What is an Applied Science Degree?

A student who aspires to work in a highly technical, hands-on profession often pursues an applied science degree.

Colleges and universities offer applied science (AS) degrees at the associate, bachelor's, master's, and even doctoral levels. The curricula for AS degrees differ from those of other science degrees because they usually focus on the practical implementation of scientific techniques versus the acquisition of theoretical scientific principles.

Most AS degree programs prepare graduates to work in very specialized professions, and many of the applied science disciplines are in healthcare, engineering, technology or mathematics.

Here are examples of popular AS degree programs at each level of higher education.

Associate of Applied Science in Dental Hygiene

The Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in Dental Hygiene primarily prepares graduates to care for patients who come to dental offices to get their teeth cleaned and examined. The degree program includes the theory, methods, and standards that dental hygienists must understand to provide safe and effective dental care. Because of the above-average salaries that dental hygienists earn, AAS in Dental Hygiene programs are becoming more competitive. Satisfactory grades in subjects such as high school biology, chemistry, and mathematics are usually required of prospective students. Dental hygienists find work in a number of settings such as public health clinics, military medical facilities, academia and private dental offices. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary of dental hygienists in 2015 was $72,330.

Bachelor of Applied Science in Information Technology

Besides healthcare, technology is a popular discipline for those pursuing AAS degrees. People who earn these AAS degrees usually have high rates of employment into entry-level, technical positions upon graduation. After an AAS degree graduate gains sufficient experience, they usually need a higher-level degree to move into jobs with more responsibility and pay. The Bachelor of Applied Science (BAS) in Information Technology (IT) is the natural progression for someone who holds an AAS in IT. Depending on the chosen school, an AAS in IT graduate can transfer their college credits to a four-year university and complete their bachelor's degree in two years. Besides a wide array of computer courses, BAS in IT students can expect to take courses that relate to business management, organizational leadership, and communication.

Master of Applied Science in Food Science

Since research continues to prove a correlation between diet and health, an increasing number of Americans have become interested in the way the world's food is grown and processed as well as how certain foods impact the human body. Master of Applied Science (MAS) In Food Science degree programs allow students to learn about the global food industry and specific ways to help others to regain their health through nutrition. Graduates with this degree usually become licensed dietitians who work in public health clinics, research facilities, academia or private hospitals.

Doctor of Applied Science in Computer Science and Mathematics

A Doctor of Applied Science (DAS) degree usually has a different focus than its lower-level counterparts. DAS programs are pursued by students who need terminal degrees in applied science disciplines. DAS in Computer Science and Mathematics students usually aspire to teach computer science or math at top-tier universities; they are not usually trying to hone their skills to work in industry. While DAS in Computer Science and Mathematics program curricula normally include a number of research-based, experiential learning assignments, students also gain a heavy dose of advanced theoretical knowledge.

Conclusion

Students who take AS degree programs can expect to learn the foundational principles of their chosen disciplines as well as the industry standard methods for using those principles. Lab assignments and specialized projects are usually included in all applied science degree programs.

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