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You’re an aspiring college student on a tight budget. You’d like to start your career in data analytics, but you’re wondering if an AAS or AS in Data Analytics is the right degree. This guide is built for you! Explore coursework and electives, as well as admissions requirements and tuition costs. Learn how to choose an online associate degree. Discover real-world advice on job opportunities and answers to common FAQ. Or jump ahead to our listings of associate degrees in data analytics.
What is an Associate’s Degree in Data Analytics?
An associate’s degree in data analytics or a closely related field is an affordable 2-year undergraduate program that covers foundational knowledge in the field of data analytics. It is typically used as a stepping stone to a bachelor’s degree in data analytics. Students learn how to:
- Process and analyze large amounts of data, including qualitative & quantitative data
- Deploy common analytics tools & technologies (e.g. Python, SQL, R, etc.)
- Examine data sets to find patterns, highlight issues & solve organizational challenges
- Present their findings in reports, presentations, and data visualizations
Data analysts love to answer questions: How can we reduce unnecessary Emergency Room (ER) visits? How can we make city facilities more sustainable? How can we stop hackers? How can we help homeowners monitor energy usage? If this sounds intriguing, read on!
How They Work: Associate’s in Data Analytics Overview
If you choose an associate’s degree in data analytics, you’ll be expected to complete ~60 credits of undergraduate coursework. Most associate degrees are made up of lower division credits (e.g. freshmen & sophomore courses), but you’ll occasionally find programs with a few upper division credits (e.g. junior & senior courses). The two most common degree titles are:
- Associate of Science (AS) in Data Analytics
- Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in Data Analytics
Use our listings to find programs in any state!
- Year 1: The first year of an AS or AAS will usually be a mix of General Education (GE) courses and introductory courses in statistics, computer science, and data analytics.
- Year 2: In your second year, you’ll be able to tackle more complicated data analytics courses and electives.
In a part-time program, your coursework might be stretched out over 3 years (e.g. 2-3 courses per semester).
Take a look at the curriculum links in our listings to get a feel for each program. A strong 2-year undergraduate degree in data analytics will cover the following:
- College-Level Math: Data analytics is built on Applied Statistics, so you will always see this subject included in the syllabus. Some associate programs will also cover areas like Calculus and Linear Algebra.
- Data Analytics Subjects: Look for course titles such as Data Management & Visualization, Database Foundations, Data Mining, Big Data Fundamentals, and the like. We also favor programs that include a course on Ethics, since this is a major issue in the field.
- Python for Data Science/Analytics: Almost every associate’s degree we examined contained a course in Python. It’s a key programming language for data analysts.
Associate degrees in data analytics are rare, and we’ve noticed that colleges & universities don’t have a standard curriculum. Some go heavier on math courses than others. Some favor a lot of computer science & IT subjects. Choose what suits you best.
Not sure what a course title or subject means? Use our glossary of common data analytics terms to find definitions.
Liberal Arts/General Education Requirements
While you’re studying math & data analytics, you will also be taking courses in liberal arts subjects such as English, sciences, and social sciences.
- Communications: Most associate’s degrees in data analytics will include a couple of courses in Communications and English Composition. These are important skill sets for data analysts.
- Related Subjects: But you could also be taking relevant courses in Psychology, Business, Economics, and the like. Data analysts often cross over into these realms with their work.
We encountered a few associate degree programs in data analytics with electives. In this scenario, you’re allowed to choose courses from the university catalog. For example, if you’re interested in using data analytics to tackle climate change problems, you might select electives in meteorology, earth science, and the environment.
You may be lucky enough to find an associate-level program that includes a capstone. A capstone is a real-world analytics project. In the final year, you’ll be challenged to use all of your analytical skill sets to come up with a data-focused solution to an organizational or business problem.
Schools sometimes partner up with local companies in order to find topics for these projects. The capstone usually ends with a presentation of your findings to your professors & fellow students.
Associate’s in Data Analytics: Admissions
Colleges & universities are happy to consider almost anyone for an associate’s degree in data analytics. They’ll expect you to have a high school diploma or GED, but SAT scores aren’t always required!
If you’re worried about your transcripts, talk to the program coordinator. Most programs are looking for candidates who have solid grades in high-school mathematics and are willing to learn new technical skills.
Associate’s in Data Analytics: Tuition Cost $
Calculating the Price
The price of an associate’s degree in data analytics will depend on your choice of school. A public community college with in-state rates is going to be much more affordable than a private university.
- Technical & Community Colleges: These kinds of colleges typically offer the cheapest tuition prices. However, they may not have the same name recognition or easy transfer policy as an associate’s degree from a larger university.
- Universities: Associate degrees will be more expensive at universities. However, you may want to consider this route if you’re planning to transfer your AS credits into a bachelor’s degree. The transfer process will be relatively simple and you’ll have a BS with a solid reputation.
