Possessives and Attributives

Q. I am agitated about the institutional inconsistency on this point and found the College Board to be of no help, so I turn to you. What is the proper treatment of an associate degree? As I have stated it, or is it “associates” or “associate’s”?

A. Someday someone will do something about institutional inconsistency, and then we can all retire. Meanwhile, both “associate degree” and “associate’s degree” are widely used, and they both seem reasonable and logical. Even if the board never decides on one or the other, you can.