Getting associate's after a BA?
March 19, 2014 8:01 AM   Subscribe

Does it make sense to get an associate's degree after already finishing my bachelor's?

So, I'm wanting to make a career transition into working as an LCDC from working in education. I need to get the class hours, but I'm wondering if it makes sense to get an associates after receiving my bachelor's in an unrelated (non-social services) field, or if I should do the coursework for the certificate and not worry about the associates. The associates would take me 4 more classes than just the certificate, but all of the classes seem like they would be relevant and interesting.

Is it strange to get an associates after a BA? Is it perceived any differently than just having a certificate? Thank you for your help!
posted by superlibby to Education (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Might as well, since its only 4 interesting classes.

I don't think it will help or harm you.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:04 AM on March 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Does the Associates coursework include the courses that you need to take for a certificate, or are they different?

If the courses are the same, you should try and get both.

Assuming they are different, you should get the certificate. An Associate degree after a BA comes across as a step backwards, where a certificate is perceived as above-and-beyond what you did for your undergraduate degree. Additionally, the certificate coursework can probably be applied later toward a Masters, where the Associate coursework could not be.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 8:35 AM on March 19, 2014 [4 favorites]

I did this (in a completely unrelated field, fashion design) and there were quite a handful of other students in the program who already had Bachelor's degrees as well...not to mention a few international students who already had Master's. So while it does seem a bit strange, there were enough of us who decided the experience/knowledge gained was worthwhile and made sense for our purposes. And for what it's worth, none of my classmates who stayed in NYC where the fashion industry is located seemed to have any problem getting jobs. YMMV of course.
posted by Shadow Boxer at 8:37 AM on March 19, 2014

The certificate will qualify you for what you need. If you get the Associate's, you will have to list it ahead of your Bachelor's in a chronological resume. People who want you to have a Bachelor's may stop reading there. Others will be confused. You never want readers of your resume scratching their heads trying to figure out what you were trying to do. Get the certificate.
posted by ubiquity at 8:45 AM on March 19, 2014

I think if you want to do it (and can afford the extra four classes) then that's all the real reason you need.

I don't think being able to list it as an AA rather than a certificate has any value, and having a completion date on it that is after the BA could cause some to question what's going on. In the worst possible case it could cause someone to think you're fibbing, since it's unusual. And as you get older you may want to start leaving the years off your education items so as to not expose yourself to stealth/inadvertent age discrimination.

But really, you can just list the certificate instead if that's confusing. So if it's going to make you happy, why not? Just don't talk yourself into doing this & deferring resuming work with the idea that it'll have a financial payoff, as it will not. Do it because you want to.
posted by phearlez at 8:49 AM on March 19, 2014

Best answer: I would agree there's probably not much benefit, in terms of your resume, of earning an associate's versus a certificate once you have a bachelor's. I have a bachelor's and a law degree, and I subsequently earned a graduate certificate. It didn't occur to me to pursue anything more involved for sake of a "bigger" degree, and I wouldn't today. What was useful for my resume is just noting that I've completed training in the discipline. The certificate accomplishes that.

The flip side is that I doubt an associate's would harm your resume, so the question becomes how interesting you find those additional classes. For me? If all things were equal and I would take the classes anyway, then yes, I'd enroll for the associate's. If I wouldn't be taking the classes regardless, then I wouldn't take them merely for the associate's, even if I found them interesting. I would put the certificate on my resume, and having accomplished that, I would put my time and money to work elsewhere.

And of course you can structure your resume however you want within the strictures of your field. The idea that education "has to" be chronological is silly. My graduate certificate is noted in a separate section on mine; my law degree tops the education section.
posted by cribcage at 9:03 AM on March 19, 2014 [2 favorites]

Are you certain that you wouldn't be able to fold in your General Ed requirements from your first BA and get a second BA in the new major?
posted by janey47 at 9:47 AM on March 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: So, the certificate coursework and the associates coursework are the same except for a few extra psychology/social services classes. All my prereqs/general education coursework would be covered, so it'd just be new coursework in psych. I would still receive the certification/meet the education and practicum requirements for the state licensure. It sounds like it's a good deal either way! Thank you for the feedback.
posted by superlibby at 10:03 AM on March 19, 2014

Best answer: you will have to list it ahead of your Bachelor's in a chronological resume.

You really don't.
posted by spaltavian at 10:10 AM on March 19, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I got an Associates after a Bachelor's, and my career (nursing) is based on my education through the Associates Degree. Nursing may be very different from the career you are pursing, though. I would check if any of the courses you took for your Bachelor's might count towards an Associates and save you time and money.

I was able to apply both Associates and Bachelor's courses toward a later Master's, and only credits from an accredited program applied in that case - something to keep in mind. I was happy about it a decade later when I decided to pursue a Master's, though it hadn't seemed important at the time.

And I am currently applying for jobs based on my Associates and Master's, and my bachelors is listed third on my resume.
posted by citygirl at 1:06 PM on March 19, 2014 [2 favorites]

Can you ask a professor or instructor, maybe? When I was contemplating a career switch, I emailed a professor in my intended field to ask if it was worth my going for an Associates rather than a Certificate, as I already had degrees in a completely unrelated field. The professor told me that with my background it would be a waste of time and money for my purposes. I am sure a professor in your intended program could help you assess the value of one over the other.
posted by sm1tten at 4:22 PM on March 19, 2014

If the courses are interesting and you aren't going into debt, then go ahead and get the associates. If someone questions it, the answer is inside your question: "My undergraduate degree was in an unrelated field and I was making a career change. The associates required 4 additional classes above the certificate and all of the classes seemed relevant and interesting."

Who's going to bust your ass because you took a few extra classes to prep for a career change?
posted by 26.2 at 7:22 PM on March 19, 2014

« Older Resources for executives learning about IT...   |   What is this vintage coffee device? Can I get one? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.