An associate degree award normally requires at least two, but less than four years of full-time equivalent college work.
Students typically complete 60 credit hours of study.
Associate degrees are awarded as:
- Associate of Arts (AA)
- Associate of Science (AS)
- Associate of Applied Science (AAS)
Which Associate degree should you get?
If you want to transfer to a university to earn a Bachelor’s degree . . . . . you should pursue an Associate of Arts (AA) or an Associate of Science (AS) degree. These degrees are designed to transfer. This means the credits and classes you take (if following a Tennessee Transfer Pathway) will transfer seamlessly to a bachelor’s degree program at Tennessee public universities and many private colleges. Through these degree programs, you get the core course requirements (Communication, Math, Sciences, Humanities, etc.) that every college student must complete. When you transfer to a four-year university, you will have two years remaining to complete the courses required in your field of study.
What’s the difference between an AA or AS degree?
If you are considering a four-year degree program that falls under the Liberal Arts, Humanities or Social Sciences areas (Psychology, History, English, Political Science, Social Work, etc.) you should consider an AA degree program path. The AA degree is the most transferrable program offered.
If you are considering a four-year Business or STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering or Math) degree program, you should choose an AS degree path.
If you want to join the workforce immediately upon graduation . . . . . an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree is the program for you. These programs are technical/vocational in nature and prepare students for entry-level career positions within a specific field. Some programs also provide the educational background necessary to be eligible for credentialing exams in some career fields.
For students who initially earn an AAS degree and decide to pursue a bachelor’s degree later in their career, it’s important to note that some AAS courses are not granted transfer equivalency credit, nor will they fulfill the general education requirements of a bachelor’s degree program.