Applied Science Degrees: Associate, Bachelor's & Online Class Info

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What will you learn in an applied science degree program? Read about degree requirements, pros and cons of associate and bachelor's degree programs, and potential careers.
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Study Applied Science: Degrees at a Glance

Enroll in an associate or bachelor's degree program in applied science, and you'll receive in-depth instruction in a particular vocational specialty. Graduates of applied science degree programs can be qualified for employment in fields such as information technology, manufacturing technology, healthcare or medical services, business and more. Classes include general education courses, such as English composition and computer literacy, along with degree-specific courses like networking infrastructure or anatomy.

Associate Bachelor
Who is this degree for? Individuals interested in entry-level jobs in a vocational or technical field Individuals interested in leadership positions in a particular science or technical field
Common Career Paths (with approximate mean annual salary) - Administrative assistant ($33,000)*
- Automotive service technician ($39,000)*
- Credit counselor ($42,000)*
- Dental hygienist ($70,000)*
- Clinical lab technologist ($58,000)*
- Diagnostic medical sonographer ($66,000)*
Time to Completion 2 years full-time 4 years full-time
Common Graduation Requirements None Some programs require a capstone course or fieldwork
Prerequisites High school diploma or GED - High school diploma or GED
- Standardized test scores
Online Availability Limited availability Limited availability

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 figures).

Associate Degree in Applied Science

Associate in Applied Science (A.A.S.) programs are designed with specific workforce skills in mind. Students enrolled in this style of program choose a career focus that determines their coursework. The career focus of the curriculum can prepare you for jobs such as dental assistant, automotive repair technician, accounting clerk, computer applications assistant or administrative assistant.

When choosing a program, make sure it matches your career goals. Some programs might not provide sufficient academic training for your desired career. For instance, while you can find an A.A.S. program in accounting, you'll likely need at least a bachelor's degree if you want to work as an accountant.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • These programs are designed to prepare you to pursue employment in a particular occupation upon graduating
  • Community colleges often offer these programs, which can mean more affordable tuition rates
  • You'll be done with your education after just 2 years of full-time study

Cons

  • Might not provide you with as broad of an education as a program that isn't so vocationally focused
  • Not all applied science degree program credits are transferable to 4-year institutions
  • This program will not lead to as many career options as a bachelor's degree

Courses and Requirements

In every applied science degree program, the courses you take will be directly determined by the career path you're pursuing. So depending what your career focus is, you might take classes and learn skills ranging from material purchasing to Internet security to diagnostic test analysis.

In addition to core courses related to your vocational goals, you'll be required to take some general education courses. These requirements often include one course each in math and English competency. Some programs also have humanities and science requirements.

Online Degree Options

Associate degree programs in applied science are offered in a distance-learning format for some, but not all, vocational majors. For example, if you're pursuing this degree so you can begin a job as an administrative assistant, you should have no problem finding an online business administration program. However, if your program of choice is culinary arts or dental assistance, you'll likely have to enroll in a campus-based program.

Getting Ahead with This Degree

If you're looking for ways to stand out in your chosen field, you should consider an internship. If the program you're in doesn't offer internships, you can pursue this option on your own, possibly in the summer between the first and second years of your program. This can provide you with valuable professional experience and will look good on your resume.

Bachelor's Degree in Applied Science

Similar to the 2-year programs, these degree programs are career-oriented. Most colleges offer them in a variety of health, science and technology fields; however, a smaller number of institutions offer this degree in one specific area, such as radiation and imaging science. Either way, your curriculum will be shaped by your career goals and objectives.

