The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that employment in the healthcare field will grow by 18% between 2016 and 2026, making it one of today's fastest-growing areas. Over that period, about 2.4 million jobs will be added to this field, including many technician and support positions, which can be filled by individuals who earn a health science associate degree online. Matriculating now can help you enter this field quickly and take advantage of this period of rapid growth. The sooner you begin your studies, the sooner you can find employment and increase your earning potential.
What are the best health science programs of 2020? Here are our top 10:
|1||Casper College||Goodman, MS|
|2||Northwest Technical College||Casper, WY|
|3||Northland Community and Technical College||Bemidji, MN|
|4||Parker University||Thief River Falls, MN|
|5||Riverland Community College||Dallas, TX|
|6||St. Petersburg College||Austin, MN|
|7||Excelsior College||Clearwater, FL|
|8||Los Angeles Pacific University||Albany, NY|
|9||Roane State Community College||San Dimas, CA|
|10||Century College||Harriman, TN|
What are the Best Online Associate in Health Science Programs?
|Goodman, MS||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 35%||
Wyoming's oldest junior college, Casper College matches accomplished faculty members with small class sizes to create a supportive, close-knit learning environment. This institutional philosophy extends to the school's associate of science in health science program, which prepares graduates for further study or entry-level positions in the healthcare industry.
The Casper College program includes only one required course, which provides a survey-style introduction to healthcare systems and services. Students enjoy wide latitude to design their own study path, choosing electives that match their personal and professional interests.
Casper College's academic advisors guide students to a customized course lineup that meets their career development objectives. The school also offers eight other specialized and career-focused health science programs, which many associate degree-holders go on to pursue.
Northwest Technical College
|Casper, WY||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 37%||
Northwest Technical College's associate of science in healthcare sciences program requires 60 credits, including a 12-credit concentration track. Learners select their concentration classes with the help of an academic advisor, and configure the program for entry in a specialized practice area or to study at the bachelor's level.
Required courses examine a critical set of essential health science topics, including anatomy and physiology, nutrition, and microbiology. Degree-seekers must also take a career-focused course that covers common job opportunities and the education and knowledge bases required for entry.
Electives explore more focused subject matter, with recommended classes teaching key skills like CPR and professional specialties, such as nursing assistantship and pharmacology. Upon graduation, matriculants have additional one-on-one sessions with advisors who guide them toward their next steps: job market entry, additional associate degrees, or enrollment in four-year health science programs.
Northland Community and Technical College
|Bemidji, MN||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 42%||
Minnesota's Northland Community College provides a valuable learning experience through its career-oriented programs, training future professionals to meet workforce needs. This Higher Learning Commission-accredited school features an online associate of science in health sciences (broad field), which prepares graduates for a rewarding career path.
The rigorous curriculum introduces essential health sciences concepts and offers numerous courses to learners interested in exploring specific careers. Taking a practical view of the healthcare employment landscape, the program also prepares learners to transition into four-year programs. Northland maintains advantageous articulation agreements with numerous schools in the Minnesota State University system, creating immediate transfer opportunities.
Graduates are qualified for a wide range of entry-level opportunities, including careers as nurses, social workers, health educators, exercise scientists, and institutional health advocates.
|Thief River Falls, MN||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 42%||
Parker University's associate of science in health sciences uses an interdisciplinary approach that allows students to explore many different topics and perspectives. The program's purpose-built design makes it ideal for learners who want to train for health-related careers but have not yet committed to a particular professional path.
The 60-credit curriculum includes required courses in a broad cross-section of the academic disciplines, including mathematics, natural sciences, and health and behavioral sciences. Students also complete 28 credits of health science specializations such as institutional management, public and community health, physical fitness, and statistical analysis.
Based in Dallas, Parker University holds regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. It has operated as a private nonprofit school since its founding in 1982.
Riverland Community College
|Dallas, TX||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 80%||
Riverland Community College celebrated its 80th anniversary in 2020 and is a member of the Minnesota State higher education system. Regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, the school features a well-regarded associate program in health sciences that blends online and face-to-face learning.
