An associate degree in science is the most basic degree a student interested in the sciences can obtain. It can be earned at most community or junior colleges, although universities sometimes offer an associate degree as after 2 years of study, even if a student is enrolled in a 4-year program. These associated degrees are meant to be used by those wishing to follow specific career paths who are looking for the basics to get them started.

Credit Hours

An associate degree in science is a college degree that requires a minimum of 60 to 90 credit hours, depending on school requirements. Courses are usually taken on an "upscale" basis, which means that a higher grade course (such as algebra II) can not be taken until the lower grade (algebra I) has been passed. Repeating courses (taking the same class more than once) does not count toward the total required for graduation.

Class Requirements

Associate degrees in science have a basic class requirement for general credits, including English composition, U.S. history, art appreciation and mathematics (including algebra, calculus and statistics). Some colleges might include an additional history course covering local history, while others put more emphasis on other communication classes, such as public speaking or introduction to philosophy.

Science Requirement

Because an associate degree is meant to provide graduates with a basic foundation on which to continue their studies, the science covered is general. Specific coursework will likely be divided into two groups: sciences and social sciences. The science division classes will cover subjects such as chemistry and lab, biology, concepts of physics and astronomy. Social pciences will cover Psychology, sociology, social problems, economics, cultural anthropology, government and politics, and world geography.


Many associate degrees in science offer elective courses that allow the student to have a specialization. The three major specializations for a sciences degree are natural sciences, mathematics and technology. Depending on the one chosen, electives can range from trigonometry to electrical and electronic engineering, to business administration. Some schools offer specialized degrees in certain fields, such as environmental science, biomedical and health, and sports or veterinary medicine.


Associate degrees have some advantages over other degrees. They typically cost less, and are easier to complete and more flexible. Many students who plan on completing a bachelor degree start in a 2-year program, then transfer into a bachelor program to complete the remaining credits. An associate degree in sciences can be advantageous for those wishing to pursue studies or a career in the sciences, medical or technology fields, as well as those with an interest in service-related technologies and processing industries.

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