The Associate of Arts (A.A.) and Associate of Science (A.S.) degrees are designed for students who want to transfer to a four-year degree program.

  1. They contain a significant amount of general education coursework; and once the degree is awarded, students are not required to take additional general education classes at the 100- or 200-level when they transfer to another campus.
  2. The completion of transfer degree satisfies both math and writing proficiency requirements need for admission to 4-year undergraduate programs.
  3. These degrees typically do not include a designated or specialized field of study. In other words, students completing the degree would not receive an Associate of Science degree in Business or Computer Technology, but just an Associate of Science degree.
  4. The degree includes enough free or elective credits, however, to permit students to concentrate their coursework in a particular discipline or field. Hopefully, those courses will satisfy some of the freshman and sophomore-level requirements in a four-year, bachelor's degree.
  5. A small number of Associate of Arts and Associate of Science degrees in the Montana University System DO include a designated field of study (the most common example is the Associate of Science degree in Nursing). Students need to be aware that those specialized two-year programs do not include a significant number of general education credits and the degree will probably not satisfy the general education requirements set out in Policy 301.10, subsection II. D.

Workforce Credentials

Preparation for a Job, Not For Transfer

The Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) is ordinarily considered a terminal degree, and is intended to prepare students for immediate employment, usually in a technical or occupational field. Although all credits must be accepted in transfer as electives, the degree is not designed for students who want to transfer, and students should not expect to apply their A.A.S. coursework to meet the requirements of a bachelor’s degree, with one exception. 

  1. The A.A.S. degree title includes a designated field of study, such as Surgical Technology or Plumbing.
  2. Approximately two-thirds of the classes are devoted to a technical or occupational field, and instead of general education courses, A.A.S. programs of study require “related instruction” in “computation, communication, and human relations.”
  3. Students who decide to work on a four-year degree after completing a two-year A.A.S. degree will have their coursework analyzed, on a class-by-class basis, to see how it fits into the bachelor's degree program of study. Some classes may satisfy the specific requirements of a major, minor, option or certificate, and some may fulfill part of the general education program.
  4. The one exception: Some four-year campuses in the Montana University System offer a four-year, Bachelor of Applied Science degree that applies most, or all, of the Associate of Applied Science credits as the first two years of coursework for this “upside down” bachelor's degree; these programs build general education course requirements into the third and fourth year of study.  Find campuses that offer this degree.