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Community College: What Your Degree Means

AA? AS? AAS? What does it all mean and how do you know which degree you want and for the career path you have chosen? This is important information to research before you start your education but can be easily broken down.

Which degree?

Picking your degree to earn at a community college depends on what you are planning for your future. Are you interested in earning a two-year degree and transferring to a state college to finish your degree? Do you want to earn a degree and move right into the workforce? These couple of questions will help you start to understand what the difference in the degree you earn can mean.

Associate of Arts (AA)

AA is an Associate of Arts degree. This transferable degree is the one most commonly earned at both Marshalltown Community College and Ellsworth Community College. It is for students who want to start at a community college and transfer their credits to complete a bachelor’s degree or other advanced degrees elsewhere. The AA degree includes freshman and sophomore general education courses leading to upper-division (junior) status at most four-year colleges and universities. There are a variety of “Transfer Degrees” (e.g., Business, Communication, Criminal Justice, etc.) that can be customized for particular academic interests by selecting electives specific to that field of study.

The AA degree can be taken either on the MCC or ECC campus but is also available completely online.

Associate of Science (AS)

An AS degree is an Associate of Science degree. The AS degree is also a two-year transferable degree you can achieve at ECC and MCC. Most AS degrees are transfer degrees and provide an academic foundation, but not specific career training. To make the transfer process easier, many community colleges have transfer agreements with 4-year institutions in their states. These agreements often ensure that the credits you earn while completing your AS degree meet the general education requirements of the school to which you intend to transfer. The three regent universities in Iowa currently have agreements with MCC and ECC to help easily transfer your credits to Iowa State University, University of Iowa and the University of Northern Iowa.

MCC & ECC currently offer four AS transfer degrees including Biology Associate of Science Degree, Chemistry Associate of Science Degree, Mathematics Associate of Science Degree and Physics Associate of Science Degree.

Associate of Applied Science (AAS)

The AAS degree, Associate of Applied Science Degree, is very different from the two transferrable degrees. This career-technical degree is for students interested in specialized areas of study. This degree will take you from the classroom right into the workforce. These are very specialized training that community colleges offer. These programs range from healthcare, technical careers, business and industry and many other career fields.

Are you ready to start your education? One of these programs is a perfect start for you at a community college. You can enter the workforce with your Associate of Applied Science Degree or you can start at a community college and transfer to finish your degree with both the Associate of Arts or Associate of Science Degree. Register for your degree today at MCC or ECC.

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