Interested in the field of science, but are not sure if you want to pursue a bachelor’s degree yet? Consider pursuing an Associate of science (AS) degree. 

This associate’s degree helps you gain foundational understanding of various concepts of science, and serves as a stepping stone if you wish to continue your education with a bachelor’s degree. What’s more? An AS degree offers the opportunity to gain entry level jobs in numerous service sectors that use scientific and mathematical concepts on a regular basis. 
In this article, we’ll dive deeper and explore the various aspects of an associates of science degree, such as its duration, the subjects you can study, admission requirements of this program and the benefits of pursuing this program.

In simple terms, an Associate of Science (AS) degree is a two-year academic program, typically offered by community colleges and some universities. This program primarily focuses on providing foundational understanding of science and mathematics to students interested in jobs that use these skills. 

Introducing you to core concepts in the fields of biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics, and engineering, this degree offers a perfect pathway for you to either continue your education at a four-year institution, or to enter the workforce in entry-level positions related to science and technology.

With an AS degree, you can study a plethora of subjects like business, health sciences, technology, natural sciences, social sciences, communication and media studies, and many more. Let’s look at some of these subjects and the topics covered within them in detail:

  1. Natural Sciences: The study of natural sciences includes investigating phenomena in the physical world. The topics in which you can get an associate of science degree, under this category, include:
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Physics
  • Environmental Science
  1. Mathematics and Statistics: This field of study involves the study of numerical patterns, relationships, and data analysis, providing essential tools for problem-solving and decision-making in various fields. Under math and statistics, you get to learn:
  • Calculus
  • Algebra
  • Statistics
  1. Engineering: This category includes learning how to apply scientific principles to design and create solutions for real-world problems. While there are multiple fields of study within engineering, the most common ones that you can explore with an associate degree in science include:
  • Civil Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Electrical Engineering
  • Computer Engineering
  1. Health Sciences: In health sciences, your main focus would be to gain a thorough understanding of healthcare-related topics. An AS in health sciences can equip you with skills and fundamentals needed to take care of people in a wide range of medical specialties. The topics in this category include:
  • Nursing
  • Allied Health
  • Medical Laboratory Technology
  • Radiologic Technology
  1. Computer Science and Information Technology: One of the popular choices, this category includes exploring areas of computer science, information technology, and engineering. While computer science generally deals with designing and building computers and its programs, IT work deals more with running the computers of an organization, and making sure the related networks and systems are operational. Its topics include:
  • Programming
  • Database Management
  • Networking
  • Web Development
  1. Business and Management: As an AS student in business and management, you will get a thorough understanding of how organizations operate on a daily basis. This includes planning, organizing, directing, and controlling the activities of a business or organization to achieve its goals and objectives. The popular topics under this category would be:
  • Accounting
  • Marketing
  • Management
  • Economics
  1. Social Sciences:  The branch of science that is dedicated to analyzing human behavior and society through various disciplines is called social science. This subject focuses on the study of societies and the relationships among individuals within those societies. The concepts that you can learn with this degree program are: 
  • Psychology
  • Sociology
  • Anthropology
  • Political Science
  1. Communication and Media Studies: As a communications and multimedia student, you get a chance to examine how information is conveyed through various channels such as communication. With an AS degree in this field, you learn corporate communication, new media and public relations, and can find work in the media and creative industries. Topics covered under this category include:
  • Journalism
  • Public Relations
  • Film Studies
  • Digital Media

An associate of science degree offers a diverse range of subjects across various fields, providing a solid foundation for further academic pursuits or entry into the workforce.

In this section, we’ll explore how you can apply for an associates degree in science.. Here are the most common application requirements:

  • High School Diploma or Equivalent: This is the basic requirement to demonstrate that you have completed your secondary education.
  • Minimum GPA: While not a mandatory requirement, some schools may need you to earn a minimum GPA to ensure that you have achieved a certain level of academic performance in high school.
  • Transcripts: Official transcripts are documents that provide a comprehensive record of the courses taken and grades earned throughout high school. This allows the admissions officers to evaluate your academic preparedness.
  • Standardized Test Scores: SAT or ACT scores can provide additional insight into your academic abilities, but most associate degree programs don’t require them. 
  • Prerequisite Courses: Some programs may request prerequisite courses to ensure that you have a foundational understanding of key subjects before entering the AS degree program. These courses can help you better understand the advanced coursework that an associates of science degree might offer.
  • Application Form: Next is filling out the application form that collects essential information including your personal details, educational background, and program preferences.
  • Application Fee: Your application fee covers the administrative costs associated with processing your application. This is a standard practice for most colleges and universities, but some offer free application.
  • Letters of Recommendation: While not a mandatory requirement, some colleges may ask for letters of recommendation. These documents provide insights into your character, work ethic, and potential for success in the AS degree program.
  • Personal Statement/Essay (Optional): A personal statement or essay allows you to showcase your unique qualities, motivations, and aspirations, helping admissions officers understand why you’re a good fit for the program.
  • Interview (Sometimes): Some colleges may call you in for an interview. This interaction allows you to further demonstrate your qualifications and suitability for the program. Also, it provides an opportunity for admissions officers to ask questions and assess fit beyond what is conveyed on paper.

Before applying for a program, it’s a good idea to check the program’s particular requirements carefully, so that you can better prepare your application and increase your chances of admission. 

