Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) degrees are offered online primarily through community colleges and vocational schools. In general, A.A.S. programs are designed to prepare students for entry-level positions right after graduation, whereas Associate of Science (A.S.) programs prepare students for further study at the bachelor's level. Both A.A.S. and A.S. programs may lead to degrees in the same field, but the coursework -- including general education requirements -- are somewhat different. Majors with A.A.S. degrees are numerous, including computer information systems, criminal justice, business administration and accounting.
Students in online programs access a virtual classroom to complete assignments or tests, communicate with classmates or instructors and view lectures. While much of the coursework is completed online, some A.A.S. programs require in-person experiences as well.
A few of the most common online Associate of Applied Science programs -- which usually take about two years to complete -- are as follows.
Computer Information Systems
The Associate of Applied Science in Computer Information Systems is one of the most common online degree programs at this level. This program is designed for those interested in learning about information technology (IT) without interrupting family or work obligations. Students can expect to learn about the following topics:
- Software and hardware troubleshooting
- Wireless network systems installation
- Database management
- Website design
Also widely available online is the Associate of Applied Science in Criminal Justice. This degree program is primarily targeted toward working professionals interested in transitioning to law enforcement careers. Online courses in this program cover:
- Interview and interrogations
- Criminal justice theory
- Criminal evidence
- Criminal procedure
- Constitutional law
- Anti-terrorism training and corrections.
Online Associate of Applied Science in Business Administration programs expose students to such business core subjects as finance, management principles and accounting. Individuals can gain the skills and practical knowledge necessary to operate and manage a business entirely through distance-learning technologies. Other topics include the following:
- Human resources management
- Small business management
- Effective communication
- New product management
- Organizational management
Associate of Applied Science in Accounting programs are prevalent online because much, if not all, of the subject matter is easily hosted on the Web. Core accounting concepts, such as taxation, financial analysis and microeconomics, are taught through written or audio-visual assignments. In some cases, graduates could be qualified to pursue a 4-year bachelor's degree provided they meet the necessary general education requirements or other prerequisites.
Associate of Applied Science degree programs offer a number of specializations, from criminal justice to accounting. They can be fully completed online and prepare students for a wide variety of entry-level occupations.