2022 Best Online Associate of Arts Programs [Degree Guide]

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With an Associate of Arts program, you can gain entry-level knowledge in fascinating fields and earn a college degree.

Online Associate of Arts Programs

Having an associate degree can lead to future opportunities in higher education. An associate in arts degree could also help you get started in the workforce and serve as the foundation for a lifetime of professional growth and development.

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You may want to take a look at various Associates of Arts programs to determine which one is the best fit for your goals and plans.

Associate of Arts Degrees

Often thought of as a two year degree, an Associate of Arts includes general education courses and allows you to choose a major, too. An associate degree can provide preparation for entry-level jobs in a variety of sectors, and it can also make a solid foundation for additional college studies.

Select the program that most interests you to jump to that section of the guide:

Both of these fields offer plenty of opportunity for growth, a lot of different job prospects, and plenty of job security.


Associate of Arts business

The skills that you can develop in a business program can be useful in many different organizations. In shops and offices, the expertise of trained business professionals is essential.

The business field encompasses many different disciplines, including accounting, finance, human resources, marketing, and information technology. In a business associate degree program, you can receive an overview of each of those areas. That may provide you with a well-rounded foundation on which to build your career.

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Leadership is an important skill for college-educated business professionals to have, so you may also study management. You might learn about team dynamics, organizational structure, conflict resolution, and decision-making strategies. Business associate degrees may lead to management jobs in retail or hospitality settings.

Graduates might also work as assistants to senior specialists in marketing, advertising, accounting, or human resources. Some graduates become administrative assistants, sales representatives, bank tellers, or customer service representatives.

Criminal Justice

Associate of Arts criminal justice

If you want to help make the world a safer place, you might be interested in studying criminal justice. At the associate level, this degree could help prepare you to support victims, rehabilitate criminal offenders, or provide safety and security for the general public.

Students in this program learn about the various branches of the criminal justice system. For example, you’ll likely learn how police agencies in the US are structured, how the court system works, and what the various components of the correctional system are.

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Other courses will teach you about professional conduct. You can learn to communicate clearly and work with diverse groups of people. Criminal justice associate degrees could lead to jobs in law enforcement or corrections. A degree isn’t required by all police departments, but some agencies may prefer to hire candidates with college experience.

Other professionals with associate degrees might also find work as corrections officers, bailiffs, security guards, or private investigators.

Early Childhood Development

Early Childhood Development major

Children are always growing and learning. You could play an influential role in their development if you choose to become an early childhood professional.

As an early childhood development major, you’ll study the stages that kids go through as they grow up. You can also learn how to provide safe, healthy environments that encourage them to learn and explore. Taking classes in psychology and educational theory can help equip you with strategies for relating to kids and teaching them new things.

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Not all kids learn and grow at the same pace, so taking classes about special needs can help prepare you for working with children who require extra guidance or support. This degree can be a strategic choice for aspiring preschool teachers. Depending on your facility, you might qualify to be a lead teacher or an assistant. Other jobs in this sector include childcare provider, elementary teacher’s aide, and recreation specialist.

General Studies

Associate of Arts general studies

If you’re not sure what major would be the best fit for you, then a general studies degree might fit the bill. This program will include a variety of classes from across many different disciplines.

The curriculum for a general studies program is usually diverse. The classes may cover writing, math, social science, natural science, arts, and communications. With this major, you can take care of your general education requirements while thinking about what you’d like to do in the long run. Later, you may be able to transfer into a bachelor’s degree program.

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With your general education core already fulfilled, your remaining college studies can focus mainly on your field of choice. Of course, getting a general studies associate degree doesn’t have to lead to additional college classes. On its own, this degree might equip graduates to work in customer service, administrative assisting, or retail management.

Information Technology (IT)

Associate of Arts information technology

Everybody these days depends on technology. With a degree in IT, you might be ready to help individuals or organizations with their computing needs.

This type of degree program will likely cover both hardware and software so you can find your way around various computer systems. After you’ve covered the basics, you can also learn about networking, programming, and cybersecurity.

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Since information technology is considered a STEM field, you may be required to take statistics and an advanced math course. Computer professionals often have to collaborate with others in an organization. To get you ready for work in team settings, you might enroll in classes on communication or project management.

An associate degree could be beneficial training for a job as a computer support specialist. These specialists often assist individuals as a help-desk representative or work as a network support specialist who troubleshoots computer issues in an organization.