People who already have work experience or want to know more about the practical aspects of their field might benefit most from these programs. Workers in fields such as information technology (IT), medical services and biotechnology can explore the technical side of their professions, coming away with expanded practical knowledge and an ability to apply a broad-based education to solving concrete problems.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • With this degree, you should be eligible for a broader range of careers than candidates who have an associate degree
  • Some programs are designed for working professionals and feature flexible evening and weekend course offerings
  • After you obtain your degree, you'll be poised to pursue graduate studies in your field

Cons

  • If employment opportunities in your chosen field decrease, this degree could provide you with less mobility than other degrees
  • Some science careers, such as epidemiologist or biochemist, require a graduate degree
  • Certain career paths, including jobs in the IT sector, can feature irregular work hours and mandatory overtime

Courses and Requirements

Required classes in a bachelor's degree program in applied science depend on the area of concentration. Courses will focus on developing real-world skills and practical knowledge of the specialty while providing a strong base of liberal arts basics. Sample classes for different degree specialties might include:

  • Journalistic writing
  • Medical terminology
  • Computer science
  • Construction engineering
  • Project management

Online Degree Options

Completely online degree programs are available in applied science. Most of these programs are designed for working professionals who already have an associate degree in an applied science field. Not all applied science concentrations are available in a distance-learning format.

Getting Ahead with This Degree

Undergraduate students looking to stand out from the crowd might want to examine the possibilities of joining a fraternal scientific organization. Honor societies (such as Chi Beta Phi) are open to male and female students, providing they have an adequate grade point average and are enrolled in an accredited academic program.

The purpose of these groups is to foster an interest across a range of scientific disciplines. Joining one of these societies could allow you to experience a wider academic arena than facilitated by your degree program.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Kaplan University

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • AASBA in Business
      • AAS in Legal Support and Services
      • Associate: Business Admin.
      • Associate: Business Admin. - Office Mgmt
      • Associate: Criminal Justice
      • Associate: Accounting
  • Campus Locations:
    2. Brightwood College

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • Medical Assistant - AS
  • Campus and Online Programs
    3. Judson University

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • Associate of Arts
  • Online Programs Available
    4. Herzing University

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • Associate of Science - Business Management
      • Associate of Science - Business Studies
      • Associate: Health Information Management
      • Associate: Healthcare Management
      • Associate of Science - Information Technology Admin and Management
      • Associate of Science - Accounting
  • Online Programs Available
    5. Keiser University

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • Associate of Sciences - Information Technology
      • Associate of Arts - Criminal Justice
      • Associate of Arts - Accounting
      • Associate of Arts - Paralegal
      • Associate of Arts - Homeland Security
      • Associate of Sciences - Medical Assistant
  • Online Programs Available
    6. American InterContinental University

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • Associate of Arts in Business Administration
      • Associate of Science in Criminal Justice
  • Online Programs Available
    7. ECPI University

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • Associate's - Electronics Engineering Technology
      • Associate's - Network Security
  • Online Programs Available
    8. Colorado Technical University

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • Associate of Science in Business Administration
  • Online Programs Available
    9. Indiana Wesleyan University

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • A.S. Business
      • A.S. Criminal Justice
      • A.S. General Studies - Business
      • A.S. General Studies - Communications
      • A.S. General Studies - Criminal Justice
      • A.S. General Studies - Liberal Arts
  • Online Programs Available
    10. Southern New Hampshire University

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • AA in Liberal Arts
      • AS in Marketing
      • AS in Accounting
      • AS in Business Administration
      • AA in Digital Photography
      • AS Criminal Justice

Featured Schools

Kaplan University

  • AASBA in Business
  • AAS in Legal Support and Services
  • Associate: Business Admin.

Which subject are you interested in?

Brightwood College

  • Medical Assistant - AS

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Judson University

  • Associate of Arts

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Herzing University

  • Associate of Science - Business Management
  • Associate of Science - Business Studies
  • Associate: Health Information Management

What is your highest level of education?

Keiser University

  • Associate of Sciences - Information Technology
  • Associate of Arts - Criminal Justice
  • Associate of Arts - Accounting

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American InterContinental University

  • Associate of Arts in Business Administration
  • Associate of Science in Criminal Justice

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ECPI University

  • Associate's - Electronics Engineering Technology
  • Associate's - Network Security

What is your highest level of education?

Colorado Technical University

  • Associate of Science in Business Administration

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