A.A. vs. A.S vs. A.A.S: What Associate Degree Should I Get?
A.A., A.S., A.A.S., A.G.S…talk about a lot of acronyms! What do they all mean? Hopefully this will help you break it down. In most cases, it’s easy peasy: if it’s got 2 letters, it’s a transfer degree. If it’s got 3 letters, it’s a technical degree. Basically, we separate it into those two tracks.
I know I want to get my Bachelor’s someday.
This is probably going to be an Associate of Arts (A.A.) or an Associate of Science (A.S.). These degrees are designed to transfer, which means the credits and classes you take are guaranteed to transfer with you to any four-year college in Colorado. These degrees help you get your core credits taken care of that every college student has to take: English, math, science, etc. This way, when you get to the four-year university, you just have 2 years left to complete in your field of study classes.
Should you choose the A.A. or A.S.?
For four-year majors that fall under the math or science realm (physics, chemistry, engineering, etc.), you will choose an A.S. For four-year majors that fall under Liberal Arts (psychology, history, English, etc.), you will choose the A.A. The A.A. is the most transferrable and general program we offer.
I want to be fully trained to have a job in 2 years.
An Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S) is a technical degree. That means you’ll be taking your subject interest classes straight out of the gate and will work toward being fully trained in your field at the end of your two-year program (if you attend school full-time). An example is an A.A.S. in automotive technology—you may still need some math and English classes to be an auto mechanic, but you’ll also be taking auto classes your first semester.
An Associate of General Studies (A.G.S.) is a degree where you can work with an academic advisor to customize your degree to match your goals. For instance, maybe you not only want to be an automotive genius but you also want own and run that auto shop—you might need some business and management classes thrown in there.
How do I know what transfers?
It’s always up to the college to which you are transferring for the final say on whether they will accept your credits. For a class to transfer, that college has to offer the exact same course in order to give you credit for it. That’s why English 121 transfers (most every college in Colorado offers that exact course), but Welding 125 does not (most four-year colleges do not offer welding). In our class schedule, if it has the letters GT next to it, it’s a Guaranteed Transfer class.
What about certificates?
Certificates are shorter term, specific programs. For instance, you can get certified in brakes (auto) and apply at places like Brakes Plus with that certification much quicker than doing the full Automotive program. Now, you wouldn’t know much about transmissions yet, but you might work a mean brake lathe. Certificates can range from 2 ½ weeks to 1 ½ years—it just depends on the certificate.
Heads up: You should always talk with an academic advisor each semester to make sure you are on track to graduate with the right degree for your goals. They can help make sure you get the classes you need and keep you pointed in the right direction.
So what path are you taking—bachelor, associate, certificate?