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Use Your Associate Degree to Find a Four-Year Major

Are you transferring to a four-year school and can't decide on a major? You have an associate degree for a reason! Use it to navigate four-year programs.

If you made the smart decision to attend community college before transferring to a four-year school—whether to save money or to figure out your life path—you’re going to have to declare a major twice. It’s likely you’re pursuing a more generalized degree at your community college than a specific one—e.g., an AA in Liberal Arts or AS in General Sciences. The lucky thing is community colleges are made for exploring your options and laying the groundwork for a higher degree.  Once you have that degree in hand, ready to transfer to a four-year school, what do you do with it? You didn’t get that degree just for fun! When you transfer to a four-year college or university with a whole host of major options available to you, it can be hard to choose. Here’s how you can use your two-year degree to guide you to the right four-year major—and the right career path.

Types of colleges to consider

Before you can declare a major and work toward a bachelor’s degree, you have to find the right college that offers majors you’re interested in. There are a lot of colleges out there, and making the decision can be overwhelming, but there’s one major factor in transferring that can help you rule out a lot of colleges: transferring credits. You want to ensure the program you pick at whatever school you attend will allow you to transfer the most credits possible. And in transferring credits, there’s another major factor that makes some colleges stand out above the rest: articulation agreements.

What is an articulation agreement?

Articulation agreements are programs set up between colleges to ensure the transition from a community college to a four-year school is easier for transfer students. If your community college has articulation agreements with particular four-year schools, it means you’re guaranteed admission to that school, most (if not all) of your credits will transfer, and you’ll have more opportunities for transfer scholarships. Finding out which colleges your school has articulation agreements with is your best bet—but it’s by no means your only option. Just be aware that with other schools, you’re risking potential rejection, credit loss, and fewer scholarship opportunities. 

Related: Lists: Schools With Articulation Agreements

Your major options

Whether you’re applying to a school with an articulation agreement or not, you need to make sure your future college has a variety of major options to give yourself plenty of options to choose from and ensure less credit loss—because more majors means more courses, which means more equivalent credit transfer. You only have two years left of college now that you have your associate degree, so you need to plan your courses out ahead of time to meet all the requirements you’ll have left in your major and make sure you graduate on time. Finding a school with a good amount of academic options means you can be flexible and choose a major within your overall realm of interest that will best adhere to the courses you’ve already taken. 

Common associate degrees and possible majors

Let’s take a look at common associate degrees and possible majors to consider at your new school. With most of these, choosing a major is really going to be about narrowing down your field of study to something more specific. Just remember that each school you’re looking at will have slightly different academic paths for similar majors. 

Related: 4 Interesting Ways to Help You Find Your College Major 

Majors for a Business degree

A Business degree is great in that nearly every career requires a business element, so you can find a job after college just about anywhere. Here are some of the top majors to consider with an associate degree in Business:

  • Accounting: If you found yourself enjoying any math classes you had to take for general requirements, a career crunching numbers could be your thing. 
  • Business Administration & Management: If you’re the independent leader type, Business Administration is where you’ll thrive.
  • Marketing: This major allows you to take something you’re passionate about and inspire others to be passionate about it as well.
  • Finance: Maybe doing other people’s taxes isn’t right for you, but crunching numbers to keep others out of debt might be.
  • Human Resources: Every business needs someone to keep it in line for the sake of the workers. If you have a strong social side, this could be your calling.
  • International Business: If you’re interested in the kind of business that allows you to see the world and learn from other cultures, this is the field for you.

Majors for a Mathematics degree

The beauty of a Math degree is every career needs a numbers person. In fact, there’s a lot of crossover in majors when it comes to business and mathematics careers, so if you got a Mathematics degree but always found yourself interested in business, one of these majors could be a great option to get the best of both worlds:

  • Accounting: Again, some people just like to crunch those numbers, and as an Accounting major, you’ll be doing nothing but. 
  • Applied Mathematics: This major is a little more niche than a regular Mathematics major, allowing you to see real-world application and impact with math. 
  • Banking and Financial Services: You may thrive even more in this major than you would if you were a Business major interested in finance. 
  • Economics: The economy is always changing, but you could find a career that allows you to be a positive agent of change within it with an Economics degree. 
  • Mathematics: Hey, if you like math, you like math. And sometimes a major decision is as easy as sticking with the one you already have.
  • Statistics: If you like all the possibilities that come with analyzing numbers, then you should consider all the great careers Statistics could lead to.

Majors for a General Sciences degree

There’s a whole world of sciences out there just waiting to be explored! While you really can’t go wrong with a career in any one of them, the areas of science are very different. Make sure you find one that lines up best with your goals and interests. 

  • Biology: This degree opens up a world of career options with environmentalism and conservationism as well as biological testing in labs.
  • Chemistry: Who isn’t fascinated by the way elements combine and react? If you like a good blend of theory and practice, Chemistry is the way. 
  • Engineering: Engineering is one of the most hands-on, lucrative careers out there. You really can’t go wrong with any Engineering subfield
  • Forensic Science: For people who like getting down to the nitty-gritty details of analysis, Forensic Science offers an experience like no other. 
  • Neuroscience: If you’ve always been interested in how the brain works, delving into a Neuroscience major may be most fulfilling for you. 
  • Physics: With a fascination for how things work and a desire to turn ideas into reality, you can go far with a Physics major.

Majors for a Hospitality/Culinary Arts degree

Possibly the most niche of the most common community college degrees, hospitality and culinary arts can be an exciting and lucrative industry to break into. While you may have fewer major options, making your final decision will likely be easier.

  • Baking/Pastry Arts: What better way to put that Culinary Arts associate degree to good use than choosing a field where you get to bake all day. Yum!
  • Culinary Arts: If you’re more of a jack-of-all-trades culinary artist, stick to that broad Culinary Arts major.
  • Culinary Management: Have you ever wanted to be Gordon Ramsey? Culinary Management will give you the cooking and business skills to run a kitchen. 
  • Hotel Management: The hotel industry can be a strong career choice financially, especially if you’re running the place. 
  • Restaurant Management: Your own menu, your own theme, your own restaurant. Get a Management degree and bring delicious food and good times to people after graduation.

Majors for a Liberal Studies/General Studies degree

Liberal Studies (i.e., Liberal Arts) and General Studies degrees are the catchall majors at community colleges when a student really has no idea what they want to study. The good news is you really can go anywhere from here (including many of the majors listed above). The difficult thing is…you can really go anywhere from here, so you have more options to choose from and a more difficult decision to make. 

  • Communications: Communications is a flexible major that allows you to follow many different career paths, including marketing, advertising, social work, and more.
  • English: English is a good, classic major, and don’t let anyone tell you it’s not worth anything. English degrees can lead to more than just a teaching career.
  • History: You may prefer to live in the past rather than the present, and with a History degree, you could uncover the next great historical revelation of our time. 
  • Psychology: Has the human mind and why we are the way we are always fascinated you? It’s time to enroll for that Psychology degree. 
  • Social Work: If you loved group work, interacting with your peers, and helping others in school, it could mean you’re made for Social Work. 

Related: 5 Reasons Why You Need a Liberal Arts Education

Picking a college major can be stressful (let alone doing it the second time). But your time at community college should give you insight into your interests and goals to know where you want to take your life and career after college. Use your experience and that hard-earned degree to find the right four-year major, then finish off your last two years of college with confidence and passion toward a bright future.

Haven’t decided where to transfer to yet? Start looking for schools with the right majors using our College Search tool, and find more advice on transferring in our Transfer Students section. 

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