Comprehensive learning outcome objectives reflect the program's multidisciplinary perspective. Students begin with introductory courses in biochemistry, statistics, and healthcare ethics. Later semesters build on these foundational proficiencies through required courses, such as human physiology and anatomy, biology and microbiology, and nutrition.
The program requires some on-campus attendance. Students pay low tuition rates, and can also take advantage of a flexible and convenient monthly payment plan.
St. Petersburg College
|Austin, MN||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 42%||
Based in Florida, St. Petersburg College delivers an associate of science in health sciences program with a focus on healthcare management and institutional administration. The degree prepares learners for entry-level careers, or for transfer into the college's bachelor of applied science program in health services administration.
The program embeds a healthcare services certificate in its structure to give students added value and practical training. The certificate-based courses explore the basics of medical terminology, disease pathology, pharmacology, and healthcare organizations. Students also cover legal and governmental compliance issues, and build proficiency with commonly used software and information management systems.
Prospective students benefit from inclusive acceptance policies that do not impose any specific admissions requirements. Learners can complete all coursework at their convenience thanks to an entirely online, asynchronous delivery model.
|Clearwater, FL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 32%||
Founded in 1971 to meet the needs of distance learners, Excelsior College now specializes in online education. The institution holds regional accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education and was one of the first colleges in the U.S. northeast to embrace fully online learning models.
The associate of science in health sciences focuses on career training and bachelor's degree transfer opportunities. Upon program completion, graduates can pursue entry-level careers in medical billing management, community health services, health insurance administration, and medical office management. Some learners can also transfer into four-year degrees in health sciences and healthcare management at Excelsior or other accredited colleges.
Transfer students looking to earn advanced standing for experience or existing college credits enjoy strong benefits at Excelsior College. Incoming learners can earn up to 53 credits for their previous coursework, healthcare licenses, and healthcare certifications. Degree-seekers who take full advantage of this offer may be able to graduate in as little as a few months.
Los Angeles Pacific University
|Albany, NY||Graduation Rate: 32%||
The associate of science in health sciences program at Los Angeles Pacific University emphasizes technical, technological, communications, and decision-making skills. Designed for learners seeking affordable, accelerated educational paths to new career opportunities, the degree leads to entry-level jobs in health information management, medical assistantship, and dental hygiene, among other options.
Of the program's 60 required credit-hours, 26 focus on mandatory health sciences courses that build a comprehensive knowledge base in human growth and development, anatomy and physiology, microbiology, and statistics. Degree-seekers supplement these topics with classes in physical and biological sciences, quantitative reasoning, and liberal arts and humanities electives that broaden and enrich student perspectives.
Los Angeles Pacific University draws on a Christian worldview to deliver practical career-oriented educational programs that further ethical and spiritual values. Part of the Azusa Pacific University system, the institution holds regional accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.
Roane State Community College
|San Dimas, CA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 25%||
Tennessee's Roane State Community College features a unique program structure and a supportive learning environment. Students in the associate of applied sciences in health sciences degree path complete the majority of their work online, but participate in semesterly orientation sessions at the school's Oak Ridge campus.
Thanks to this hybrid structure, learners position themselves for strong academic success. Students can choose from two main degree structures: a certificate-oriented path that builds proficiencies in concentrated areas, and an experiential learning option. The certificate path includes 16-30 specialized credits of focused study, while the experiential path provides practical, hands-on learning opportunities.
Physical attendance requirements vary depending on which path the learner chooses. In either case, graduates are qualified for administrative and information management careers in healthcare. Alternately, alumni can proceed into four-year programs with advanced standing.
|Harriman, TN||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 28%||
Century College offers a hybrid health sciences broad field associate in science degree that combines internet-based asynchronous learning with on-campus attendance at the school in White Bear Lake, Minnesota. The learning path provides a complete general education in health sciences, and conforms to the Minnesota State system guidelines for transfer into four-year baccalaureate programs.
The 60-credit program comprises 29 required credits in natural sciences, logic and reasoning, and mathematics. Electives topics facilitate complementary learning in subject areas like occupational training, communications, critical thinking, and the liberal arts and humanities.
