Associate of Applied Science (AAS Degree)

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Associate of Applied Science - AAS students studying

An Associate of Applied Science, AAS Degree, is a two-year undergraduate degree similar to the Associate of Arts (AA) and the Associate of Science (AS) degree. The AAS is an associate degree and is offered at most two-year community colleges, technical colleges, and vocational schools. It is also offered at some four-year colleges and universities.

What’s the difference between the AA, AS, and AAS degree?

The Associate of Applied Science is designed for students who intend to enter the workforce immediately following graduation from their program. Alternatively, the Associate of Arts (AA) and Associate of Science (AS) Degrees, are designed primarily as transfer degrees.

As most students go directly into their career field after graduating with their AAS, most schools that offer these programs require their students to choose an area of emphasis or specialty early on in the program. This allows the students to be adequately prepared for entry-level positions within their desired career field before graduation.

Earn Your Associate of Applied Science Degree Online. You May Qualify For $5,920 in Grants!

Are AAS credits transferable?

While some students who earn an associate degree may transfer to a four-year college or university to pursue a bachelor’s degree, it’s important to note that some AAS courses are not granted transfer equivalency credit, nor will they fulfill the general education requirements of a bachelor’s degree program. If a four-year college degree is in your future, it is more advantageous to earn an AA or AS degree from a regionally accredited community college or a community college that has established articulation agreements with four-year institutions.

Benefits of Earning an Associate of Applied Science Degree

Many of the benefits associated with earning an associate of applied science degree are the same as those for other associate degrees, but the biggest benefit of earning an AAS is that it is one of the fastest, most cost-effective ways of preparing for a career.

Typically, a bachelor’s degree is the best preparation for entry-level career positions. However, when you take into account that an associate of applied science degree is far less expensive and that the programs teach real-world skills that are immediately applicable in the workplace, the argument could be made that an AAS is a better option in some situations. These degrees can be particularly valuable in fields like IT and computer science where employers are less concerned about your degree and more concerned about your skills set.

Popular AAS Fields of Study

  • Accounting
  • Administrative Assistant
  • Business Administration
  • Computer Support and Operations
  • Computer Information Systems and Network Technologies
  • Computerized Drafting and Design
  • Criminal Justice
  • Customer Relationship Management
  • Digital Art
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Fashion Business
  • Fitness and Recreation Management
  • Human Services
  • Individualized Studies
  • Medical Administrative Assistant
  • Nursing
  • Paralegal Studies
  • Physical Therapist Assistant
  • Polysomnographic Technology
  • Respiratory Care
  • Teaching Assistant
  • Theater Technology
  • Tourism and Hospitality Management
  • Veterinary Technology
  • Web Design

Popular Associate of Applied Science Jobs

You will have earned the degree minimum for these jobs if you earn your associate in applied science.

Earn Your Associate of Applied Science Degree Online. You May Qualify For $5,920 in Grants!

Associate of Applied Science Program and Degree Requirements

Many of the requirements for earning an AAS are the same as those required for an AA or AS. However because an AAS is intended to prepare students to go directly into the workforce, these programs typically require the completion of 60 to 80 credit hours instead of 48 to 60 credit hours. Additionally, a much greater emphasis is placed on technical and career training throughout the program. Most programs require students to complete coursework in general education, technical specialization, and general electives and are typically required to earn a minimum number of credits in each area. Most schools also require students to maintain an overall GPA of 2.0 or higher in order to graduate.

General Education Requirements

General education courses are designed to help students master basic skills that are important for both personal and professional development. General education courses will help students to develop critical thinking, problems solving, communication, and foundational computing skills, as well as the ability to efficiently process quantitative data. Areas of study typically include computer literacy, mathematics, communications (written and oral), and social sciences.

Associate of applied science student

Technical Specialization

The technical specialization component of the AAS is designed to ensure students acquire the professional skills, knowledge, and experience required to become proficient and employable in their desired career field or discipline. Courses in the technical specialization are determined by a student career path, field of study and discipline. All technical courses specified in the selected program of study must be completed to graduate.

General Electives

The general electives component of an AAS program provides students with the opportunity to select courses of professional or personal interest. Unlike the general education and technical specialization components, students are typically at complete liberty to select any elective courses they want. However, smart students will sit down with a school guidance counselor to determine which elective courses will best support their desired career path.

Online Associate of Applied Science Degree Programs

Associate of Applied Science in Accounting

Given that much, if not all, of its course curriculum, can be hosted on the internet, the Associate of Applied Science in Accounting is one of the most popular of all available online degree programs. Not only is this program extremely flexible, it provides students a very useful and marketable skill set.

Topics covered in the AAS in Accounting online degree program include basics of accounting, financial analysis, economics, and communication. All subject matter addressed in this program can easily be performed and tested via any Internet-enabled computer terminal. Also, if you earn your AAS in Accounting from a regionally accredited institution you’ll (1) be qualified for entry-level career positions and (2) be able to transfer to a 4-year university to pursue a bachelor’s degree if you choose.

Associate of Applied Science in Business Administration

This flexible degree program is ideally suited for aspiring business professionals and managers who are seeking to increase their skill set or are looking to position themselves for entry-level managerial, operations, finance, bookkeeping or other business-related positions.

Typical topics covered in this program include accounting, finance, human resources management, communication, product management, organizational management, small business entrepreneurship and business management.

Earn Your Associate of Applied Science Degree Online. You May Qualify For $5,920 in Grants!

Associate of Applied Science in Criminal Justice

This degree program is primarily designed for working adults and aspiring career professionals who want to advance their current career or transition into a career in law enforcement and criminal justice. The online AAS in Criminal Justice covers a large variety of topics including criminal interviewing and interrogations, criminal law, constitutional law, terrorism, criminal evidence and procedure, corrections, and several other related subject areas.

Associate of Applied Science in Computer Information Systems

This is one of the most popular online associate degrees available. The AAS in Computer Information Systems (CIS) program is designed for working professionals and adults who are interested in acquiring the skills necessary to launch a career in information technology (IT) or positioning themselves for advancement opportunities in their current career.

Common topics addressed in this program include wireless network systems installations, hardware troubleshooting, software analysis and basic programming, data management and web development.


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