What is an AOS Degree?

This post may contain affiliate links, meaning we get a commission if you make a purchase through our links, at no cost to you.

Spread the love


In the middle of the dynamic landscape of modern education, we often get lost between all the acronyms. One distinct one emerges: AOS. AOS is the Associate of Occupational Studies degree. It garners attention for its practicality and specialization.

However, what exactly is it? Is the AOS a real degree? This article will discuss everything you need to know about it. For example, we will delve into its origins, distinct qualities, and real-world impact. Regardless of whether you are a prospective student or simply curious, read on to learn more about AOS!

What is an AOS Degree?What is an AOS Degree?

What does AOS Degree mean? AOS stands for Associate of Occupational Studies. It is an academic credential emphasizing practical skills and specialized training for career paths. It differs immensely from other degrees.

So what makes it different from other ones? Unlike traditional associate degrees, which often provide a broader general education foundation, the AOS degree equips students with the hands-on skills and knowledge required to enter a particular profession or field immediately.

But where is AOS most popular? Well, it is prevalent in vocational and technical fields. For example, it includes healthcare, culinary arts, information technology, and graphic design. Hence, an AOS is typically available in places where employers highly value practical expertise.

What Can You Do With an AOS Degree?

What Can You Do With an AOS Degree?

What is an AOS degree? This degree equips you as a graduate with specialized skills and practical knowledge in a particular field. But what can an AOS degree give you? And what can you do with such a degree? Below is a closer look at the things you can do upon obtaining the AOS degree:

  • Immediate entry into specialized careers. Instead of beating around the bush, an AOS degree allows you to dive into the workforce. This degree is perfect for you if you’re confident about your career choice.
  • Industry-specific skills. The whole point of an AOS degree is to thoroughly prepare you for the career you want. Hence, you will become a valuable employer asset, as you possess the skills to effectively complete required tasks.
  • Practical training. AOS programs often include internships, apprenticeships, and real-world projects. This allows you to gain experience and deepen your understanding of the industry.
  • Faster time to completion. Compared to a four-year bachelor’s degree, AOS degrees often require 2 years of full-time work.
  • Niche industries. Again, an AOS degree allows you to specialize in a particular field. Hence, you become knowledgeable in your chosen field of study, a valuable skill.

Common Fields of Study and Career Paths

Common Fields of Study and Career Paths

So, what is an Occupational Associate Degree? It opens doors to a range of opportunities in specialized fields. Moreover, the degree itself focuses on practical skills and industry-specific training. Hence, you can expect smaller class sizes and more internships.

But as a graduate with an AOS degree, what can you do? Here are some examples of what an AOS degree can open for you:

  • Healthcare. You can specialize in medical assisting, nursing, or radiologic technology. These paths can allow you to become a medical assistant, practical nurse, or radiologic technologist.
  • Culinary arts. Focusing on culinary arts opens up the path to becoming a professional chef, pastry chef, kitchen manager, or restaurant owner.
  • Graphic design. As a graduate in graphic design with an AOS, you can work as a graphic designer, web designer, illustrator, or art director.
  • Information technology. You can choose a path in roles such as network administrator, web developer, or IT support specialist.
  • Fashion design. If you decide to take the fashion route, you can specialize in several roles. For example, you can become a pattern maker, fashion designer, or merchandiser.
  • Automotive technology. This path allows you to become an automotive technician, mechanic, or service manager.
  • Hospitality management. Some roles that become available to you include hotel management, event planning, and restaurant management.

Advantages of Pursuing AOS Degrees

Advantages of Pursuing AOS Degrees

Pursuing an AOS degree comes with numerous distinct advantages. Here are some of the critical benefits of choosing such a path:

  • Transition to further education. While an AOS degree does prepare you for employment, it can become a foundation for other instruction. Hence, you can use AOS degree transfer credits to pursue additional certifications or a higher-level degree.
  • Job satisfaction. AOS graduates become marketable as they possess valuable skills that average graduates lack. You will also experience a high job satisfaction rate because you can apply all of what you have learned directly to your career.
  • Skill diversification. You can even choose to change careers if it comes to that. An AOS degree prepares you with the necessary skills for a smooth transition.
  • Entrepreneurship. If you decide to open a business within your specialized industry, you are lucky! An AOS program empowers graduates to leverage their expertise to create unique offerings within the industry.
  • Cost-effective. You save time and money since you aren’t sitting through college for four years. This can help you avoid significant student debt and put the money into other investments.

