2 Year College Program Overviews

Students can pursue a 2-year program through community colleges, technical schools, junior colleges, and branches of 4-year universities. The most common 2-year college programs lead to an Associate of Science, Associate of Arts, or Associate of Applied Science. View article »

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  • 0:00 Overview of 2-Year…
  • 0:41 Types of Degrees Offered
  • 1:07 Associate of Applied Science
  • 1:42 Associate of Science
  • 2:10 Associate of Arts
  • 2:37 Admissions Requirements

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Video Transcript

Overview of 2-Year College Programs

College programs lasting for two years may result in an Associate of Applied Science, Associate of Science, or Associate of Arts degree. There are certain criteria that students must meet for admission to 2-year undergraduate programs. Two-year associate's degree programs typically lead to an associate's degree. Prior to graduation, students must generally complete about 60 credits of coursework. It is important to note that, although most associate's degree programs are meant to be completed in two years, the curriculum of a chosen field of study determines the exact length of time it takes to finish.

Types of Degrees Offered

Degrees earned through a 2-year program are either terminal or transfer associate's degrees. A terminal degree is meant to prepare graduates for immediate employment, while a transfer degree is designed to ready students to enter a 4-year university and continue their education. Many transfer associate's degrees are further classified by their emphasis on science or liberal arts. The three most common 2-year programs are detailed here.

Associate of Applied Science

An Associate of Applied Science (AAS) program focuses almost exclusively on coursework in the field of study. General education and liberal arts studies are relaxed so the student can focus on career training. Graduates with this degree often enter the workforce upon completion of the program. Examples of common AAS programs include:

  • Automotive technology
  • Computer-aided drafting and design
  • Fire science
  • Construction technology
  • Office management
  • Culinary arts
  • Health information technology

Associate of Science

An Associate of Science (AS) program is typically a transfer 2-year degree program that tends to focus on technology, mathematics, or the general sciences. The program blends core courses with general education requirements and electives. Students might focus on the following subjects during an AS program:

  • Mathematics
  • Physics
  • Computer science
  • Biology
  • Chemistry

Associate of Arts

An Associate of Arts (AA) program is usually a transfer program. This 2-year program covers the core courses needed for the first two years of a bachelor's degree program, usually with a liberal arts and humanities focus. Students might earn their degree in one of these fields:

  • English
  • Anthropology
  • Communication
  • History
  • Language and cultural studies
  • Philosophy

Admissions Requirements

Some of the most common admission requirements for 2-year associate's degree programs include:

  • High school diploma or GED
  • Previous school transcripts
  • ACT and/or SAT test scores
  • A personal statement

Some programs also have specific requirements such as previous work experience, a minimum GPA, and/or passing a background check, so prospective students should look into their school's specific requirements.


Undergraduate students can earn 2-year associate's degrees to prepare for future studies or particular careers. In order to get in, they need to meet specific admissions requirements.


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