Jobs with an Associate of Science Degree

Apart from being a stepping stone to further education, an associates degree in science can open up a plethora of job opportunities in various fields of science. Some examples of such jobs are:

  1. Registered Nurse (RN): With an Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN) degree, you could sit for the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) exam and begin your career as a registered nurse. As a nurse, you would be responsible for providing patient care, and educating patients and the public about various health conditions. As of 2022, the median annual wage for registered nurses was $81,220.
  1. Radiologic Technologist: As a radiologic technologist, you would get to perform diagnostic imaging examinations like X-rays, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans and computed tomography (CT) scans on patients. You could advance your career and become a specialist in specific techniques such as cardiovascular-interventional radiography, mammography or sonography. The average salary of a radiology technologist, as of 2024 is $66,301
  1. Medical Laboratory Technician: If you chose to become a medical lab technician, your primary responsibility would be collecting samples and performing tests to analyze body fluids, tissues, and other substances. The annual salary range for a Medical Laboratory Technician job is from $36,760 to $54,015.
  1. Dental Hygienist: As a dental hygienist, your main focus would be to conduct initial screening and examine patients for oral diseases, clean teeth and remove plaque, and provide other preventive dental care. You’ll also be responsible for assisting dentists in deciding treatments for teeth or gum diseases and handling dental emergencies. As of 2024, the average salary of a dental hygienist is determined at $82,758. 
  1. Computer Support Specialist: Once you become a computer support specialist, you would be providing help and advice to people and organizations using computer software or equipment. You would also be required to document customers’ descriptions of their computer problems and guide them through the recommended problem-solving steps. The median annual wage for computer network support specialists was $68,050 in 2022.
  1. Environmental Science Technician: With an AS degree, you could enter the workforce as an environmental science technician. In this role, you would be responsible for conducting laboratory and field tests to monitor the environment and investigate sources of pollution. Most technicians assist  work under the supervision of environmental scientists and specialists, who provide direction to their work and evaluate final results. As an environmental science technician, on average, you could earn about $48,380.
  1. Mechanical Engineering Technician: These technicians usually assist mechanical engineers in designing, developing, testing, and manufacturing machinery. They also help engineers improve designs or incorporate new technology. Their median annual wage, as of 2022, was determined to be $61,990

It is important to remember that these salaries can differ based on various factors such as location, experience, and employer. It’s wise to pick a career based on your interests and preferences.

Another degree that you could consider, that’s somewhat similar to the AS degree, is the Associate of Applied (AAS) degree. Let’s take a quick look at what’s included in this program.

An Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree is an undergraduate program typically offered by community colleges and technical schools, and spans for two years. Unlike an Associate of Science (AS) degree, which is more focused on general education and transferability to four-year institutions, the AAS degree offers practical skills and vocational training for specific career paths.

The curriculum of an AAS degree program is designed to train students to work in fields like healthcare, business, technology, and skilled trades. In this program, you would get to engage in hands-on training, internships, and practicums to gain real-world experience and build industry-specific skills.

Once you complete an AAS degree, you would be equipped with the knowledge and skills needed to gain entry-level positions within your chosen field. Some AAS programs may also offer transfer options for students who wish to pursue further education at a four-year institution. This, however, varies depending on the specific program and institution. In a nutshell, an AAS degree provides a practical and efficient jumpstart for students who wish to enter the workforce or advance their career within a particular industry.

Difference between an AS and an AAS degree

While both – Associate of Science and Associate of Applied Science – cover the concepts of science, their focus and scope differ from one another. Let’s dive deeper into the differences between AS and AAS degree programs:

CharacteristicAssociate of Science DegreeAssociate of Applied Science Degree
Degree AbbreviationASAAS
FocusGeneral education and transferability to a 4-year institutionPractical skills and vocational training for specific careers
CurriculumEmphasizes a broad foundation in general education courses, including mathematics, natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities.Focuses on applied skills and practical training specific to a particular career or industry.
TransferabilityDesigned to transfer credits to a four-year college or university for students who plan to pursue a bachelor’s degree.Primarily intended for immediate entry into the workforce, and as a result, credits may not transfer as easily to four-year institutions. 
Career FocusPrepares you to enter the workforce or to pursue further education in a specific field, such as engineering, biology, or psychology.Prepares you for immediate entry into the workforce in fields such as nursing, automotive technology, or computer programming.
InternshipsWhile not as common as in AAS programs, some AS programs may offer internship or practicum opportunities.Often includes opportunities for internships or practicums to provide real-world experience.

Remember, the choice between an AS and AAS degree depends on your academic and career goals. If you plan to pursue further education, an AS degree may be more appropriate. But if you’re looking to enter the workforce quickly with a specific career in mind, an AAS degree may better suit your needs.

Being a versatile and valuable program, the Associate of Science (AS) degree opens doors to a wide range of opportunities for both further education and the workforce. Upon graduation, this degree sets a solid foundation in scientific and mathematical principles, setting you up for success in careers in various fields like healthcare, technology, engineering, and many other industries.

One of the key benefits of an AS degree is its flexibility. Whether you choose to enter the job market directly after graduation or continue your education at a four-year institution, the AS degree will provide you with a solid academic foundation. Overall, the associate of science degree is an excellent choice for students looking to further their education or kickstart their career in various fields of science and technology.

How many credits do you need for an associate degree?

To earn an associate degree, you will need to complete a minimum of 60 course credits. This is equivalent to about 20 three-credit courses. The number of credits required may vary slightly depending on the college and the field of study. While it is possible to obtain an associate degree with 60 credits, you must take the courses for your given program.

Can you transfer credits from one college to another for an associate degree?

Yes, it is possible to transfer credits from one college to another for an associate degree. The process of transferring credits from one college to another varies depending on the college and the field of study. However, in most cases, credits earned for an associate degree can be transferred to a four-year institution as general education or elective credits. Even if you decide to pursue a different major at the bachelor’s level, your associate courses often transfer as general education or elective credits.