What is an Associate Degree in Science in 2023?

There are certain benefits of acquiring an associate’s degree in science. Getting a job upon graduation is not one of them. Getting an entry-level job in the USA is the work of an associate’s degree in applied science.

So, learn what an associate degree in science is and what it would do for you before choosing it to start your career.

More high school graduates in the USA are choosing an associate degree instead of a four-year degree as it provides a quick route to enter a career path and start earning. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), about 4% of jobs in the USA were in occupations that require an associate’s degree for entry.

Furthermore, BLS estimates that an associate’s degree and postsecondary nondegree-level jobs in the USA will grow by 11% from 2016 to 2026. So, typically, more high school graduates will still choose an associate’s degree to begin the career of their choice. But while some kinds of associate degrees allow you to take jobs, the associate degree in science doesn’t.

For this reason, we will explain in detail what an associate’s degree in science (AS) really is. You will discover what it can do for you and how it differs from other associate’s degree. Read through this article to also discover the best schools to earn an AS degree.

What is an Associate Degree?

Before we delve fully into what this article is about – what is an associate degree in science? – let’s first understand what an associate degree is. Why do students choose it? What are the benefits?

An associate degree is a post-secondary degree. This means that it is an undergraduate degree, but a lower form of it. Hence, unlike the normal baccalaureate degree that takes four years to complete, the associate degree takes two years to complete.

Also, unlike the baccalaureate degree which you can get from a four-year accredited college, you can get an associate degree from community colleges and non-vocational institutes of higher learning.

What an associate degree does for students freshly out of high school is that it provides a faster, less expensive option of study. It is a program that prepares you for a four-year undergraduate program at College. Thus, it equips you with the basic knowledge of courses you’ll meet in a bachelor’s program as well as provides you with the basic skills you need to take certain entry-level jobs.

These are not all that an associate degree does for you. Below are the full benefits of pursuing an associate’s degree.

Get started with an associate’s degree see How Long It Takes To Get An Associate Degree

What are the Benefits of an Associate Degree Program?

Depending on the career you’ve chosen, you may find an associate degree useful or useless. But in no way is this post-secondary degree useless, which is why it is still in existence and will continue to be.

So, why should you pursue an associate degree program instead of other kinds of degree programs?

  • An associate degree leads you towards a sure path of earning a bachelor’s degree. Community colleges offering associate’s degree allows you the opportunity to transfer to a 4-year college through 2+2 Programs. Hence, your two years taking the associate’s degree prepares you to continue in your third year in a 4-year university.
  • With an associate’s degree, you can be able to balance school, family, and work. This is possible as associates degree offers you fewer credits than the bachelor’s degree and advancement in education technology has made it possible for you to get an associate’s degree program flexibly online.
  • An associate degree also helps you complete general education requirements for a bachelor’s program while exploring future studies. Thus, you will be able to explore other specializations in your field and decide whether to switch to one of them.
  • Another great advantage of an associate degree lowers your chances of staying unemployed. According to BLS data for 2017, unemployment stands at 3.4% for applicants with an associate degree, while those with a high school diploma face 4.6% unemployment.
  • Finally, earning an associate’s degree shows how committed you are to grow as a professional in your chosen career path. It mirrors your interest in continuing education in the future.

What Countries Recognize an Associate Degree?

While you’re liking the idea of an associate degree, you should know that not all countries of the world recognize an associate’s degree.

So, while it may be the minimum job entry requirement for some jobs in a country, it may not be a requirement at all for that same job in your country.

In other words, all the benefits of an associate’s degree will not pertain to you if your country does not recognize it.

So, here are countries, according to Wikipedia, that recognizes or once recognized associate degree.

  • Australia: The Australian Qualifications Framework added the associate degree to the Australia system in 2004.
  • Canada: British Columbia offers the American-style associate degree, while the other provinces in Canada offer similar similar higher education qualifications that are below the bachelor’s degree.
  • Netherlands: The Dutch system adopted the associate degree in 2007. However, it allows transfers to Higher Professional Education (HBO) bachelor’s degree but not a research-oriented (WO) bachelor’s degree.
  • United Kingdom: Associates degree first started in the UK in 1873, but the country has discontinued the degree program. They don’t offer it anymore.
  • Denmark: The associate degree in Denmark is “Erhvervsakademiuddannelser” which means Academy professional Degree (AP-Degree) and it takes 2 to 2.5 to complete.
  • Norway: In Norway, it is the “Høgskolekandidat,” which means University College Graduate and it takes two years to complete.
  • Hong Kong: Associate’s degree first came into Hong Kong in 2000 and provides a general academic education qualification, unlike the more vocational diploma of the USA.
  • Mexico: In Mexico, the associate’s degree is “técnica.”
  • The United States: Associate’s degree started in the USA in 1898 and is still very popular in the country, unlike the UK that discontinued theirs. Hence, you will find several variants of the associate’s degree here.

