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Online Associate of Arts Degrees: Learning Options by Specialization

Dec 04, 2019

Learn about online Associate of Arts degree programs. Get an overview of the program types, requirements and course descriptions available for this field.

Essential Information

Many schools offer Associate of Arts degrees that can be earned entirely through online studies. Other programs combine online courses with on-campus coursework. In online classes, students can view lectures and download course materials at any time. They can communicate with instructors through e-mail and interact with classmates through message boards and chat conferences. To participate in online teleconferencing, students may need to equip their computers with a microphone.

Students must hold a high school diploma or General Educational Development (GED) certificate to enroll in an Associate of Arts Program. The program requires about 60 credit hours, which can be completed in two years of full-time study. Graduates get a basic education that prepares them to pursue a bachelor's degree or begin a career in fields such as office administration.

Students pursuing Associate of Arts degrees may choose a specialization, or major, in a liberal arts subject or earn a degree in general studies. Required general education courses make up much of the curricula and generally include English composition, college algebra and social studies. Areas of specialization may include business, history and mathematics.

Associate of Arts Degree

Associate's degree programs provide students with a general educational overview in order to offer foundational postsecondary education. Students use data analysis and research to enhance their academic aptitude, critical-thinking skills and business acumen. As opposed to Associate of Science programs, Associate of Arts programs are often attached to programs having to do with liberal arts specialties, such as fine arts, humanities or even undeclared general studies.

Program Information and Requirements

Applicants typically must hold a high school diploma or GED certificate. Many of these programs are offered completely online; however, some may include a mix of distance-education and on-campus classes. Internet-based courses are viewed using learning management systems, such as Blackboard. Students communicate with their professors and peers through discussion boards and chat rooms.

Students must have a computer that meets university hardware and software requirements, and they must also have Internet access. Additionally, distance-learners may be required to possess a microphone for online discussions and real-time conferences.

Common Courses

Through online associate-level courses, students develop skills in areas such as writing and speaking, the humanities, social science and behavioral science. Classes common to most Associate of Arts program include:

Effective Writing

This course introduces students to the skills required for researching a topic and writing proficiently on the subject. Topics include research methods and writing project organization. Particular emphasis is placed on a research paper's audience, purpose and context.

General Psychology

This class focuses on concepts including research methods, biological causes of behavior, sensation and perception. It investigates issues in abnormal behavior, social constructs and personality makeup.

American Government and Politics

Students explore the political and social issues that affect the formation of public policy in America. They learn about the roles played by political parties and interest groups in government on the local, state and national levels.


Career Information

Graduates of an associate's degree program can generally pursue entry-level office work. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2018, the average annual salary for all types of office and administrative support occupations was $35,760.

In online Associate of Arts programs, undergraduate students take general liberal arts courses that can improve their communication and problem-solving skills. This degree can provide an educational foundation for entry-level administrative jobs or further studies at the bachelor's degree level.

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