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AS and AAS Degree Programs

Which degree is right for you?

Choose Your Degree

A.A. vs. A.S. vs. A.A.S.: What Degree Should I Get?

A.A., A.S., A.A.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 very likely to transfer to another four-year school in Montana. 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 Accounting—you may still need some math and English classes to be an accountant, but you’ll also be taking accounting classes your first semester.

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 Writing 101 transfers (most every college in Montana offers that exact course), but Welding 170 may not (most four-year colleges do not offer welding).

What about certificates?

Certificates are shorter term, specific programs. For instance, you can get certified in Computer Network Infrastructure and apply at places that require basic networking skills with that certification much quicker than doing the full Network Support program. Now, you wouldn’t know much about advanced networking yet, but you might work cabling systems. Certificates can normally be completed in two semesters.

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?