What Is an AA Degree?

An Associate of Arts (AA) degree can be awarded at a 2-year school, like a community college, junior college or business college. In some cases, 4-year universities also offer AA degree programs as well. The following article describes what a student might do with an AA degree and how to go about obtaining one.

What is an AA Degree?

An AA, or Associate of Arts degree, is a way for students to continue their education beyond high school in a relatively short amount of time. AA degrees typically take two years (four full-time semesters) to complete, and degree programs concentrate on general arts and science requirements, basic major requirements and a handful of elective courses. These programs can be found at both 2-year and 4-year schools.

How Do I Earn It?

It's easier than ever to receive an AA degree. No matter your need, Associate of Arts degree options are vast and available at almost any type of college in the country -- online and in person. For those with tight schedules, online AA degree options may be ideal. The most basic prerequisite is a high school diploma or GED, and the rest depends on specific college admission requirements.

Students seeking an AA degree are usually required to take general education courses, like composition and mathematics, in addition to courses in their area of focus. For example, an associate's degree in graphic design and photography at Santa Barbara City College (SBCC) requires 60 units, including 18 general education units and 30 department-specific units, according to the college's website.

What Can I Do With My Degree?

There are many reasons students choose to get an AA degree. One such reason for an AA degree may be to transfer credits to a 4-year college. Transferring AA degree credits generally allows students to complete a bachelor's degree by jumping right into upper-level courses. The AA degree replaces the first two years of the 4-year degree.

Another reason may be to enter the workforce directly upon graduating with an AA. For example, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicates the minimum education required for a job as a paralegal or legal assistant is an associate's degree. Associate's degrees may also help the student simply enhance skills in a field where he or she is already working. Individuals working in an entry-level position in a field that didn't require a degree may have an advantage over coworkers for a raise or promotion after completing an AA degree program.

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