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Associate in Arts Degree (AA): Liberal Arts Degree Overview

An Associate in Arts (AA) degree program in liberal arts is designed to expose students to a wide variety of subjects and perspectives at the postsecondary level. Students have the option to concentrate in one or more areas, like fine arts or business.

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Essential Information

Rather than preparing students for a specific career, 2-year associate's programs in liberal arts focus on cultural literacy and hone communication and analytical skills. They often cover various disciplines, ranging from the humanities to social sciences. To enter one of these programs, a high school diploma or equivalent is required.


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Associate in Liberal Arts Degree

Some subjects that are emphasized in a liberal arts associate's degree program include literature, sciences, history, foreign languages, mathematics and philosophy. Some liberal arts associate's degree programs may allow or require students to select a concentration in one of several liberal arts disciplines such as fine arts, business administration or psychology. Typical coursework includes:

  • Writing
  • Computer skills
  • Life science
  • English
  • Foreign language
  • Math
  • Public Speaking
  • U.S. History

Career Options and Outlook Information

Graduates of liberal arts associate's degree programs may qualify to enter into various career fields that require a generalized college education. Employers seeking candidates with a broad knowledge, strong communication capabilities and critical-thinking skills may find the right employee in one with an associate's degree in liberal arts.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) suggests that liberal arts students prepare for their careers by taking courses in job-specific subjects (www.bls.gov). Possible career options include sales associate and writer. In May 2015, the BLS reported that retail sales associates earned a median annual salary of $21,780, and writers and authors earned a median annual salary of $60,250. While jobs for retail salespersons are projected to increase at an about-average rate from 2014 to 2024, jobs for writers are projected to increase at a slower-than-average pace during the same period, according to the BLS.

Continuing Education

An Associate of Arts degree program in liberal arts lays the foundation for students to enter a baccalaureate program. Because of the expansive subjects studied, students are typically prepared to enter into any field they wish. Those who chose a concentration while earning their associate's degree can continue their undergraduate studies by majoring in that same concentration. Master of Liberal Arts degree programs are also available and may allow students to customize their coursework.

An associate's degree program in liberal arts gives students a breadth of knowledge in a variety of liberal arts topics, such as English, math, and public speaking, and prepares them to pursue further education at the bachelor's level.

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