Liberal Arts

Associate of Arts liberal arts

A liberal arts major is similar to a general studies degree. A liberal arts program includes a survey of many areas of study in order to give students a well-rounded foundation and prepare them for work or further academics in a range of fields.

In a liberal arts program, you’ll take one or more written composition classes as well as an introductory math course. Other fields you’ll study can include history, foreign language, public speaking, or natural science. Liberal arts students often choose multiple electives. That could allow you to tailor your studies toward your strengths and interests.

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Liberal arts majors can develop reasoning and communication skills that can help them succeed in various industries. Potential jobs in this field include administrative assistant or sales representative. This flexible degree might also transfer into a variety of bachelors programs.

Medical Assisting

Associate of Arts medical assisting

Medical assistants’ contributions to healthcare facilities are invaluable. Without the help of medical assistants, doctors and nurses would have countless additional tasks to juggle. These professionals make it possible for patients to receive the care that they need.

To prepare for the role, medical assisting majors learn about medical terminology and human anatomy. Other courses address insurance reimbursement, procedure codes, and billing practices. Medical assistants often do hands-on tasks in healthcare facilities, so there are lab components to this program as well. You can learn how to do various procedures and then demonstrate your skills in a supervised setting.

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In addition, you may be required to earn clinical hours in a local healthcare facility. Medical assistants often do both administrative and clinical jobs. Potential employment settings include doctor’s offices, hospitals, and outpatient surgical centers. Their responsibilities could include collecting patient information, assessing vital signs, preparing equipment, drawing blood, and scheduling upcoming appointments.

Careers & Salaries

Associate of Arts Careers & Salaries

An associate degree of arts often prepares students for entry-level jobs in a variety of industries. Training in a specific field may lead to specialized jobs. For instance, criminal justice majors may pursue positions as police officers or correctional officers. Medical assisting majors may go on to work as assistants in doctor’s offices.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for associate-degree holders is $48,780.

Careers Annual Median Salaries
Police and Detectives $67,290
Computer Support Specialists $55,510
Advertising Sales Agents $54,940
Correctional Officers and Bailiffs $47,440
Supervisors of Retail Sales Workers $41,580
Secretaries and Administrative Assistants $40,990
Medical Assistants $35,850
Customer Service Representatives $35,830
Preschool Teachers $31,930
Teacher Assistants $28,900

Sales is a popular field for associate-degree holders, especially those who have taken business courses. Graduates may pursue positions as sales associates or retail managers. Helping others is another line of work to consider. Options could include working in customer service, providing support to computer users, or being an administrative assistant.

Some people enjoy working with kids. Professionals with an associates may teach preschool classes or help in elementary classrooms. Education requirements can vary greatly from one employer to the next, and pay rates often depend on education and experience.

Associate of Arts (A.A.) Admissions Requirements

Associate of Arts Admissions

Many colleges offer generous admissions policies for associate degree students. To start your college career, you may need to submit only a few application materials, such as the ones listed below:

  • Application form with basic personal information
  • Official high school transcripts
  • ACT or SAT scores (not required at all schools)

There may be an application fee that has to be turned in as well. Also, you might be asked to take placement tests to ensure that you are put into the correct classes.


Associate of Arts Accreditation

For an associate degree that’s credible, it’s strategic to choose a regionally accredited school. Regional accreditation ensures that a college meets educational standards. If you eventually want to continue your college studies, the accreditation status of your first school can be important. Many colleges only accept transfer credits or degrees from regionally accredited colleges.

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Even if you never go back to school, regional accreditation may still affect your future. Employers are more likely to trust the training from an accredited college than an unaccredited one. Accredited schooling may also be a prerequisite for certification programs.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

Associate of Arts financial aid

One advantage of an associate degree is that it typically costs less than getting a bachelor’s degree. Applying for financial aid may make the process even more affordable.

To start, you can fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The information you provide will determine what sort of loans, grants, or other federal assistance you can receive. You might also get similar help from your state.

Scholarships can reduce your tuition costs, too, if you qualify. You might pursue scholarships from your college, a community club, or a national organization. In addition, employers sometimes help pay for college, so you may want to check with your HR department about that possibility.

What’s an Associates Degree of Arts?

