Though an A.S. degree and A.A.S. degree may seem the same, they are different. Both higher education degrees educate students and present them with a degree that increases their job marketability. However, each is designed for a specific purpose and has a different mix of required classes.

A.S. Degree

An A.S. is an Associate in Science degree. It is a two-year year degree which typically has three components: general education required classes, major required classes and electives. The A.S. degree usually transfers into a bachelor's degree of the same major. Students often enroll in A.S. programs at community colleges with plans to transfer into bachelor's programs in four-year colleges or universities afterwards to save money. Tuition per credit hour at community colleges is significantly lower than tuition at four-year colleges. Community colleges, which are considered commuter schools, tend to have fewer fees than four-year colleges as well.

A.A.S. Degree

An A.A.S. is an Associate of Applied Science degree. This two-year degree is designed for students who plan to work in a specialized career right after graduation. Applied science degrees are typically in the engineering, computer technology or medical technology fields. The coursework is geared toward science and technology for specific professions. Radiology, biomedical, engineering and medical care are among the more popular A.A.S. degree majors.

Similarities

Both the A.S. and A.S.S. are two-year, 60-credit course degrees which require approximately 20 classes. Associate degree holders -- either A.S. or A.A.S. -- can earn twice as much as average high school graduates. Hence, education pays for itself. Associate degrees are generally offered at community colleges as well as colleges and universities.

Differences

The main difference between the A.S. degree and the A.A.S. degree is what students do with them after graduation. A.S. degree programs include general education and elective classes at the expense of the degree major. Thereby, A.S. degree graduates tend to use their degrees to further their education by enrolling in a bachelor's degree program afterward. A.A.S. degree programs focus on the major and do not require many unrelated classes. Therefore, A.A.S. graduates learn more about their major and usually enter the workforce after graduation.