What is an Associate’s Degree in Science?

What is an Associates Degree in Science

An associate of science is a two-year undergraduate degree that provides college-level training in fields like science, business, engineering, allied health, and related STEM fields. Associate’s degrees are usually offered by community colleges and take two years to complete. Associate of applied science jobs are plentiful, and students with degrees in the above fields are in high demand. Prospective students can refer to rankings about the best associates degrees to find the right fit for their career goals. 

Most colleges and universities have generous credit transfer policies for students with an associate degree and allow them to complete a four-year bachelor’s degree in two years. They are available on campus as well as online. Students who are working and need a more flexible schedule often opt for an online associate degree. Affordable community colleges and some universities offer them programs that are affordable and set students up for success. An associate of science degree is designed to provide students with foundational knowledge and prepare them to transfer to a 4-year institution.

Students looking to get onto the workforce and a quick start to their careers should consider an associate degree in science and its many benefits. Associate degree in science also prepares students to pursue a bachelor’s degree in STEM fields. Some students may even take less time to complete or, depending on the flexibility of the program offered by the college, take a little more time if they need to stretch the program. 

Many students wish to enter the workforce right after completing high school but need to continue with their education at the same time. With an associate degree in science, students are prepared for jobs in multiple industries. Usually offered through community colleges, these provide them with a quick-start career as they earn a degree in two years or less. It is a basic degree that provides foundational knowledge for the field students are interested in and helps them find a job in their field. During the two-year associate program, students can set the path to an excellent career that matches that budget as well as interests. They can take courses on topics like mathematics, materials science, management, chemistry, and healthcare. 

What is an Associates Degree in Science

Is an associate of science degree worth it?

An associate of science degree helps students set the path to professional success, teach and increase their skills, qualify them for job opportunities with good earning potential. It provides training for a wide range of careers with competitive salaries and prepares graduates for jobs in multiple industries. There are many entry-level roles that do not require advanced degrees, making it easy for many students to get into the workforce early and start earning. It is a lucrative alternative to the four-year undergraduate approach, making it a worthwhile investment, and overall, it is a good way to start a career, 

What is an Associates Degree in Science

Benefits of an Associate of Science Degree?

An associate of science degree offers several professional benefits, including specialized training and higher earning potential.

  • Specialized training for in-demand careers.
  • Online AS programs provide the flexibility to help students balance their studies with other work-life obligations.
  • AS degree credits seamlessly transfer to bachelor’s programs, allowing students to earn their bachelor’s degree faster and cheaper. 
  • Online AS programs allow students to attend a school of their choice without relocating.
  • Students with an associate degree benefit from a higher median salary.
What is an Associates Degree in Science

What is the difference between an A.S. and A.A. degree?

An Associate in Science (AS) degree is specific to STEM and its related fields, covering a broad range of topics. A.S. majors include science, business, engineering, and allied health. They are great fit students who wish to pursue advanced STEM education and are looking for foundational knowledge.

An Associate in Arts (A.A.) degree offers wide-ranging courses that can include history, art, music, literature, writing, P.R., and communication. The broad curricula touch upon many subjects, thus preparing students for a wide range of careers and bachelor’s degrees. They offer immense potential for students. A.A. majors include communication, English, and liberal studies. A.A. degrees typically require fewer math and science courses than AS programs.

Then there are Associate in Applied Science (AAS) degrees that are great for students who want to earn a degree and get into a specific career path immediately. Typically, these are more technical or vocational degrees and could include programs like Web development & design, Nursing, Accounting, Teaching assistant, Paralegal, and Respiratory care, etc.

What is an Associates Degree in Science

Types of Associate of Science Programs

Students looking to earn an associate of science degree may specialize in disciplines like allied health, business, science, or engineering. These programs emphasize problem-solving and analytical skills.

  • Computer and Information Science – An AS program in computer and information science covers topics like web development, programming languages, coding, and computer science. Graduates with this degree can pursue roles like web developer, computer programmer, and computer support specialist.
  • Dental Hygienist – Dental hygienist programs train students in anatomy, oral health, and periodontics. Graduates with an associate degree in the field can work as dental hygienists with 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. They complete courses on topics like civil engineering, materials science, and electrical engineering.
  • Biology – An AS in Biology covers topics like biological systems, basic anatomy, and laboratory science. Graduates can work as biology technicians or use AS credits to transfer to a bachelor’s program.
What is an Associates Degree in Science

What Are the Requirements for an Associate of Science Degree?

