What Is An Associate Of Science Degree?
Career Opportunities

What Is An Associate Of Science Degree?

Key Takeaways

  • A two-year undergraduate degree focusing on fields such as science, business, engineering, allied health, and related STEM fields.

  • Availability of flexible online programs for balancing studies with other life commitments.

  • Ease of transferring AS degree credits to bachelor’s degree programs.

  • Graduates can pursue various roles like engineering technician, dental hygienist, and web developer.

  • Workers with an associate’s degree earned $938 per week in 2020, compared to $781 for those with a high school diploma.[1]

  • Typically, it requires a high school diploma or equivalent, and sometimes SAT/ACT scores and additional documents.

  • Projected job growth for STEM occupations, like computer and information technology, is expected to be 15% from 2020 to 2030, significantly surpassing the average growth rate.[2]

The Associate of Science (AS) degree is a gateway to a world of opportunity in various scientific and technical fields. This two-year undergraduate program blends core science and general education courses, preparing students for both immediate employment and further academic pursuits. Whether you’re looking to jumpstart your career or lay a solid foundation for a bachelor’s degree, the AS degree offers a versatile and practical approach to higher education.

This guide explores the benefits and opportunities of an Associate of Science degree, including career paths, curriculum, and admission requirements.

What Is An Associate Of Science Degree?

An Associate of Science (AS) degree is a two-year undergraduate degree that focuses on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. It is typically awarded by community colleges and some four-year colleges. 

Fast Fact

“AS degrees offer a wide array of majors including business, engineering, social sciences, and allied health, catering to a broad spectrum of student interests and career goals.”

Curriculum And Courses

The curriculum for an Associate of Science (AS) degree typically includes a combination of general education courses and courses in the student’s chosen STEM field. The specific courses required will vary depending on the program, but they may include:

General Education Courses

  • English Composition

  • College Algebra

  • Introduction to Biology

  • Introduction to Chemistry

  • Introduction to Physics

  • Introduction to Social Science

  • Introduction to humanities

STEM Courses

  • Mathematics: Calculus, statistics

  • Science: Biology, chemistry, physics

  • Engineering: Introduction to engineering, engineering mechanics

  • Computer Science: Programming, computer science principles

Career Opportunities And Professional Benefits

Fast Fact

“Graduates with an AS degree are in high demand in many industries, especially in technical and healthcare fields, reflecting the degree’s alignment with current job market needs.”

Increased Earning Potential: According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median weekly earnings for workers with an associate degree were $938 in 2020, compared to $781 for workers with a high school diploma. This suggests that workers with an AS degree can expect to earn more than those with just a high school diploma.[1]

Access To Higher-Paying Jobs: Many AS degrees lead to entry-level positions in STEM fields, which are some of the highest-paying occupations in the United States. For example, the median annual wage for computer and information systems managers was \$142,530 in 2020, while the median annual wage for registered nurses was \$82,180.

Faster Job Growth: Many STEM occupations are expected to grow faster than average in the coming years. For example, employment of computer and information technology occupations is projected to grow 15% from 2020 to 2030, much faster than the average for all occupations (4%).[2]

Advancement Opportunities: Many AS degrees can lead to advancement opportunities within a company or organization. For example, an AS degree in nursing can lead to a career as a nurse practitioner, while an AS degree in engineering can lead to a career as an engineer.

Transferability: Many AS degrees are designed to transfer to bachelor’s degree programs. This means that students can start their education at a two-year college and then transfer to a four-year college to complete their bachelor’s degree.

Professional Development Opportunities: Many professional organizations offer development opportunities for workers with AS degrees. These opportunities can help workers stay up-to-date on the latest industry trends and develop new skills.

Admission Requirements And Degree Completion 

Admission requirements for AS degrees are typically less stringent than for bachelor’s degrees. Additionally, AS degrees can be completed in less time than bachelor’s degrees. Here are the key requirements:

Admission Requirements:

  • High school diploma or equivalent.

  • Some colleges may require SAT or ACT scores and a minimum GPA of 2.0 or higher. 

  • Additional materials like a recommendation letter, resume, and statement of purpose might be requested.

  • Some AS programs may require you to complete specific courses, such as algebra or biology before you can apply.

Degree Completion Requirements:

  • Completion of major courses and general education requirements.

  • Elective courses are often required as well.

  • Laboratory or practicum components for hands-on experience.

  • Generally, students must complete about 60 credit hours, which translates to roughly 20 courses​​.

Frequently Asked Questions

We’ve answered some of the most common questions about what an Associate of Science Degree is to help you gain a clearer understanding of this.

What Types of Careers Can I Pursue with an AS Degree?

Graduates can pursue various careers such as engineering technician, dental hygienist, and web developer, among others.

Can Credits from an AS Degree Transfer to a Bachelor’s Program?

Yes, credits from AS degrees often transfer easily to bachelor’s programs, allowing for a faster and more cost-effective completion of a bachelor’s degree.

Are Online AS Programs Available?

Yes, many institutions offer flexible online AS programs, allowing students to balance their studies with other life obligations.

What is the Earning Potential with an AS Degree?

The median annual salary for AS degree holders is around $47,078, with higher potential in specialized fields.

Getting An Associate Of Science Degree

The Associate of Science degree is an excellent choice for those looking to establish a foothold in the scientific and technical sectors. It offers a balanced mix of theoretical knowledge and practical skills, providing a strong foundation for both immediate employment and future academic endeavors. Whether you aim to enter the workforce directly or pursue further studies, an AS degree can be a valuable and cost-effective stepping stone toward achieving your career goals.

Interested in enhancing your career prospects with a degree? Find out what bachelor’s degree programs are available at top universities.