AOS vs. Other Academic Degrees

AOS vs. Other Academic Degrees

In this section, we will compare four main types of academic degrees. That includes AOS, AAS, BS, and AA. AAS stands for Associate of Applied Science, while AA stands for Associate of Arts. BS is a Bachelor of Science. Below is a more comprehensive comparison of the three types of associate degrees.

Associate of Occupational Studies (AOS)

Here is a breakdown of the details regarding an AOS degree:

  • Focus: it is highly tailored and specialized, emphasizing practical skills and hands-on training
  • Curriculum: the courses you will take directly relate to your chosen profession
  • Duration: 2 years
  • Career readiness: you can immediately enter your chosen profession
  • Industry demand: it has recently become a highly sought-after degree.
  • Further education: you can choose to pursue other certifications or advanced degrees

Associate of Arts (AA)

Now, we will discuss details related to an Associate of Arts:

  • Focus: broader focus on liberal arts and general education subjects
  • Curriculum: a mixture of educational courses, humanities, social sciences, and electives
  • Duration: 2 years
  • Career readiness: provides a foundation that might require further specialization
  • Industry demand: graduates may need further internships and training for their desired professions
  • Further education: serves as a stepping stone to bachelor’s degrees

Associate of Applied Science (AAS)

What about an AAS? Here is everything you need to know:

  • Focus: career-oriented and technical training
  • Curriculum: includes both specialized courses and general education components
  • Duration: 2 years
  • Career readiness: prepares for immediate entry into the industry
  • Industry demand: hands-on technical skills are highly valued, especially in fields such as engineering technology and computer science
  • Further education: while it is designed for immediate employment, one can pursue further education

Bachelor of Science (BS)

Now, we will dive into the details regarding a Bachelor of Science:

  • Focus: focuses on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics
  • Curriculum: a mixture of many courses, especially STEM ones, and electives
  • Duration: typically four years
  • Career readiness: prepares graduates for roles in scientific and technical fields
  • Industry demand: it has always been in high demand
  • Further education: one can further pursue a degree in a Master’s program after

So, in summary, when comparing AOS vs. AAS, one can see that an AOS is more specialized and career-oriented. As for a bachelor’s degree, it prepares students for a more academic path.

How to Choose the Right AOS Degree?

How to Choose the Right AOS Degree?

Choosing the adequate AOS degree for you needs careful consideration. You simply need to ask yourself a few questions and follow the step-by-step guide below:

  • Identify your strengths and interests by asking yourself what skills you enjoy and excel in.
  • Explore industries that align with your interest by considering the growth potential, job opportunities, and demand.
  • What kind of role do you see yourself in? Does the industry offer chances for advancement?
  • What skills do you want to focus on? Which ones do you want to further develop?
  • Check out all the details regarding the AOS degree, including curriculum, practical training, and internship chances.
  • Consider choosing a field that has the potential to evolve over the years.
  • Connect with professionals who work in your desired industry, and conduct informational interviews to assess whether it is the path you choose.

Wrapping Things Up: What is an AOS Degree?

Regarding educational degrees, the AOS stands out as a fantastic opportunity for practicality and specialization. This article discussed its impact, advantages, and means of choosing the right AOS for you.

The AOS isn’t merely a degree. It works as a launchpad for specialized fields. In a gist, it lets you immediately dive into your desired industry, gain specific skills, and work on real-life examples. As you make your AOS choice, may it steer you toward success and fulfillment in your chosen path.

Did you enjoy this post? Check out our other helpful college guides and articles here.

> How to Find Internships for College Students?

> What is an Alternate Major?

> How Many Majors Can You Have?

Picture of Professor Conquer
Professor Conquer

Professor Conquer started Conquer Your Exam in 2018 to help students feel more confident and better prepared for their tough tests. Prof excelled in high school, graduating top of his class and receiving admissions into several Ivy League and top 15 schools. He has helped many students through the years tutoring and mentoring K-12, consulting seniors through the college admissions process, and writing extensive how-to guides for school.

If you found this helpful, help us out by sharing this post!


Readers of this post also read...

Is AP Chemistry Worth Taking?

Is AP Chemistry Worth Taking?

Perhaps you’re a high school junior or senior considering to take AP Chemistry and are weighing the merits of this challenging yet rewarding course. Known for its rigorous academic demands and significant time investment, AP...

Read More
How Old is Too Old to Go to College?

How Old is Too Old to Go to College?

One common misconception about college is that only students in their teens and early twenties attempt college. Unfortunately, this misconception has stopped many older people from enrolling in college to further their education. But the...

Read More