Considering an associate of arts degree is a vital decision in your academic journey, as this degree sets a solid foundation in various subjects. From humanities to social sciences, to criminal justice and mathematics, an associate of arts is a versatile degree that offers a well-rounded education, and opens doors to numerous career opportunities. Whether you’re looking to transfer to a four-year college, explore different fields of study, or enhance your skill set for the job market, an associate of arts degree can be a valuable asset. 

In this article, we’ll explore the reasons why an associate of arts degree is worth considering for academic success, and how it can help you kickstart your career.  Let’s start the basics.  

Simply put, an Associate of Arts (AA) degree is a two-year undergraduate program that is offered by community colleges, junior colleges, and some universities. It offers foundational knowledge in liberal arts and humanities subjects such as English, history, mathematics, and social sciences. Often pursued by students who plan to transfer to a four-year college or university to complete a bachelor’s degree, an AA degree can also serve as a standalone qualification. This degree equips students with critical thinking, communication, and problem-solving skills valuable in various careers.

In the next section, we’ll take a quick look at the reasons why you could consider an associate of arts degree.

Why Should You Consider an Associate of Arts Degree

Here are some reasons why an associates degree in arts could be a great first step in your higher educational journey.

  1. Transferability: An associate of arts degree is often designed for easy transfer to a four-year college or university. Many institutions have transfer agreements that guarantee acceptance of AA credits, allowing you to continue your education and earn a bachelor’s degree.
  2. Easy on the pocket: Commonly offered by community colleges, an AA degree tends to have lower tuition rates than four-year institutions. This makes pursuing an AA degree a more affordable option for many, especially when considering the cost savings of completing general education requirements.
  3. Time Efficiency: Completing an associate of arts degree typically takes two years of full-time study, compared to four years for a bachelor’s degree. This could work in your favor, if you wish to enter the workforce sooner or prefer a shorter academic commitment.
  4. Exploring Interests: The curriculum of an associate’s degree in arts may include a variety of general education courses that lets you explore various subjects and disciplines before committing to a specific major. This exploration could help you discover your [passion and interests.
  5. Developing new skills: When you pursue an AA degree, you get a chance to develop valuable skills like critical thinking, communication, and problem-solving. These skills not only benefit you in your academic journey, but can also come in handy in various professional and personal contexts.
  6. Personal Fulfillment: Earning an associates of arts degree can be your source of personal satisfaction and pride. This degree could represent a significant accomplishment and can boost confidence and self-esteem.

Let’s move on to explore who would be a good fit to pursue an associate’s degree in arts.  

Associates of arts is a popular choice among students across the globe. In this section, we’ll understand who should actually pursue an associate degree in arts.

  1. Students Planning to Transfer: One of the main reasons to pursue an associate of arts degree could be to transfer to a four-year college or university. If you have plans to continue your education and earn a bachelor’s degree, an AA degree may be a great starting point. This program lets you complete your general education requirements and often includes transferable credits that can be applied toward a bachelor’s degree.
  2. Adult Learners: Many adult learners consider earning an associate of arts degree to enhance their skills and knowledge or to qualify for new career opportunities. The flexible schedule options offered by many community colleges make it easier for adult learners to balance their studies with work and family responsibilities.
  3. High School Graduates: As a recent high school graduate, you may not be ready to commit to a four-year college or university. In such cases, an associates degree in arts can be a valuable alternative, as it allows you to continue your education while exploring different subjects, and earning a credential that can improve your job prospects.

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  4. Career Changers: If you’re someone who’s considering a career change, but are not sure about committing to a four-year degree program, an AA degree could be a viable option. This degree offers a solid educational foundation and can qualify you for entry-level positions in various fields. It also allows you to explore various subjects and disciplines before deciding on a specific career path.
  1. Those Seeking Personal Development: Even if you’re not planning to transfer to a four-year institution or pursue a specific career, an associate of arts degree could still be valuable to you. This degree could help you develop skills like critical thinking and communication, and broaden your understanding of the world, leading to personal growth and enrichment.

While the admission requirements for an associate of arts degree varies as per the college or university you apply to, let’s look at some typical requirements to enroll for this program. To enroll in an AA program, you would need a high school diploma or equivalent, such as a GED. Some colleges may also require you to submit standardized test scores, such as the SAT or ACT, though this requirement is less common for AA programs than for bachelor’s degree programs.

In addition to academic requirements, institutes request to students to complete an application form and pay an application fee. Some colleges may also require you to submit letters of recommendation or a personal statement. However, many community colleges have open admissions policies, which means they accept students who have a high school diploma or equivalent, regardless of their academic background.

Let’s take a quick look at the subjects that you could study if you pursue an associate’s degree in arts.

