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 Online Associate in Health Science Programs?
|Albany, NY||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 45%||
Founded in 1971 in Albany, New York, the private Excelsior College specializes in distance learning programs with more than 30 associate, bachelor's, and master's degrees.
The associate of science in health sciences degree requires students to complete 60 credits in total. The program comprises 30 credits in health sciences and 30 credits in arts and sciences. Within health sciences, students can take classes in anatomy, physiology, and addictions in America. Learners must also take part in a three-credit capstone course to fulfill their general education credits. The program teaches students medical terminology, the basics of the healthcare system in the United States, and how to maintain safety and professionalism in the workplace.
The degree takes an average of two years to complete. Students graduate with an understanding of their roles as healthcare professionals and demonstrate a firm grasp of the communication and critical thinking skills needed to further their education or enter the workforce. Many graduates find entry-level jobs in medical billing management, health insurance member services, or human resources. The school accepts up to 50 associate degree credits, which students can apply toward bachelor's degrees in healthcare management.
To apply, interested students must submit an online application. Applicants do not need to submit SAT or ACT scores. The college accepts up to 30 transfer credits from accredited schools.
University of the Incarnate Word
|San Antonio, TX||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 53%||
UIW began in 1881, inspired by Judeo-Christian values. Today, the school maintains a curriculum that supports a Christian worldview. Students who want to break into the healthcare industry can enroll in its completely online associate of science in health sciences degree. The program allows students to tailor their education and earn specializations in general studies or administration for an additional 15-20 credits.
The general studies specialization is geared toward certified healthcare professionals or candidates with military experience, while the administration track prepares students to earn certifications as electronic health records specialists, billing and coding specialists, medical administrative assistants, or rhythm analysis technicians.
To earn a degree, a student must complete 60 credits, including 30 credits in health sciences, 18 core credits, 10 credits in health sciences, and additional elective credits. Courses run eight weeks, with six terms each year. Graduates can prepare for careers as benefits specialists, health information technicians, and medical assistants.
To apply, each candidate must submit an online application the week before the start of a term. Every applicant must show proof of a 2.5 GPA and possess three years of work experience. Most incoming students hold 15-20 transfer credits, or they have healthcare experience from the military. The school designed this program for applicants who graduated from high school five or more years from the date of applying. UIW requires students to complete at least 30 credits at the college, while military personnel must complete 15 credits.
St Petersburg College
|St. Petersburg, FL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 29%||
Founded in 1927, St Petersburg College has a main campus in St. Petersburg, Florida, and 13 additional locations throughout the state.
SPC offers 100 degrees and certificates. Many of the programs, such as the associate of science in health sciences degree, allow students to attend classes completely online. The health sciences degree includes a certification examination in Excel spreadsheets, and the program also sets students on track to earn a bachelor of applied science degree in health services administration.
The online health science associate degree requires students to complete 60 credits. The curriculum, made up of general education credits, major core courses, and support courses teaches students about pharmacology, medical terminology, and anatomy and physiology. Students also learn the basic administrative skills needed to land entry-level healthcare positions. Graduates work as medical secretaries, medical record administrators, medical laboratory technicians, and health science writers.
To graduate, students must earn at least a "C" grade in every class. Required general education classes include communications, humanities and fine arts, and mathematics. Major classes include health law concepts and practices, general pharmacology for health professionals, medical terminology, and evidence-based healthcare practice.
Classes run on an asynchronous schedule, which allows students to access coursework when it suits their schedules. Admission begins with each student filling out an online application, submitting an application fee, and submitting transcripts. Applicants without college credit may need to submit SAT or ACT scores.
Weber State University
|Ogden, UT||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 33%||
Founded in 1889, Weber State University offers more than 225 degrees and certificates, plus 14 graduate degrees. The main campus is located in Ogden, Utah, with seven more locations in the state.
