Program Info for 2-Year Degrees
Learn about the types of two-year degrees that are available, possible admissions requirements, and available program formats. Compare transfer degrees and career training degrees. Two-year degree programs are most often offered at technical, community, and junior colleges, although some four-year colleges and universities offer two-year degrees as well.
Types of Degrees
The three main types of two-year degrees are the Associate of Arts (A.A.), the Associate of Science (A.S.), and the Associate of Applied Science (AAS), although several other types of associate's degrees exist. Depending on the degree designation, a two-year degree program provides either career training or courses that can be credited towards a bachelor's degree at a four-year institution.
Both A.A. and A.S. degree programs are designed to resemble the first two years of schooling at a four-year college or university. In addition to courses in their major field of study, students must also fulfill general education requirements. At the end of the program, students are often able to transfer credits earned to a four-year college or university. An A.A. program focuses on a broader liberal arts curriculum with programs devoted to subjects like:
- Graphic arts
- Hospitality administration
- Physical education
An A.S. program usually has a greater technical focus and may be best for students looking to eventually major in science and technology fields. Areas of focus can include:
- Accounting technology
- Computer engineering technology
- Environmental science
- Business administration
Career Training Degrees
An AAS degree program provides career training in subjects such as auto and computer repair, electronics, allied health, and construction. While AAS programs tend to focus on career training, some general education courses such as English, science, and mathematics are typically also required. This type of associate's degree program is designed to prepare students to enter the job market immediately upon graduation. Some examples of AAS programs include:
- Architectural design and drafting
- Civil engineering technology
- Computer information systems
- Fitness technology
Many two-year institutions function on an open-admissions basis, meaning that individuals must have a high school diploma or the equivalent. Other specialized programs, in subjects like allied health, may have admissions requirements or prerequisites. These additional requirements may include:
- Minimum high school GPA
- Prerequisite high school coursework in subjects like math and science
- Minimum Sat and/or ACT test scores in certain subjects
- Passing an entrance exam
- Passing a background check
Traditionally, two-year degrees are completed on campus. However, more and more schools are offering online associate's degree programs for distance learners, which are more convenient for individuals with other scheduling commitments or those who do not live near two-year schools. Programs that require hands-on training may be available in hybrid formats that consist of a combination of online and in-person requirements.
Two-year associate's degree programs, including A.A., A.S., and AAS programs, can prepare individuals for transfer into higher-level programs or for immediate entrance into the workforce, and they may be available in multiple formats.