Anyone who’s looking into a long-term, higher-paying career will investigate the types of college degrees that can achieve it. What can be confusing is the degree names and abbreviations. For example, there’s a huge difference between the “Associate of Arts (A.A.)” and the “Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.)” degree. Although the A.A. and A.A.S. degrees are each a two-year degree, the fast track to a career is the Associate of Applied Science.
The “hands-on,” ready-for-work degree is the A.A.S. This degree is for those with a laser focus on learning a skill or technology. The “learning” comes almost entirely in the “doing,” and most happens in simulated workplace environments on campus.
The right two-year degree – an A.A.S. degree – can help you earn as much or more than careers asking for a four-year bachelor’s degree. For example, take this comparison of types of college degrees:
It’s easy to miss the difference between the two-year degrees, so let’s break out “associate degrees” and show what the two types cover.
Both the Associate of Arts (A.A.) and the Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) degrees are two-year degrees, but their purposes are very different. Think of the A.A. as a starter degree that leads to knowledge within a subject and the A.A.S. as a degree for those who want to enter a specialized workforce as soon as possible.
The coursework for students in the A.A.S. degree program is hands-on and involves time in laboratory and clinical settings specific to the degree program. For example, a student who wants to become a radiologic technologist would spend time in the radiology lab and fieldwork in real-world clinical settings. This is much different than a student in an A.A. degree program attending lecture courses and taking general education classes that could later be applied to a bachelor’s degree.
A bachelor’s degree can be a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) or a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) This degree takes three to five years to complete and requires at least 120 credit hours of coursework. A bachelor’s degree is necessary to enter a graduate degree program.
A master’s degree follows a bachelor’s degree. It’s either a Master of Science (M.S.) or a Master of Arts (M.A.) and takes one to two years of additional study. Some jobs require it or indicate it’s needed for career advancement or higher pay grades. For most technical fields, this is not the case.
The Ph.D., and any “doctor” level health care degree, are the highest academic degrees. Non-health care Ph. D.s may require a research thesis. Those accepted into a professional school like chiropractic, medicine, or dentistry apply for admission after earning a bachelor’s degree.
Guide to Degrees
|Associate of Arts||A.A.||Associate of Arts (A.A.) is typically set up for completing foundational coursework necessary for a four-year (bachelor’s degree) or transferring to another college or university.||As little as|
|Associate of Applied Science||A.A.S.||Associate of Applied Science degree(A.A.S.) is a two-year degree that meets requirements for specific skill sets in the workplace. It also helps ensures eligibility for various industry certifications or registration required by those employers.||As little as|
|Bachelor of Science/Bachelor of Arts||B.A.|
|Up until the growth of 2-year degrees, the B.A. and B.S. were the common choices after high school. These indicate knowledge in a particular field but are not always job specific. Only about 30-36 hours are in an emphasis area.||4 years or 120 credit hours|
|Master of Science/Master of Arts||M.A.|
|Someone with a master’s degree has shown mastery of a field of study or academic area. Generally, this is the same field as the bachelor’s degree. A master’s thesis may be required.||As little as|
2 years, depending on the study area
D.C., M.D., D.D.S., etc.
|Those in non-healthcare fields earn a Ph.D. Those with a professional doctorate use their knowledge in a business or occupation.||As little as|
3 years, depending on the study area
So now you know more about college degree options than most people do. You’ve also seen how a two-year associate of applied science degree can deliver an excellent advantage:
What’s the right degree for you? It’s a very personal decision. Envision your best future, then choose the degree option that matches it.
Located in Overland Park, Kansas, Cleveland University-Kansas City (CUKC) is a nonprofit, private, chiropractic and health sciences university devoted to educating and developing leaders in healthcare and health promotion.
All types of college degrees are available in the College of Health Sciences, including great options for those who want a two-year degree:
The CUKC College of Chiropractic offers:
Why not learn more about our degree programs? Request your information today!