Weber State University offers an associate of science in health sciences degree that allows students to tailor their education with six tracks or concentrations. Enrollees can select from concentrations in dental hygiene, medical laboratory sciences, nursing, radiologic sciences, or respiratory therapy.
General education courses, such as medical terminology, introduction to college writing, and integrated human anatomy and physiology can transfer toward a bachelor's degree. The college also offers entirely online bachelor's degrees, including programs in emergency healthcare services, radiologic sciences, and health services administration.
The skills students learn in the general education classes can also prepare them to find entry-level work in the medical or healthcare industries. Graduates who opt to enter the workforce immediately after graduation can find jobs as medical secretaries, medical social workers, criminal justice workers, and music therapists.
Students can take the majority of the coursework online or through the school's independent study program. To graduate, students must complete 60 credits with a minimum of a "C" grade. The college spreads its curriculum over four semesters or two years.
Enrollment is open throughout the entire year. To apply, each student must complete an online application, submit an application fee, and transcripts. The college does not require SAT or ACT scores, but they help to place students in appropriate math or English classes.
Gulf Coast State College
|Panama City, FL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 40%||
Established in 1957, Gulf Coast State College sits in Panama City, Florida. GCSC offers more than 150 certifications, associate degrees, and bachelor's degrees. Students can complete the associate of arts in liberal arts with a health science option completely online. The program lets students customize their degrees with concentrations in the psychology of health, medical information technology, healthcare ethics, healthcare administration, communication, allied health, and aging studies.
The program consists of 60 credits, and students must earn at least a "C" grade in every class to graduate. The general education credit requirements include classes in communication, humanities, mathematics, and natural sciences. Enrollees can complete 36 general education credits and 24 elective credits. Common prerequisites include financial accounting, economics, psychology, biological social lab, and general chemistry lab. The program sets students up to transfer to bachelor's programs at four-year colleges in Florida.
To enroll in classes at GCSC, each student must first complete an application, submit a nonrefundable fee, and send transcripts. The admissions office requires SAT or ACT scores, as well. Applicants who did not take the SAT or ACT must take the Florida college placement test. Students should meet with representatives from the center for advising and success to make sure their prerequisites are fulfilled. The program is open to recent high school graduates and students transferring from regionally accredited colleges.
Riverland Community College
|Austin, MN||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 42%||
The 1940-established Riverland Community College offers three locations in Minnesota.
Students can select from 30 online programs with completely online or hybrid programs featuring some on-campus work. The associate of science in health sciences broad field degree allows learners to attend completely online classes in an asynchronous format to fit their schedules.
To earn online associate degrees in allied health science, students must complete 60 credits in the program. It runs over four semesters, taking students an average of two years to graduate. The curriculum prepares students to earn bachelor's degrees after transferring to four-year colleges. The school maintains agreements with other colleges, including Bemidji State University, Metropolitan State University, Minnesota State University, Mankato, Minnesota State University Moorhead, St. Cloud State University, Southwest Minnesota State University, and Winona State University.
Students must take 12 credits in general education and 48 credits in core coursework. Core classes include anatomy and physiology, general psychology, human nutrition, and general, organic, and biochemistry. General education classes give students the fundamental communication and research skills needed to find work after graduation or go on to pursue bachelor's degrees.
The Riverland Community College Foundation offers more than 160 scholarships. To apply to the program, each student must complete an online application. Candidates can determine if online classes will work for them by taking the college's academic and computer surveys.
|Merced, CA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 25%||
Founded in 1962, Merced College offers 82 associate degrees and 50 certificate programs. The college, located in Merced, California, also offers 279 classes online. Merced features an associate in arts in health sciences degree with a majority of its classes available online, never requiring students to step foot on campus. This program aims to prepare students for an allied health program. With an online health science associate degree from Merced, graduates receive automatic admission as juniors into the California State University system.
Students must complete 60 credits. Enrollees must also receive no less than a “C” grade in every class to receive their diplomas. Merced also requires students to complete at least 12 units at the school.
