An associate of science is a two-year undergraduate degree. This type of degree program provides college-level training. It is available in fields like science, business, engineering, allied health, and related STEM fields. Associate degrees are usually offered by community colleges or junior colleges. These programs take two years to complete. Associate of applied science jobs are plentiful. Thus, students with degrees in the above fields are in high demand. Prospective students can refer to rankings about the best associates degrees. This will help them find the right fit for their career goals.
Most colleges and universities offer generous credit transfer policies and transfer agreements. These programs are designed specifically for students with an associate degree. They allow students to complete a four-year bachelor’s degree in just two years. They are available on campus as well as online. Most working students who need a more flexible schedule opt for an online associate degree. Associate in science degree programs provide students with foundational knowledge. This prepares them to transfer to 4-year institutions.
Students with a desire to jumpstart their careers should consider the many benefits of an associate degree in science. This type of degree prepares students to pursue a bachelor’s degree in STEM fields. Plus, they’re versatile. Depending on the flexibility of the program, students may take less time to complete required courses. Or, they may extend the program to buy a little more time.
An associate degree in science prepares students for jobs in many industries, not simply a science related field. Usually offered through community colleges, these programs provide students with a quick-start career. Students can be job-ready in two years or less. This is the time it takes to complete general education requirements and other degree components.
The AS degree is a basic degree that provides foundational knowledge in a specific field. The two-year associate program can set the path to an excellent career that matches students’ budget and interests. Courses may include English composition, mathematics, materials science, management, chemistry, and healthcare. A variety of elective courses are also available.
Is an associate of science degree worth it?
Associate of science degree programs help students set the path to professional success. They do so by increasing their skills and qualifing them for job opportunities with good earning potential. They also provide training for a wide range of careers with competitive salaries in many different industries. There are many entry-level roles that do not require advanced degrees. This makes it easy for many associate degree students to get into the workforce early and start earning. It is a lucrative alternative to the four-year undergraduate approach and a worthwhile investment. Put simply, it is a good way to start a career.
Benefits of an Associate of Science Degree
Associate of science degrees offer several professional benefits. Some of these perks include specialized training and a higher earning potential. Other benefits of an AS degree are:
- Specialized training for in-demand careers.
- Flexible online AS programs help students balance their studies with other work-life obligations.
- Thanks to transfer agreements, AS degree credits easily transfer to bachelor’s programs. This allows students to earn their bachelor’s degree faster and cheaper.
- Online associate degree programs allow students to attend a great school without the need to move across the country.
- Students with an associate degree enjoy a higher median salary.
What is the difference between an A.S. and A.A. degree?
An Associate in Science (AS) degree is specific to STEM or a science related field. Still, it can cover a broad range of topics. A.S. majors include, business, engineering, social sciences, and allied health. This type of program is a great fit for students who need the foundational knowledge to pursue advanced STEM education.
An Associate in Arts (A.A.) degree offers wide-ranging courses. Examples include history, art, music, literature, writing, public relations, English composition, and communication. The diverse subject matter prepares students for a wide range of careers and bachelor’s degrees. Associate of Arts programs offer immense potential for students. A.A. majors include communication, English, and liberal studies. These degrees typically require fewer math and science courses. General education requirements are also less compared to AS programs.
Then there are Associate in Applied Science (AAS) degrees. These programs are great for students who want to start work on a specific career path immediately. Typically, these are more technical or vocational degrees. Examples include web development, nursing, accounting, teaching assistant, paralegal, and respiratory care.
Types of Associate of Science Programs
Students pursuing an associate of science degree may specialize in various disciplines. Examples include allied health, business, science, or engineering. These programs emphasize problem-solving and analytical skills.
- Computer and Information Science – An associate degree in science program in computer and information science covers topics like web development, programming languages, coding, and computer science. Those students who meet degree requirements can pursue roles like web developer, computer programmer, and computer support specialist.
- Dental Hygienist – Dental hygienist programs are common. They train students in anatomy, oral health, and periodontics. Graduates with an associate degree in the field can work as dental hygienists. These professionals earn a median annual salary of $76,220.
- Business Administration – Business administration AS degrees cover study topics like finance, accounting, communications, and management. This AS degree leads to career opportunities in marketing, sales, finance, administrative assisting, and project management.
- Engineering – An engineering degree at the associate level helps students build basic technical and problem-solving skills. Degree requirements may include classes in civil engineering, materials science, and electrical engineering.
- Biology – An AS in Biology covers topics like biological systems, environmental science, basic anatomy, and laboratory science. Students who meet degree requirements can work as biology technicians. Or, they can use AS credits to transfer to a bachelor’s program.
What Are the Degree Requirements for an Associate of Science?
Most associate science degrees require a high school diploma or equivalent. Some schools may also require SAT or ACT scores and cumulative GPA scores. Most of the time, this rule is more common for bachelor’s degree programs. For most community colleges, applicants will also need to submit recommendation letters, a resume, and a statement of purpose.
Requirements for completing an AS degree include major courses and general education requirements. Some elective courses may also be necessary. There could also be laboratory or practicum requirements to give students hands-on experience. All in all, students usually need to complete 20 courses or around 60 credit hours to earn an associate degree.
What will you learn in an Associate of Science Program?
