written by: KAFrancis•edited by: Noreen Gunnell•updated: 6/27/2011
Choosing a college career path? Consider an Associates in Science degree from a junior or community college. It could take you further than you think.
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Defining an Associate Degree
An Associates in Science degree is a two-year degree that focuses on math and science as its core curriculum. The A.S. degree differs from a Associates of Arts or Associates of Applied Science. Associates of Arts is generally a start toward a four-year degree, while the Associates in Applied Science is a degree students can attain in specific areas of study to use for a career in that area. The Associates in Science, depending on the major, can be used as a terminal degree, meaning the student does not plan to pursue a higher degree, or it can be used as the base for a four-year degree. This makes the Associate in Science degree the most flexible of the two-year degree options. This degree is offered by community colleges, junior colleges and some four-year institutions offer the option as well.
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An Associates in Science degree makes a person more marketable in the workplace in comparison to a person with only a high school diploma. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, a person with an associates degree will make roughly $6,600 more per year than a person with just a high school diploma. Associate degree holders also have an unemployment rate that is 30 percent lower than high school graduates. For students who are not sure if they are suited for the college environment, attaining an Associate in Science degree is a way to test the collegiate waters while still earning an education that will assist them in the workforce.
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Course of Study
Associate of Science programs offer course work in English, sociology, psychology, biology, religion and political science. The general degree requirements roughly include 10 to 12 hours of English and literature, 10 hours of mathematics, 5 hours of history, 5 hours of humanities, 10 hours of social or behavioral science, 15 hours of biology and physical science and 5-10 hours of electives in either math or science. Another 30 hours in a specialization such as math, science, accounting or general business is also required.
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What To Do With an Associates in Science Degree
Graduates with an Associates in Science have several professional options available to them. Positions in the business sector, such as lower to middle management positions, administrative assistants, executive assistants, lower level human resource jobs and most entry level positions can be attained with an Associate of Science. Jobs in the engineering field such as engineering technicians are available to associate degree graduates provided they took a substantial amount of math and science, and the agriculture industry welcomes the degree. And of course, there is always the option to use the associate's degree as a jumping off point for a bachelor's degree from a four-year college or university. So, the question of what to do with an Associates in Science Degree is rather moot.