An associate of applied science degree (AAS) can be one of the quickest paths to a stable, well-paying career in a number of fields. Here’s what you need to know about this degree level, plus what you can do with an AAS degree and the next steps to take after you finish your AAS.

What Is an Associate of Applied Science Degree?

An associate of applied science degree, or AAS, is a two-year associate-level college degree with a focus on a particular applied science or technical skill. Students spend the majority of their coursework in technical courses directly related to their chosen area of study. Relevant AAS degrees can help aspiring professionals pursue career paths as diverse as dental hygienist, web developer or chemical technician.

Community colleges, vocational schools and traditional four-year colleges and universities all can offer AAS degrees. Not every institution offers every specialization, though.

Typically, the only prerequisites to earning an AAS degree are high school graduation (or equivalent) and acceptance at a school offering the program in question. Degree curriculum will vary depending on both the school you choose and the specialization you seek. That said, you should expect the curriculum to be highly focused on the technical skills needed for your chosen career field.

There are a wide range of positions available to graduates who hold an AAS degree. Many are well-paying roles that can develop into a fulfilling career.

Benefits of Earning an Associate of Applied Science Degree

There are quite a few benefits to earning an associate degree in one of the applied sciences. First, an AAS degree can be a quick path toward well-paying and meaningful work in a range of fields. Many students appreciate that they can move into the workforce quickly rather than spend four, six or even more years pursuing a higher-level degree.

Second, with a larger pool of institutions offering them, these degrees tend to be easier to access. You can’t earn a PhD at your local community college, but chances are quite high you can earn an AAS.

Third, the technical skills you learn in your AAS program are challenging, advanced skills that are in demand by today’s employers. The program may be short, but the technical knowledge you gain is invaluable.

How Long Does It Take to Earn an Associate of Applied Science?

Most associate programs are built with a two-year timeframe in mind. More and more programs offer flexible pacing, accelerated pacing or even both, so you might be able to complete all AAS classes in an even shorter timeframe. Or you may be able to slow down your studies if your responsibilities require it.

One thing you should know: AAS degrees tend to require more credit hours than other associate programs. Depending on your concentration and its credit requirements, you may need a little longer than two years to complete it.

Does an Associate of Applied Science Transfer?

While an AAS alone can be the ticket to solid jobs and good career prospects, many students consider going on to earn their bachelor’s degree after earning their associate of applied science degree. This leads to the natural question: Are AAS credits transferable?

The answer, for many institutions, is yes. If you’ve earned your AAS at a regionally accredited institution, your credits may transfer into bachelor’s programs at many universities, including Siena Heights University.

In fact, here at Siena Heights University, we offer a fully customizable Bachelor of Applied Science degree that rounds out what you learned in your AAS classes. This undergraduate program is unique in that it isn’t designed to further your understanding of your particular discipline—there are no technical courses in dental hygiene, web development or whatever area your AAS focused on. Instead, you’ll pursue a curriculum in the liberal arts to give you the full educational experience of a traditional bachelor’s program, as well as customized courses that support your desired career path.

This unique approach creates significant value, allowing you to round out your technical knowledge with complementary courses in business or communication, for example.

Associate of Applied Science vs Associate of Science

These two degrees have similar names, but they have significantly different outcomes. An Associate of Applied Science degree prepares you to immediately enter the workforce in some kind of technical role. In this way, the AAS can be considered a terminal degree. It’s the highest expected degree to enter and be successful in a given career path as it incorporates the hands-on technical skills needed in the field. An Associate of Science degree, or AS degree, is different. Typically, this degree is preparatory and offered with the intent of transferring into a four-year program.

Is an AAS Degree Worth Anything?

Yes, as covered above, an AAS degree can be the key to many professional career paths. As a result, an AAS degree is worth plenty if your goal is to obtain the skills needed to enter one of those fields and get your career started. Additionally, with the ability to transition toward a Bachelor of Applied Science, you can continue your education while working In your technical field.

Popular AAS Fields of Study

There are many jobs that require or at least benefit from a specific AAS degree or certification, including:

  • Dental hygienist
  • Sonographer
  • Physical therapist assistant
  • Bookkeeper
  • Mechanic
  • Entry-level technology positions
  • Heavy industry technicians (chemical, petroleum, geological, etc.)

Is an AAS Degree Right for You?

If your end goal is to enter a career path for which an AAS degree is expected then, yes, an AAS degree is likely right for you.

That said, you might not want to stop there. AAS classes can teach you the technical skills necessary to become a web developer or bookkeeper. But they won’t teach you how to launch your own business in those fields, nor will they focus on improving your marketing, communication or other vital professional and interpersonal skills. In this way, the AAS will help you enter your chosen career field with technical expertise as you determine when and how you may want to further your educate to advance your career.

Continue Your Educational Journey at Siena Heights University

If you have an entrepreneurial spirit, consider extending your education with a bachelor of applied science degree at Siena Heights to pick up whatever other skills you need to round out your technical education.

You may be closer to a bachelor’s degree than you think. At Siena Heights University, we go the extra mile to ensure you get the college credit you deserve. Advance your career in your field of expertise with one of our customizable degree completion programs. Contact us today!