Math anxiety begins as early as elementary school with some students and may continue into college years, causing some people to search for programs without math requirements. Some schools do require specific math classes for associate degrees while others allow for alternatives. The coursework varies depending on the institution and the degree chosen.


Transfer degrees, the Associate of Arts and Associate of Science, tend to require one or two math classes, particularly college algebra. Other math classes that satisfy the general education requirements for A.A. and A.S. degrees may include courses in calculus, equations, number theory, trigonometry and geometry. Some schools allow students aiming for an A.A. degree to take Math for Liberal Arts, which focuses the critical and analytical thinking skills taught in math courses toward the activities people involved in social studies and humanities are more likely to use.


Some schools allow associate degree-seeking students to replace some or all of the traditional math classes with others. General statistics, for instance, is commonly accepted. For other institutions, courses in economics, statistics related to the major such as psychology or logic may substitute for math. If you possess good math skills, you may be able to take a test to demonstrate your ability and skip the math requirement. A high enough ACT or SAT result on the mathematics portion may also exempt students from math classes at some schools.


The type of associates degree also affects the math requirement at many institutions. While the A.A. and A.S. degrees are transfer degrees, the associate of applied sciences is meant to be a terminal degree and so may have fewer math requirements and more options. For instance, students may choose from among various math courses or elect to take a science class such as biology, physics, chemistry, geology or environmental studies in lieu of the math.


Since most bachelor degree programs require college-level math, associate degrees meant for transfer also typically insist students take such courses. Even for terminal associate degrees, however, the degree awards students who have obtained a broad base of knowledge and skills including the critical thinking, problem-solving and basic mathematics covered in math courses. Therefore, institutions offering substitutions for math generally allow students to replace math only by demonstrating these abilities in other contexts.