Associate of Science degrees may focus on specific fields. These could include natural sciences, allied health, engineering, business, and mathematics. At most community colleges, these programs focus on technical skills. This approach helps prepare students to further their education and careers in scientific or technological industries.
Most programs also incorporate math courses. Associate of science courses builds strong analytical and critical thinking skills. Some examples include:
- Introduction to Chemistry
- Introduction to Physics
- Introduction to Engineering Sciences
- Introduction to Computer Science
- General Education Statistics
- General Education Mathematics
- Finite Math for Business & Management
- Earth Science
- Applied Physical Science
Concentrations to Choose in an Associate Degree in Science Program
Students can select a concentration to tailor their program to their career goals and interests. Examples include computer science, biology, physics, engineering, health sciences, and chemistry, among others. However, if they opt for an Associate of Applied Science degree, then they can enjoy specialized programs like dental hygiene, nursing, or emergency medical services. In some cases, AAS programs may take longer to complete than general associate degree programs. Still, they allow for more generous credit transfers to a bachelor’s degree program. They can also be more conducive to immediate employment upon graduation.
What is the career outlook for an associate of science degree?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), associate degree graduates may earn over $800 per week on average. The median salary for associate degree holders is $47,078 per year. Graduates with an associate of science degree can pursue engineering technician, dental hygienist, and web developer roles. Some degrees in engineering fields or dental hygiene can lead to a higher salary potential. Plus, students can also transfer to a bachelor’s program with their AS degree credits. This will allow them to complete that degree in less than four years.
Associate’s degrees provide the skills necessary to get started in a good career. Some of the best associate degrees lead to jobs that pay well and align with one’s interests and educational aspirations. Some of the associate degrees that pay the most lie in the area of skilled trades. Moreover, AS degree holders can eventually work as lawyers, doctors, engineers, or therapists. Still, they may need an advanced degree to grow in these fields.
Other high-paying associates degree jobs can be found in healthcare and related fields. These occupations hold immense opportunities for students. Jobs for radiology technicians, dental hygienists, respiratory therapists, medical assistants, occupational and physical therapy assistants, and surgical technologists require only an associate degree. Plus, students who are interested in becoming registered nurses can earn an associate degree to become an R.N., start practicing, and then move on to a bachelor’s degree for more advanced studies. The sky’s the limit for these students. They also have the opportunity to pursue a master’s in nursing or healthcare management for more administrative and leadership positions down the line.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that demand is high for professionals with specialized knowledge and skills. This includes graduates with either AS or AAS degrees. It also encompasses many careers in manufacturing like machining, welding, automation, mechanics, industrial maintenance, and construction. Other associate’s degree jobs in the skilled trades area include:
- Maintaining electrical and natural gas lines
- Installing and maintaining home heating
- Ventilation systems
Associate degrees that pay well can also be found in the field of information technology, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Careers in computer repairs, maintaining computer hardware, and managing computer networks begin with an associate degree in science. Students who wish to be software developers, computer programmers, and network troubleshooters will find many opportunities available for them. They may have to get an advanced degree to grow in these fields, though.
There are many opportunities available in the agriculture-related field and agri-businesses. Students can find jobs in farms, cooperatives, horticulture services, greenhouses, and agriculture consulting firms. Opportunities abound in regular business areas like accounting, management, and marketing.
Some of the high growth sectors for students with an associate of science degree include:
Healthcare is one of the fastest-growing job sectors in the U.S., so there is a massive demand for medical workers. From nursing aides to personal care providers, frontline workers have saved millions of lives during the pandemic. Currently, one can secure a top-quality job with an associate’s degree but may need an advanced degree to grow in the field.
Some high-growth jobs that require an associate’s degree are:
- Radiologic and MRI Technologist
- Nuclear Medicine Technologist
- Dental Hygienist
- Registered Nurse
- Medical Sonographer
- Personal Care Aides
- Home Health Aides
- Medical or Nursing Assistants
Software and IT jobs are increasing every day. Currently, there is a pressing need for people with knowledge of computers, networks, and new programs. Other professionals are hired to set up these technologies and use them effectively. Some high-growth jobs in the area that require an associate’s degree are:
- Web Developers
- Computer Programmers
- Computer Network Specialists
- Computer Support Specialists
- Computer System Analysts
- Network and Computer System Administrators
- Network Engineer
- Operations or I.T. manager
Other associates of science degree jobs include:
- Veterinary Technologist
- Chemical Technician
- Physical Therapist Assistant
- Geological and Petroleum Technician
- Medical Transcriptionist
- Medical assistant
- Emergency Medical technician (EMT)
- Medical Biller
- Pharmacy Technician
- Laboratory Assistants
- Engineering Technician
College debt and expenses can be hard to bear. Affordability is a significant benefit of associate degrees, though. Plus, completing an associate degree takes less time than a bachelor’s degree. An affordable associate’s degree in science prepares students to start working and gaining hands-on industry experience right after high school. This type of degree program also allows students to work and support themselves while preparing for varied jobs or higher education. Public community colleges and junior colleges usually offer these associate’s degree programs. That means students can pay much lower tuition rates than they would at public or private four-year colleges. Plus, financial aid is available for these academic programs.
The associate’s degree is just the beginning for many. Students who wish to grow in their careers and learn more can apply to four-year undergraduate programs after earning their two-year credentials. These ambitious grads can earn a prestigious bachelor’s degree at a lesser cost with just two extra years of study.