What are the Types of Associate’s Degree?

An associate degree varies by your area of study. So, it is either arts-inclined or science-inclined. Based on this, there are four major kinds of associate’s degree programs that you can choose from. They are:

  • AS (Associate of Science)
  • AA (Associate of Arts)
  • AAA (Associate of Applied Arts)
  • AAS (Associate of Applied Science)

The Associate of Science degree is the right option for you if you’re going for a career in the mathematics and science field. On the other hand, an Associate of Arts degree is ideal if you’re going for a career in the arts, humanities, and social science.

Meanwhile, here are other variants of the Associate degree, based on program, that you will find in the USA:

  • AAB – Associate of Applied Business
  • AAT – Associate of Applied Technology
  • ABA – Associate of Business Administration
  • AEET – Associate of Electrical Engineering Technology
  • AE – Associate of Electronics
  • AE/AEng – Associate of Engineering
  • AET/AEngT – Associate of Engineering Technology
  • AF – Associate of Forestry
  • AGS – Associate of General Studies
  • AIT – Associate of Industrial Technology
  • AN – Associate of Nursing/(ADN)Associate Degree Nurse/Nursing
  • ASN – Associate of Science in Nursing
  • AOS – Associate of Occupational Studies
  • AS – Associate of Science
  • AS-CAD: Associate of Science in Computer Assisted Design
  • AT – Associate of Technology

What is the Associate Degree in Science (AS)?

An associate degree in science (AS) is a two-year degree that you can take in a community college that prepares you further to pursue a bachelor’s degree in a four-year college.

It is the ideal degree for you if you are fresh from high school, you wish to pursue an education in a medical or science-related field, but are not sure how to go about it.

This degree program provides you with foundational knowledge that makes a four-year institution easier for you.

Hence, you will find community colleges that have a transfer agreement with four-year accredited colleges in their state. So, you’ll be taking credits in your AS that meet the program requirements of the school you are transferring to.

Like all other kinds of the Associate degree, a typical Associate Degree in Science takes two years to complete. It can take 15 to 18 months to complete, however, if you take certain kinds of online programs.

Most Associate’s degree in science degree programs are 60 credit hours programs, comprising of 20 courses. The program will have to fulfill general education requirements which include math, English composition, social science and humanities courses.

In addition to general requirements, you’ll fulfill your concentration requirements or take electives in your preferred area of study.

AS degree coursework varies by schools, so do well to check with a course advisor at your school to confirm the exact requirements for your program.

An Associate’s degree in Science is a general degree, so you may need to select a concentration on entering the degree program. Depending on your interest, you’ll be choosing any of the following concentrations:

  • Computer Science
  • Physics
  • Biology
  • Engineering
  • Chemistry
  • Health Sciences, etc.

Specialized Programs

There are also specialized Associate of Science Degree programs that you can take such as Dental Hygiene, Emergency Medical Services, and Nursing. However, these programs usually fall under the Associate of Applied Science (AAS) category and may take a longer duration to complete.

What is the Difference Between AA and AS Degree?

When we talk about the Associate’s Degree in Science, some people merely think of an associate’s degree program. Thus, they are lost when we begin to classify associate degrees into AA and AS.

Now, let’s get it once here.

Associate Degree in Arts (AA) and Associate Degree in Science (AS) has a couple of things in common. Both degrees show that you have completed coursework that is similar to the first few years of a university’s bachelor’s degree.

Meanwhile, there are undergraduate scholarships that you can apply upon transferring to college. Also, both are transfer degrees that don’t require specific technical training.

However, their key difference is in their content. The Associate of Arts Degree is a post-secondary degree program that covers liberal arts and science background, placing greater importance on humanities.

Thus, the kinds of programs you’ll find here include Social Sciences, Humanities, Literature, Performance Arts, and Fine Arts.

On the other hand, An Associate of Science Degree involves programs with a liberal arts and science background, but it places a greater emphasis on maths and science. So, when you earn an AS degree, you will most likely further to a BS in a science-related field.

