Associate of Science (AS) Degree

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What Is An Associate of Science, AS Degree?

Like the Associate of Arts (AA), the Associate of Science (AS) is a two-year undergraduate transfer degree that is primarily intended as a stepping stone into a bachelor’s degree program. Associate of Science degrees are offered at community colleges and vocational schools, as well as a few four-year colleges and universities. The AS helps students develop useful skills and knowledge that will help them qualify for entry-level career positions in business, government, and social service.

What You Should Know About Associate of Science Degrees

What Are the Benefits of An Associate of Science (AS) Degree?

There are several benefits to earning a two-year Associate of Science (AS) degree:

  1. The credits earned via an AS degree at a community college are usually much less expensive than comparable credits earned in a bachelor’s degree at a four-year college or university. If you earn your AS at an accredited school or one that has articulation agreements in place, you can save yourself the high cost of attending a four-year college for the first two years of your undergraduate education.
  2. A well-planned AS is an excellent way to prepare yourself for a bachelor’s degree at a four-year college. If you didn’t have the best grades in high school, performing well in your AS program will show college admissions officers that you have what it takes to be successful in a bachelor’s degree program.
  3. An AS degree will give you the chance to learn more about yourself, your interests, and explore various career options. So if you’re not ready for a four-year college and don’t what you want to major in, an AS degree might just be your best option.

What’s the Difference Between an AS and an AA Degree?

The AS and AA Degrees differ in the focus of their coursework. Where the AA focuses primarily on liberal arts, AS coursework focuses on the sciences. Although their core focus is different, both are intended as transfer degrees that launch students into a bachelor’s degree program. Students who intend on entering the workforce immediately after graduating with an associates should consider other degree options including the Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree.

Will My Associate of Science Credits Transfer?

As the AS is designed to prepare students for a bachelor’s degree program at an accredited college or university, it’s important to make sure that you earn your AS from a reputable institution that is either (1) regionally accredited or (2) has articulation agreements in place with four-year colleges or universities you wish to attend. The majority of four-year colleges and universities are regionally accredited and only accept transfer credits from other regionally accredited institutions. Unfortunately, a lot of community colleges are nationally accredited. If you earn your AS at a nationally accredited community college or vocational school there’s a high probability that the credits you earn may not be transferable to the college or university where you want to pursue a bachelor’s degree. However, some community colleges have articulation agreements in place with four-year colleges that guarantee admission of their student and transferability of credits earned upon graduation. For example, Tohono O-Odham Community College in Sellz, Arizona has articulation agreements in place with several four-year colleges and universities in Arizona, whereby ensuring that its students upon graduation will automatically be accepted to these institutions and their credits will transfer.

It’s also important to make sure that the courses you take, both general education and major specific, are in-line with the major you want to pursue and that they meet the general education requirements for the bachelor’s degree programs you plan on attending. No matter where you earn your degree it’s important to meet with a transfer counselor before starting your AS program, as credit transfer and college admissions policies vary from school to school.

Associate of Science (AS) Degree Requirements

It usually requires 48 to 60 semester hours to complete an Associate of Arts (AS) degree, although completion time will vary from school to school. While an AS degree allows students to take several elective courses, it has had a standard core curriculum which essentially includes the basic first-year and second-year offerings appropriate for the first two years of many bachelor degree programs. Required fields of study usually include communications (writing and oral), humanities and social sciences (art, music, business, economics, etc.), natural sciences (biology, chemistry, geology, etc.) and mathematics. A typical Associate of Science program will include about 18 to 20 hours of elective coursework and 35 to 50 hours of required coursework.

Career Opportunities For AS Degree Holders

As previously mentioned, an Associate of Science degree is designed primarily as a transfer degree. However, students will acquire new knowledge and develop skills such as critical thinking, analytical problems solving and communication that can be applied in entry-level jobs across various industries.


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