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. This article gives an overview of 2-year college programs and what they offer.

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Overview of 2-Year College Programs

Entry into a 2-year college program generally requires a high school diploma or GED. 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. Most 2-year associate's degree programs require about 60 credits of coursework.

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 below.

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 the following:

  • 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 (A.S.) 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 A.S. program:

  • Mathematics
  • Physics
  • Computer science
  • Biology
  • Chemistry

Associate of Arts

An Associate of Arts (A.A.) 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 the fields listed below:

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