What is the Difference Between AS and AAS Degree?

This is the more popular comparison in the world of associate’s degrees. This is because both focus on science and still have the associate’s degree tag to them.

So what makes them different from each other?

The major difference between an AS and an AAS degree is that the AS degree prepares you for further education in your chosen science field, while the AAS degree equips you with the knowledge and skill to jump into employment in your chosen science-related career.

Thus, you will take the AAS degree for a highly-specialized educational path that is oftentimes technical in nature and focuses on a single career field.

Examples of AAS programs are Accounting, Web Development & Design, Nursing, and Teaching Assistant. On completion of any of these AAS programs, you can gain entry-level jobs in the USA and start earning a salary.

High Paying Jobs you can get with an AAS Degree

Remember that an Associate of Science degree will not get you a job upon graduation but as an additional tip, here are jobs you can get with an AAS degree that are quite rewarding.

Meanwhile, an AS would also get you a job, but in most cases, you’ll need to further your education to reach these jobs.

An Associate’s degree in Applied Science will groom you to get a job a Computer Programmer in two years and earn up to $82,240 annually. Computer Programmers are the ones that create the code which computer applications and software functions with.


Purdue University Global’s AAS in Information Technology/Programming & Software Development will get you going.

Radiation therapists treat cancer and other diseases by using radiation treatments. With an Associates Degree in Applied Science, you can get a job as a Radiation Therapist and earn up to $80,570 annually as salary.


Amarillo College’s AAS in Radiation therapy is a wonderful program that can get you on your way.

Nuclear Technicians are professionals who have received rigorous training to assist in nuclear research and energy production. Most times, an Associates Degree in Applied Science will get you a job as a Nuclear Technician.


Although the growth for this job is 1%, Bismark State College’s AAS in Nuclear Power Technology is a good start if you’re interested.

Nuclear Medicine Technologists work in medical imaging by using a safe dose of radiation to get information on the patient’s body for diagnosis and treatment. With an Associate’s Degree in Applied Science, you can get a job as a Nuclear medicine Technologist.


A popular option is Bronx Community College’s AAS in Nuclear Technology.

With An Associate Degree in Science, you can get a job as an Air Traffic Controller and earn up to $124,450 annually. Air Traffic controllers are professionals who direct the flow of traffic at airports and other related job roles.


Embry Riddle Aeronautical University’s AS Aeronautics will get you going in just two years.

Where Can I get an Associate’s Degree in Science Program?

Remember that an Associate’s Degree in Science is very broad. It does not only include mathematics and science but also, social science. So, while you are deciding on where to get an AS degree, you must have decided on the program you wish to study.

Now, you can get an associate’s degree in science from a community or vocational college either on-campus or online.

We will proceed to show you some of the best schools (On-Campus and Online) in the USA to get an Associate’s Degree in Science Program.

Best On-Campus Schools for AS Degree Programs

Our major criteria for selecting on-campus schools with the best AS degree programs is the number and variety of AS programs they offer.

To that effect, here are the top 5 on-campus schools to get an AS degree.

#1. Glendale Community School

Glendale Community School is a community school located in Glendale, Arizona, USA. It is one of the best schools in the USA to get an AS degree.

This Arizona community college charges between $42 and $401 as tuition per credit unit for its programs. Popular AS programs here include Mathematics, Business Administration, Aviation Studies, and Chemistry.

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#2. Raritan Valley Community College

Raritan Valley Community College is another of the best colleges in the USA to get an Associates of Science degree.

Some of this New Jersey community College’s popular AS degree programs include Mathematics, Chemistry, Computer Science, Engineering, and Business Administration. The best part is that Raritan Valley’s tuition fees are cheap. It charges between $162 and $212.

#3. Mt, San Antonio College

Mt, San Antonio College offers some of the best AS programs in California and the US. Some of their popular courses include Accounting, Hospitality & Restaurant Management, FAshion Design & Technologies, Business Administration, and Television Production.

#4. Westchester Community College

At Westchester Community College, you can get AS programs such as Business Management, Marketing, Computer Science, Engineering Science, and Accounting for as low as $2,290 if you’re a New York resident and $5,885 as a Non-Resident.

#5. Valencia College

Valencia College started in Orlando, Florida in 1967 and to date offers some of the best AS degree programs in the state. This Florida Community College’s popular AS programs include Business Administration, Hospitality & Tourism Management, Film production Technology, and Network Engineering.

