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Associates Degrees

Associates Degree

An Associates degree is typically a four year degree that is offered mostly by junior colleges, community colleges, and some bachelor degree granting colleges within the United States. In general, an Associates degree is equivalent to learning within the guidelines of the first two years of a four year college. The Associates degree is considered the lowest among the hierarchy of college degrees, but it still has a large impact on students looking to advance in their careers, particularly those who are subject to entering a very specific field. Canada and the United States most commonly offer the Associates degree, but in 2000 Japan also introduced it, and Australia also adopted it in 2004. Some common abbreviations of the Associates degree include AS (Associate of Science), AA (Associate of Arts), and AAS (Associate of Applied Science).

With an AA degree, the focus is mainly on humanities or studies within the guidelines of social sciences. It is also typically given to students who have not yet chosen a major of study, and for those whose degree is basically in general studies. The AS is usually geared more towards students who most likely plan to move onto a four year university, and focuses on subjects such as mathematics, sciences, and technology. The AAS version of the Associates is tailored more towards students who plan to enter the workforce immediately after earning their degree. This means that the AAS provides more hands on learning experiences, as well as some intern and externships to give students the real experience they will need in order to succeed in their work life.

In most cases, an Associates degree can be earned in two years. This is of course if the student is attending classes full time. In most cases, however, the time it takes to earn an Associates degree can be longer, particularly if the student is also working at the time. Around the 1970s, more and more people began earning their Associates degrees. By the beginning of the 1980s, the number had significantly increased to about 25% more than degrees earned in the 1970s. Many people view the Associates as a vocational degree, since the scope of learning is much more focused on one particular area of study versus other degrees where students must be well rounded and spend a minimum of four years in study.

Because the Associates is known as a vocational type of degree, most people who earn it enter into a specific field that they studied while earning the degree. The most common career categories for those with their Associates are the business and commerce technology fields. A close second are those entering into the health services and paramedical fields. Other commonly chosen fields for those with an Associates degree include paralegal, mechanical, data processing, public service, computer related fields, and natural sciences. If you decide to get your Associates and think you might want to transfer later to a four year college, talk to you advisor about which classes will transfer over so you will not have to retake them. The Associates degree is an important part of the higher learning landscape.

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