Learners can complete the sequence of courses over four semesters. The program requires students to complete 19 credits in the core program coursework, which includes general biology, introduction to chemistry, nutrition, human anatomy, principles of physiology, and microbiology. All associate programs also require students to complete 23-27 credits for the breadth requirements. Upon finishing their course work, students can demonstrate the critical thinking and research skills that healthcare employers require for entry-level positions. Graduates can also communicate the complexities of health and disease.
The admission process consists of several steps. First, each interested candidate must complete an online application, fill out a placement questionnaire, and complete an in-person or online orientation before meeting with a counselor.
Azusa Pacific University
|Azusa, CA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 67%||
Azusa Pacific University, an evangelical Christian institution, began in 1899. Today, the college offers 8 locations in Southern California with online classes. Azusa Pacific University features more than 200 certificates, credentials, and degrees. Its associate of science in health sciences degree runs completely online in an asynchronous format. The program is available at Los Angeles Pacific University, which operates under the same system as APU.
Students must complete 60 credits to earn their online health science associate degrees, before earning bachelor's degrees or beginning careers in healthcare. Graduates can enter the workforce in medical assistance, health information, dental hygiene, and gerontology. The program consists of 37 general studies credits and 23 health sciences and elective credits.
Health sciences classes include microbiology, human growth and development, anatomy and physiology, philosophy, and applied statistics. Coursework maintains a Christian worldview, and the associate degree requirements include two mandatory biblical literature courses.
Graduates leave this program with a firm understanding of ethical and diversity issues in healthcare. They also can demonstrate solid written and communication skills, which employers and bachelor’s degree programs require. APU offers two start dates every semester, including in the summer. An interested student who possesses a high school diploma with a minimum 2.0 GPA or a GED must submit an online application for consideration.
University of Wisconsin Colleges
|Madison, WI||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 23%||
UW Colleges Online began in 1998 and now offers more than 125 courses. Students can take classes completely online to earn associate of arts and sciences degrees with a health sciences emphasis. The associate degree serves as a starting point for students who want to transfer and earn four-year degrees, particularly within the University of Wisconsin school system.
An enrollee pursuing an associate of arts or science degree can customize their education by selecting an emphasis of study. To earn a concentration, students must declare their emphasis no later than the beginning of their final semester. Students can choose from 13 concentrations, including anthropology, engineering, geosciences, and sustainability.
To earn an online health science associate degree, students must complete 60 credits with 36 credits earned at UW Colleges. The health sciences emphasis requires students to complete an additional 15-20 credits. Students take classes in biology, anatomy, physiology, chemistry, statistics, microbiology, and psychology.
UW Colleges Online features rolling admission, which allows prospective students to apply at any time in the year.
Pennsylvania Institute of Technology
|Media, PA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 40%||
Dating back more than 60 years, the private Pennsylvania Institute of Technology began as a school for engineers. Today P.I.T., located in Rose Valley in Media, Pennsylvania, offers 13 associate degrees and four certificate programs.
The associate of science in health science degree sets students on a path to earn four-year degrees or enter specialized programs for nursing or physical therapy. P.I.T. maintains transfer agreements with nearby four-year colleges, which makes transferring simple for graduates of the program.
Students can complete the degree in as few as 18 months over seven terms. The program runs online, but students can also opt for a hybrid format with day and evening classes. To graduate, students must complete 65 credits. The curriculum requires students to take a majority of math and sciences classes. During the program, students study anatomy and physiology, general biology, and healthcare in transcultural environments.
Graduates can find employment in diagnostic services, therapeutic services, support services, health informatics, and biotechnology research. The curriculum also includes classes like basic Office software applications, plus communication and social interaction, which prepare enrollees for administrative positions in healthcare. Online students can access the same services as on-campus students, such as free tutoring.
