Associate of Computer Science: Degree Overview

Associate's degree programs in computer science combine theory and practice to teach students about computer usage, programming and maintenance. Graduates can get a job in the IT field or enroll in a bachelor's degree program.

Essential Information

Students who want to study computer science may earn an Associate of Science (AS) or an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree in the field. In addition to basic computer science coursework, students may be required to gain hands-on experience learning through lab work. They may also be required to participate in internships with local businesses where they put their classroom knowledge to use in real-world situations.

Students may choose to work immediately after graduating or transfer to a 4-year college to pursue a bachelor's degree. Some schools offer 2+2 programs for students wishing to continue their studies, and some offer online degree options. A high school diploma or the equivalent is usually required for admission.

Associate's Degree in Computer Science

In AS and AAS programs in computer science, course topics may include:

  • Database management systems
  • Object-oriented programming
  • Data Structures and algorithms
  • Java for computer science
  • Visual programming

Popular Career Options

Computer science is a field that offers many career options to graduates. Possible career options for graduates include:

  • Computer programmer
  • Computer support specialist
  • Systems analyst

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts employment decline of 8% for computer programmers over the 2014-2024 decade (, while computer support specialists could see job opportunities grow by 12% over the same period. The median annual salary for computer programmers as of May 2015 was $79,530, and computer support specialists earned a median of $51,470, according to the BLS.

Continuing Education Information

Although many employers prefer that a computer technician or programmer has a bachelor's degree, employees may be hired with an associate's degree and some experience. Employers often provide additional on-the-job training.

Interested individuals may also choose to pursue a bachelor's degree in computer science and become computer software engineers, advanced computer programmers, systems managers or administrators. Certification, which can be obtained through training institutions, certifying agencies and software vendors, may improve employment and career advancement opportunities.

To summarize, AS and AAS in Computer Science programs provide a basic overview of the field, thereby enabling graduates to enter directly into information technology careers or to improve their employment options by pursuing more advanced education.

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