Thanks to its broad, generalized approach, graduates hold eligibility for further study in a long list of healthcare-related areas. Suggested bachelor's degree transfer paths include specialized career training opportunities in athletic coaching, cardiopulmonary rehabilitation, kinesiology, and therapeutic recreation. Alumni also qualify for pre-pharmacy, pre-physical therapy, and pre-med programs at accredited senior schools.
What Else can I Expect from an Online Associate in Health Science Program?
As you compare various online health science associate degree programs, you will likely notice many similarities. However, although each program's goal is to teach you the skills needed to succeed in this field, the specific coursework and learning outcomes vary depending on the school or program.
Curriculum for an Online Associate in Health Science
The exact list of classes offered by a given program differ somewhat, but most students who earn an online health science associate degree cover many of the same subjects. The list below describes a few of the common courses encountered by learners in this field.
- Medical Terminology: Individuals pursuing a health sciences career must become familiar with the terminology used by medical professionals. This course teaches students the basic jargon needed to proceed with studies in this field. The professional language covered in this course should come in handy in any type of medical-related job.
- General Psychology: An introduction to the principles of psychology teaches learners to work with patients more effectively by helping them understand how the stresses of medical issues and treatment affect patients and their loved ones. This allows workers to relieve some of the fear and/or apprehension of their charges.
- Human Anatomy and Physiology: Any medical professional needs to know about the human body and how it works. This introductory course typically covers a wide range of topics, including anatomical terminology, basic biochemistry, cells and tissues, and the organ systems of the human body.
How Long Does it Take to get an Online Associate in Health Science?
A number of factors affect the amount of time it takes to earn an associate degree in health science online. Most associate degrees consist of around 60 credits, although some specialties require students to complete additional credits. Many programs operate on a traditional fall/spring/summer schedule. These may use a cohort model, where students begin classes together at the beginning of a semester and complete their studies at the same pace as their peers. Other programs offer accelerated or asynchronous scheduling, which allows individuals to start courses more frequently and complete coursework at their convenience. Full-time students typically complete their program in about two years, or four semesters. Before you enroll, be sure to look at the type of schedule a program uses to make sure it fits with your needs.
Accreditation for Online Associate in Health Science Degrees
As you compare programs offering an associate degree in health science online, make sure to look at each school's accreditation information. Attending an accredited school is crucial when pursuing any degree. Accreditation proves that an institution or program has been reviewed by a recognized body of experts who verify that certain academic and admissions standards have been met. This gives students peace of mind that their education is legitimate and informs future employers that applicants have been adequately prepared for work.
Two types of accreditation exist: regional and national. Regional accreditation holds more prestige and is administered by a group of accrediting bodies that each oversee several states in a designated area of the U.S. Alternatively, national accreditation is typically reserved for religious schools or institutions that specialize in technical or vocational training.
Just as accreditation agencies oversee the quality standards of colleges and their programs, those agencies also receive oversight from the U.S. Department of Education (ED) and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). The CHEA is an organization with a membership of approximately 3,000 higher education institutions. It helps regulate the industry by reviewing and affirming the quality of education provided by schools seeking accreditation. The ED also reviews accreditation agencies to ensure they uphold acceptable standards. This quality assurance ensures that the federal financial aid received by students at these schools goes toward a legitimate education. You can find a list of all accredited schools on the websites of the ED or CHEA.
What Can I Do With an Associate in Health Science Degree?
Graduates who earn a health science associate degree online can pursue a variety of career paths. Some of these jobs involve working long hours in intense environments, while others have more regular schedules and a calmer atmosphere. You can also work directly with people seeking help or be more removed from patient care.
- Medical Laboratory Technician
Medical laboratory technicians usually work in a clinical environment, such as a hospital or doctor's office. Their responsibilities include helping collect bodily fluids and tissue samples from patients. They take these samples to the lab, perform analytical tests, and enter results into a patient's medical records.
Median Annual Salary: $50,930
Projected Growth Rate: 14%
- Physical Therapist Assistant
Physical therapist assistants typically work under the supervision of a physical therapist in their office or in a hospital or other clinical setting. These professionals work with recovering patients who have physical issues caused by injuries or illness. Assistants may perform duties that include helping and observing a patient as they perform prescribed exercises.