Are you interested in becoming a Horticulturist quick? Then you should also see How to Get A Horticulture Associate Degree Online? Schools, Programs, Cost

Best Online Schools for AS Degree Programs

Yes, you can also get your Associate of Science degree online at cheaper rates, with flexibility, and at a great quality online. Our criteria for selecting the best school is basically the number of AS degree programs the online school is offering.

The truth is that there are many online schools offering Associate’s degree but very few offer Associate’s in Science programs.

Here are the top 5 online schools to get an AS degree.

#1. Keiser University

Keiser University offers a great option to get an Associates of Science degree online. They offer six (6) A.S programs that cut across various fields of study.

These programs are Applied Engineering, Fire Science, Golf Management, Information Technology, Medical Administrative Billing & Coding, and Medical Assisting Science.

#2. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University is another great option for an online AS degree program but it offers only degrees that prepare you for a career in aviation.

Embry’s AS degree programs are Aeronautics, Aviation Business Administration, Aviation Maintenance, Aviation Maintenance Science, Engineering Fundamentals, and Technical Management.

#3. Middle Georgia State University

Middle Georgia State University offers four (4) AS degree programs that cut across various fields of study. They include Criminal Justice, Financial Technology (Fintech), Political Science, and Modern (Foreign) Language.

#4. Southwestern Assemblies of God

Just like Middle Georgia State University, Southwestern Assemblies of God also offers AS degree that cuts across several disciplines. They are Addictions Counseling, Human Services, Psychology, Administration, and General Studies.

#5. Liberty University

Liberty University is a popular and reputable online study choice for students at all levels and fields of study. And although they offer a good number of Associate degree programs online, they offer only one online Associate of Science degree. This is the STEM Mathematics A.S degree.

You should also see these Top 16 Online Associate of Business Administration Degree Programs

FAQs on Associate of Science Degree

What is an associate of science?

An Associate of Science degree helps you gather knowledge that will prepare you for a four-year bachelor’s degree in accredited colleges.

Do community colleges accept Associate of Science?

Some Community Colleges offering AS programs have plans that help you acquire credits that you can transfer to partner four-year universities and resume as a third-year student in the university.
To graduate with an associate’s degree in science you will have taken classes in general credits such as English composition, U.S. history, art appreciation, and mathematics (including algebra, calculus, and statistics).
However, some colleges may include an additional history course covering local history, while some others will put more emphasis on other communication classes such as public speaking or introduction to philosophy.

What is the difference between an Associate degree in Science (AS) and an Associate degree in Arts (AA)?

The difference between an Associate degree in Science (AS) and an Associate degree in Arts (AA) is that the AA degree covers programs in the liberal arts and science background while the AS degree does the same but places a greater emphasis on Maths and Science.

Is AS good if you are applying to medical school?

Yes, an associate of science degree is worth a lot especially if you’re a medical student who is waiting to get admission into a medical school.
The AS degree will prepare you with the foundational knowledge you need to keep you running on your feet when you land into a medical school.

Also, many specialized fields like aviation will require an AS degree to consider you for entry-level jobs.
You can get transfer credits to get into the university with an associate’s degree in applied science as well as get entry-level jobs that you can make money from while furthering your education.

How many credit unit is an AS?

Most associate degree in science, like many other kinds of associate’s degrees, are 60-credit degree programs. They will typically require you to take up to 20 courses. Meanwhile, this could differ slightly based on the school you choose.

Is an AS an undergraduate degree?

Yes, an associate’s degree is an undergraduate degree. However, it is a lower-level undergraduate degree as it takes two years to complete and only provide you with introductory knowledge of courses you’ll take in a four-year accredited college.


An associate degree is an undergraduate degree but it mostly prepares you for entrant into four-year accredited universities or for some kinds of entry-level jobs.

An associate’s degree in Science (A.S) is a kind of associate’s degree that favors programs in maths and science more than the liberal arts and humanities.

This does not mean, however, that the Associate’s degree in science does not encompass liberal arts and the humanities disciplines. It does, but unlike the Associates of Applied Science (AAS) degree, the Associate of Art (AS) degree will hardly get you a job upon graduation.

What it mostly does is prepare you for a university degree in mostly the mathematics and science field. So, if this is exactly what you want, we believe you found this post beneficial.

Meanwhile, if you need a higher kind of undergraduate degree, then you should also see: What is a Bachelor’s Degree: Meaning, Cost and Types


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