  1. English: Courses in English literature, composition, and creative writing are common in associate of arts programs. These courses offer a foundation in language and literature essential for effective communication and critical thinking.
  2. History: History courses are also typical in this degree as they focus on different periods, regions, and themes. This helps students develop an understanding of past events and their impact on society, fostering analytical skills and historical perspective.
  3. Mathematics: Mathematics courses in areas such as algebra, calculus, and statistics are often required, as they develop quantitative reasoning and problem-solving skills that may come in handy in various fields.
  4. Social Sciences: Courses in disciplines such as psychology, sociology, anthropology, and political science could offer insights into human behavior, societies, and political systems. This helps in fostering a deeper understanding of the world.
  5. Natural Sciences: If you have courses in biology, chemistry, physics, and environmental science, it introduces you to scientific principles and methods of inquiry. This can promote scientific literacy and critical thinking.
  6. Humanities: Courses in philosophy, religion, art history, and cultural studies help you explore the human experience, values, and beliefs, and encourage reflection on the nature of existence and society.
  7. Fine Arts: Studying visual arts, music, theater, and dance can offer opportunities for creative expression and appreciation of the arts. This may enrich your cultural understanding and aesthetic sensibility.
  8. Foreign Languages: Certain courses in languages such as Spanish, French, German, and Chinese help develop proficiency in a second language. It also offers an understanding of different cultures, enhancing global communication and intercultural competence.
  9. Economics: If you take a course in microeconomics and macroeconomics, you would get an understanding of economic principles and their impact on individuals and societies, thereby enhancing financial literacy and decision-making skills.

Now that we have a fair understanding of the associates of arts degree, let’s look at some career options that you could explore once you complete your degree.

Career options with an AA degree

In this section, we’ll look at some career options that you can pursue once you earn your associate of arts degree.

  • Paralegal: With an associate of arts degree in paralegal studies, you can work as a paralegal. You would be assisting lawyers with legal research, drafting documents, and preparing for trials. Paralegals work in law firms, corporate legal departments, and government agencies. As per recent data, a paralegal can potentially earn up to $68,361 per year.
  • Social Services Assistant: Once you complete your associate of arts degree in social work or human services, you could qualify for a role as a social services assistant. In this role, you would be working with social workers to help clients access services such as healthcare, housing, and counseling. As a social service assistant, you could potentially earn about $67,138 every year.
  • Administrative Assistant: Many organizations are in dire need of administrative assistants who have an associate of arts degree. In this role, you would perform clerical and administrative tasks such as answering phones, scheduling appointments, and managing files. On average, you could earn anywhere between $41,183 and $52,024 on an annual basis.
  • Healthcare Support Worker: An AA degree in healthcare or a related field can qualify you for a role as a healthcare support worker. As a professional in this field, you would be assisting healthcare providers with patient care, administrative tasks, and medical procedures in settings such as hospitals, clinics, and long-term care facilities. On average, a healthcare support worker can potentially earn about $32,045 per year.
  • Education Assistant: If you happen to earn an AA degree in education, you could earn an entry-level job in the field of education as an education assistant. You would be required to support teachers in classroom management, lesson planning, and student supervision. Education assistants work in schools and educational settings and can earn up to $73,151 every year.
  • Sales Representative: Potential employers tend to prefer sales representatives with an AA degree as compared to just high school graduates. In this role, you would sell products or services to customers, build relationships with clients, and meet sales targets. Salaries for sales representatives vary as per education and the industry they work for.
  • Customer Service Representative: With an associate degree in arts, you can work as a customer service representative, where you would be assisting customers with inquiries, processing orders, and resolving issues. Customer service representatives work in various industries, including retail, finance, and healthcare. Just like sales representatives, a customer service representative’s salary may differ depending on the industry and organization they service.

An associate of arts degree offers multiple benefits that makes it a valuable option for many students. From offering a solid educational foundation in a variety of subjects like humanities, social sciences, mathematics, etc. to opening doors to multiple career options, an AA degree has a lot to offer from an academic and professional standpoint.  

More often than not, associate degrees in arts are more affordable and flexible than four-year degree programs, making higher education more accessible to a wider range of students. By earning an AA degree, you could explore further academic opportunities, career advancement, and personal growth, setting yourself on a path to success in today’s competitive world.

Is an Associate of Arts Degree worth it?

Yes, an associate of arts degree can be worth it as it offers an educational foundation, helps develop essential skills such as critical thinking and communication, and can lead to various career opportunities. If you’re planning to transfer to a four-year college or university, an AA degree can save money on tuition by completing general education requirements at a lower cost. Additionally, an AA degree can qualify you for entry-level positions in fields such as business, education, and healthcare, providing a pathway to employment while continuing your education or exploring different career paths.

What factors should I consider when looking for an Associate of Arts degree?

When looking for an associate of arts degree program, you could consider factors like the reputation of the college or university offering the program, accreditation status, transferability of credits to four-year institutions, cost and financial aid options, flexibility of class schedules (especially if you’re working or have other commitments), and the availability of support services such as academic advising and career counseling. Additionally, check the curriculum and course offerings to ensure they align with your academic and career goals.