What do AA, AS and AAS stand for and what’s the difference among them?
At Salt Lake Community College, associate’s degrees come in three different flavors. The AA (associate of arts) and AS (associate of science) degrees are the most similar.
“In the sciences, you are deemed to have a more objective coverage of how the world works. In an arts degree, we look at instead of what people are, we look at who they are, and what they produce, and the context of their lives,” said SLCC Professor Kathleen Hom.
That might seem like a world of difference, but for most students, it’s just a question of learning a foreign language. AA degrees require foreign language credits, while AS degrees require a bit more math and science.
Their greatest similarity is that they are both designed to transfer to a four-year institution, which can’t be said of an AAS (associate of applied science) degree.
“An associate of applied science degree is a two year degree meant to make you ready to go to work in two years. It’s more of a skills degree,” said Joanne Thomas, assistant director of academic and career advising at SLCC. “You are getting more skill than Gen Ed because it is meant to send you directly to work.”
For a student who ultimately decides to attend a four-year institution, the courses required for an AAS degree aren’t a waste. It’s not as efficient as going for an AS from the start, but most of the credits can be applied toward an AS degree and a student can earn the rest over a couple semesters.
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