Each applicant must submit an online application. The school offers an open enrollment, which allows students to apply at any time. Every candidate must also provide their high school transcripts or GED, take a placement assessment, and meet with an admissions specialist.
Bergen Community College
|Paramus, NJ||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 22%||
The 1965-founded Bergen Community College offers three locations in New Jersey, with the main campus in Paramus and additional campuses in Lyndhurst and Hackensack. The college offers 142 degrees and certificates.
The online health science associate degree prepares students to enter bachelor's programs or find work as wellness center administrators, hospital administrators, or community health educators. Enrollees need to hold certification from a hospital-sponsored program. The college gives students 30 transfer credits for the certification.
To earn a degree, students must complete a total of 65 credits. The required courses for the program includes two courses in the dynamics of health and fitness, a humanities elective, a social science elective, and a mathematics and computer science elective. In general, associate degrees at Bergen Community College do not put students on track to earn bachelor's degrees; however, certain programs may offer transfer agreements with nearby colleges and universities.
By the end of the program, students can demonstrate a solid understanding of third-party payments, socialized and nonsocialized medical practices, and patient-related law.
Each applicant must submit transcripts showing a 2.5 GPA. The admissions department accepts applications on a rolling basis, so interested candidates can apply throughout the year. New students must attend online orientation and take placement exams or submit their SAT scores. Classes begin in the fall and spring semesters.
|White Bear Lake, MN||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 18%||
The two-year technical and community institution Century College opened its doors in 1967 with 503 students. Today, the college, set in White Bear Lake, Minnesota, serves more than 21,000 students every year. Enrollees can choose from more than 140 degrees and certificates. The associate in science in health sciences broad field degree requires students to complete 60 credits and offers a combination of online, daytime, and evening classes. The college designed this program to teach students basic health sciences knowledge for transferring to four-year colleges.
Many students go on to earn bachelor's degrees in allied healthcare management, dental hygiene, health education, health science, kinesiology, nursing, and community health. The college also maintains transfer agreements with four-year colleges in Minnesota, which make it easier for students to enter bachelor's programs. Those colleges include St. Mary's University of Minnesota, Capella University, and Metropolitan State University.
The program does not require any prerequisite courses, and the curriculum runs over four semesters. In their first semester, students may take classes such as statistics, composition, principles of biology, and introduction to sociology. By the third and fourth semesters, students typically have fulfilled their general education requirements and take program coursework such as human anatomy and physiology, nutrition, microbiology, and biomedical ethics.
A first-time student must submit high school transcripts or GED scores, along with their online application and fee. After receiving acceptance, students must submit ACT or SAT scores or take the ACCUPLACER test. Every student must also attend orientation.
Saint Paul College
|St Paul, MN||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 28%||
The 1910-established Saint Paul College operates under the mission to help students realize their career and educational goals. The school maintains more than 500 relationships with business and industry leaders to help students find employment after graduation. Saint Paul College also maintains transfer agreements with four-year colleges, which benefits students who want to later pursue bachelor's degrees.
Saint Paul College offers more than 74 degrees and certificates. The college designed its associate of science in health sciences broad field degree for students who want to eventually earn bachelor's degrees. Students can earn this degree in an online, hybrid, or on-campus format.
The program requires students to complete 60 credits. In addition to the general education courses like composition, algebra, and sociology, students must also complete program-specific requirements. Enrollees can gain a broad education in health sciences through classes such as general biology, nutrition, anatomy and physiology, chemistry, communication, statistics, and healthcare ethics.
The college offers transfer opportunities to help students enter the healthcare administration program at Concordia University, the health services management program at the University of Minnesota, and the nursing program at Metropolitan State University. After graduation, students can also secure careers in community health, social work, nursing, dental hygiene, exercise science, or food and nutrition.
Each interested applicant must submit a free online application. After the college processes the application, candidates need to take an ACCUPLACER test to determine their math and English courses. Applicants with adequate SAT or ACT scores may skip the testing.
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.