Most associate science degrees require a high school diploma or the equivalent. Some schools may also require SAT or ACT scores, but it is not prevalent. Most of the time, this requirement is more common for bachelor’s degree programs. Applicants may also need to submit recommendation letters, a resume, and a statement of purpose.

Requirements for completing an AS degree include completing major courses and general education requirements, along with electives. There may also be laboratory or practicum requirements to give students hands-on experience. All in all, they usually need to complete 20 courses or around 60 credit hours to earn an associate degree.

What is an Associates Degree in Science

What will you learn in an Associate of Science Program?

Associate of Science degrees may focus on fields like natural sciences, allied health, engineering, business, and mathematics. It focuses on technical skills to help 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 
  • Biology 
  • Introduction to Computer Science
  • General Education Statistics
  • General Education Mathematics
  • Finite Math for Business & Management
  • Earth Science 
  • Applied Physical Science
What is an Associates Degree in Science

Concentrations to choose in an associate degree in science program

Students can select a concentration to tailor their general associate degree in science program to match their career goals and interests. Depending on their goals, they can choose between 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 already benefit from specialized programs like dental hygiene, nursing, or emergency medical services. At times, they may take longer to complete than a general associate degree program. Still, they allow for more generous credit transfers to a bachelor’s degree program or find jobs upon graduation.

What is the career outlook for an associate of science degree?

According to the 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 higher salary potential. Students can also transfer to a bachelor’s program with their AS degree credits and complete that degree in less than four years. 

Associate’s degrees provide the skills one needs to get started in a good career. Some of the best associate degrees lead to jobs that pay well, with careers that best align with one’s interests and educational aspirations. Some of the associate degrees that pay well lie in the area of skilled trades. AS degree holders can go into careers like lawyers, doctors, engineers, or therapists; however, they may need an advanced degree to grow in these fields. 

Some of the best associate degrees lie in healthcare and related fields with immense opportunities for students. Jobs like radiology technicians, dental hygienists, respiratory therapists, medical assistants, occupational and physical therapy assistants, and surgical technologists require only an associate degree. 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 as they pursue advanced studies. The sky’s the limit for these students, for they pursue a master’s in nursing or healthcare management for more administrative and leadership positions. 

Demand is high for people with specialized knowledge and skills, whether they have AS or AAS degrees. This includes 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.
  • Cooling.
  • Ventilation systems. 

Associate degrees that pay well lie in the field of information technology as well. 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. However, they may have to get an advanced degree to grow in these fields. 

There are many opportunities available in the agriculture-related field and agri-businesses. Students can find jobs in farms, cooperatives, horticulture services, implement dealers, greenhouses, and agriculture consulting firms. Opportunities abound in regular business areas like accounting, management, marketing, and other entry-level roles with an AS degree.

What is an Associates Degree in Science

A closer look at some of the high growth sectors for students with an associate of science degree include:


The medical field or healthcare is one of the fastest-growing sectors with a massive demand for medical workers. These frontline workers, from nursing aides to personal care providers have saved millions of lives during the pandemic. 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
What is an Associates Degree in Science

Information Technology 

Software and I.T. jobs are increasing every day. There is a rising need for people with knowledge of computers, networks, and new programs to set up these technologies and implement 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 
  • Phlebotomist
  • Medical assistant 
  • Emergency Medical technician (EMT)
  • Medical Biller
  • Pharmacy Technician
  • Laboratory Assistants 
  • Engineering Technician
What is an Associates Degree in Science

College debt and expenses can be hard to bear. Affordability is a significant benefit of associate degrees. Completing an associate degree takes less time and money than a bachelor’s degree. An associate’s degree in science can be beneficial in many ways as it prepares students to start working and gaining hands-on industry experience right after high school. It allows students to work and support themselves and prepares them for varied jobs and higher education. Since public community colleges mostly offer them, students can pay much lower tuition rates than public or private four-year colleges.

Students who wish to grow in their careers and learn more can apply to four-year undergraduate programs after earning their associate degrees. They can get a prestigious bachelor’s degree with just two additional years of study and at a lesser cost. 


U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 
U.S. News & World Report

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