Median Annual Salary: $56,610
Projected Growth Rate: 31%
- Diagnostic Imaging Worker
Diagnostic imaging workers include medical sonographers, cardiovascular technologists and technicians, and vascular technologists. They work at testing facilities, doctor's offices, or hospitals, where they perform various types of tests including sonograms and electrocardiograms (EKGs). These procedures record images of a patient's body, creating a visual aid to help doctors with their diagnosis.
Median Annual Salary: $64,280
Projected Growth Rate: 17%
Many individuals who earn an associate degree in health science online opt to continue their education and earn a bachelor's degree. This may be prudent if you want to specialize in a given field or advance into management. If that is the case, pursuing a bachelor's degree may be the right path for you. Professionals who earn a bachelor's degree typically see their earning potential increase, and they may qualify for higher-level jobs with more responsibilities.
- Bachelor of science in health sciences: Many health science bachelor's programs help students who already hold a health sciences associate degree pursue a leadership track. This track readies individuals for a career in management and covers topics such as managerial strategies, administrative practices. Many programs also offer other areas of specialization.
- Bachelor of science in nursing: Professionals can become registered nurses without acquiring a bachelor's degree, but a four-year degree is helpful for advancing within the field of nursing. These degree holders also qualify for more jobs and earn a much higher salary. This degree also serves as a step towards securing a master's in nursing, which is often required to assume management positions.
- Bachelor of science in nutrition: According to the BLS, the demand for nutritionists and dieticians is expected to grow by 15% over the next decade. An associate degree in health sciences can be a stepping stone towards a bachelor's degree in nutrition. Individuals in these programs can specialize in areas such as dietetics, wellness, and food science.
Employment Outlook for Associate in Health Science Graduates
Associate in Health Science Salary
As in most fields, graduates with an online health science associate degree can expect their median salary to grow as they advance in their careers, often increasing by 20-25% over the course of a long career. These tend to be full-time positions that include benefits such as health insurance. Individual salaries for these positions vary based on a number of factors. The specific workplace, city and state where a job is located, and the amount of experience a worker has all influence their pay. Securing professional certifications can also increase the earning potential for certain positions.
|Job Title||Overall Median Salary||Median Salary for Entry-Level Employees (0-5 years)||Median Salary for Mid-Career Employees (5-10 years)||Median Salary for Late-Career Employees (20+ years)|
|Medical Laboratory Technician||$39,831||$38,314||$40,778||$45,867|
|Physical Therapist Assistant||$48,635||$45,219||$49,769||$55,828|
|Diagnostic Ultrasound Technologist||$58,966||$53,029||$61,017||$77,500|
Joining a professional organization in your chosen health sciences field can provide access to helpful career-building tools. These organizations usually have special features or benefits aimed at current students and recent graduates, in addition to seasoned professionals. Such benefits include career services and job boards to help individuals find work, as well as professional networking opportunities that include local meetings, annual conferences, and other educational programs where members can earn continuing education credits.
Financing Your Online Associate in Health Science Program
Most students take advantage of some type of financial aid to help pay for their degrees. Scholarships, loans, grants, and work-study programs may all be viable options. Because the demand for workers in the healthcare field is high, many scholarships are specifically aimed at health sciences students. The first step to understanding your full range of financial aid options is to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form, which determines your eligibility for federal grants.
Approximately two-thirds of today's college students rely on loans to fund their education, but there are plenty of overlooked financing options you can use to reduce your overall student debt.
Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a crucial first step for any student with financial needs. Our FAFSA guide features a step-by-step rundown on the process and answers to several frequently asked questions.
Financial aid for online learning is equivalent to what you'll find for campus-based learning, but that hasn't always been the case. Learn about the changes that have taken place, as well as the different funding opportunities available to online students.
Online college programs can be a flexible, affordable option for single parents who are interested in earning a degree and securing their family's financial future. We've compiled a list of scholarships, grants, and other financial aid options geared toward single moms and dads.
Millions of dollars in free money is available to U.S. military personnel, but much of it goes unused. Learn more about grants, scholarships, and other financial aid opportunities available to veterans, active-duty service members, and reservists.