Associates Degree of Arts

An associates degree of arts is typically a 60 hour college program through which you could jumpstart your career or work toward a higher degree. An Associate of Arts, also known as an AA degree, includes coursework in many general education subject areas. Generally, AA requirements include math, writing, science, and the humanities.

In addition, some AA programs allow students to select a major, such as business or medical assisting. Programs with a major include several classes focused on that subject area. An associate degree can often replace the first 2 years of a bachelor’s degree program.

How Many Credits Is an Associate Degree?

An associates in arts degree is typically 60 credits. Many of the credits are earned in general education classes, like algebra, composition, biology, and American history. Other credits come from courses in a particular field of study, such as business or criminal justice. Altogether, AA students take about 20 classes.

Associate in Arts Degree

In general, 60 credits is half as many as are needed for a bachelor’s degree. That means that a completed associates degree may count toward the first 2 years of a bachelor’s program. By transferring with an associate degree, you might be able to enter a 4 year program as a junior.

What Is an Associate of Arts Degree Good For?

An associate degree may help you enter the workforce. Places like doctor’s offices, schools, childcare facilities, police departments, business offices, and stores may have job openings for professionals with this type of college degree.

For example, some graduates become sales representatives, recreation planners, or security guards. An Associate of Arts isn’t just for getting a job, though. The credits you earn may also transfer toward a bachelor’s degree at a four year school.

What Can I Do with an Associate of Arts Degree?

Associate of Arts Degree

An Associate of Arts may help you qualify for an entry-level job in a field like business, education, information technology, criminal justice, healthcare, or sales.

For example, some people with associate degrees work as sales representatives or store managers. Others answer calls and perform clerical tasks as administrative assistants or customer service representatives. Some associate-level jobs involve working closely with other people. For example, childcare providers spend time with kids, and correctional officers help remediate criminal offenders.

How Long Does It Take to Get an Associates Degree of Arts?

Full-time students usually complete an associate degree in 2 years or less. In an on-campus program, the two-year timeframe is pretty standard. Some associate’s degree online programs stick to a similar calendar.

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Other online programs, though, offer faster schooling options. Students who are willing to take 8 week classes throughout the year—including over the summer—may graduate in less time. On the other hand, part-time enrollment can make an associate degree program last longer.

What Jobs Can I Get with an Associate of Arts Degree?

Associate of Arts Degree jobs

There are many different jobs available for people who have associate degrees. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, an associate degree is often a sufficient education for jobs like sales agent, computer help-desk technician, teacher assistant, and security guard.

Your field of study may influence your qualifications and the work you can do. For instance, people with healthcare-related associate degrees are more likely to be hired as medical assistants, while people with business degrees are more likely to qualify to work as marketing assistants.

What’s the Difference Between an AA vs. AS Degree?

Some two-year students go to school for an Associate of Arts (AA), while others choose to pursue an Associate of Science (AS).

Associate of Arts Associate of Science
  • Includes more liberal arts or humanities classes
  • Includes majors such as business or early childhood education
  • May lead to further studies in humanities, education, or business
  • Includes more math and science classes
  • Includes majors such as biology or engineering
  • May lead to further studies in mathematics or natural science

Both AA and AS programs include an assortment of general education classes that may transfer into a bachelors degree program.

Is an Associate of Arts Degree Worth Anything?

Associate of Arts Degree

Yes, an associate of arts degree is worth it for many professionals. Based on figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for people with an associate degree is 7.1%. That’s lower than the 9% unemployment rate among people who haven’t taken any college classes.

An associate degree could help you get your foot in the door of your chosen field. After that, you can gain experience and additional training to continue advancing your career.

Getting Your Associate of Arts Degree Online

Associate of Arts Degree Online

A college degree may be within your grasp! In 2 years or less, you could earn an Associate of Arts degree with full-time study.

An AA could be an impressive addition to your resume, or it might transfer toward future college studies. Of course, if you have a busy schedule, fitting in college classes might seem like a challenge. Fortunately, credible online programs from accredited universities offer flexible scheduling to help you make it work.

Accredited online programs offer quality instruction that leads to respected degrees. If you’re ready to start your educational journey, you can begin exploring your online AA options today.

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Jordan Meeks
Jordan Meeks
Jordan is pursuing a Ph.D. in Public Policy and earned her Master of Business Administration in Strategic Management and her Bachelor's in Business Administration. Jordan's research focuses on adults returning to college and online degree programs.