Real-World Price Data
Check the up-to-date cost links in our listings to get a practical sense of costs. You’ll need to budget for the total tuition price, plus all relevant university & course fees. In general:
- Colleges: Tuition at technical & community colleges hovers around $10,000 for the entire associate’s degree in data analytics.
- Universities: Tuition at universities often ranges between $20,000-$30,000 for the entire program, but discounts may be available for certain groups (e.g. military & dependents).
Online Associate’s in Data Analytics Programs
Here’s the good news—the vast majority of associate degrees in data analytics are 100% online! Colleges and universities are anxious to help students who have work commitments and can’t attend in-person classes.
The trick is finding an online associate’s degree that pays off in the long run. Here are some key points to consider when you’re analyzing your choices:
- Regional Accreditation: Any college or university offering the AAS or AS degree should have regional accreditation. This is especially important if you’re thinking of transferring your credits into a BS program.
- Asynchronous vs. Synchronous: Asynchronous coursework can be done on your own time. Synchronous learning involves real-time online meetings and class discussions. Find out if you need to be logging into your program at specific times.
- Technical Resources: Data analytics is a hands-on technical subject. Does the program offer opportunities to work with popular analytics tools & technologies? How will you access them?
- Group Projects: Data analysts are team players—they work with technical & non-technical colleagues on a daily basis. How will you develop this skill in your online program? Can you collaborate virtually with fellow students on class projects?
- Career Support: You probably won’t get as much career support in an associate’s degree as you would in a bachelor’s degree, but you should get some! How does the school support online students who are hunting for jobs and employer connections?
- Transfer Options: Make sure that all of your online credits can be applied to a BS in Data Analytics or a closely related field. You don’t want any of your studies to go to waste.
Wondering if you can handle an online program? Ask to sit-in on a few classes. Talk to current students and recent alumni. Try an online Coursera class to see how you feel about virtual learning.
Career in Data Analytics: Is it Worth It?
What Can You Do with an Associate’s Degree in Data Analytics?
The job outlook for data analysts is very strong! Take a look at the employment section in our guide to a bachelor’s degree in data analytics to learn more about job growth and popular regions for employment.
But we’ll say it up-front—it may be challenging to find an entry-level job in data analytics with an associate’s degree.
- Baseline Requirements: The standard requirement in most data analyst job postings is a BS in Data Analytics or a closely related field.
- Employment Competition: If you enter the market with an associate’s degree, you’ll be competing against a lot of candidates with a bachelor’s degree.
This doesn’t mean that your degree is worthless. We’ve seen a number of listings where an “associate’s degree or bachelor’s degree is preferred.” It’s just going to require some planning.
How to Approach the Job Market
Plan your employment strategy early. If you can’t afford a bachelor’s degree at this point in your career, then consider associate degree programs that have strong ties to companies & businesses:
- Internships: You can volunteer to be an intern during the summers and line yourself up for an entry-level job with the same company after graduation.
- Education Promise: In conversations with potential employers, you can also commit to studying for a part-time bachelor’s degree while you work.
Be prepared to go head-to-head with undergraduates who have a bachelor’s degree. Before you start applying for positions:
- Make sure you’re ready to handle the same daily responsibilities that someone with a bachelor’s degree can manage.
- Earn professional certificates to fill in any analytics skill gaps.
Remember, too, that smaller companies in modest cities & towns are usually going to be more willing to consider applicants with an associate’s degree.
Entry-Level Job Titles
- Entry-Level Data Analyst
- Junior Data Analyst
- Case Analyst
- Project Analyst
- Data Technician
Data Analyst Salary Data
Use the salary section in our guide to a bachelor’s degree in data analytics to examine real-world salary figures for entry-level data analysts.
Associate’s in Data Analytics FAQ
Should I Choose an Associate’s Degree or a Bachelor’s Degree in Data Analytics?
In the long run, a bachelor’s degree in data analytics is going to be more powerful than an associate’s degree. It will put you in a strong position for most entry-level data analyst jobs and give you the option to pursue a master’s degree if your employer is willing to subsidize your education.
Just keep in mind that you don’t have to choose!
- You can save money by earning your associate degree credits at a local community or technical college and then transferring them into a BS program at a university.
- You can start with an associate degree in data analytics and then decide if you want to stay in analytics or switch to another field (e.g. computer science).
- You can study part-time and pay for your associate & bachelor’s degrees while you work.
Can I Apply Associate Degree Credits to a Bachelor’s in Data Analytics?
Yes, but we recommend you have a detailed conversation with the AS or AAS program coordinator make sure all of the credits in your associate’s degree will transfer into a BS program.
- As we mentioned, many community & technical colleges have longstanding transfer agreements with local universities. Just make sure that the university offers a relevant bachelor’s degree (e.g. data analytics, data science, computer science, etc.)!
- If you’re thinking of transferring your credits from a community college into a bachelor’s program at a big-name university, check with the university as well. Some prestigious schools may have limitations on transfers.
Can I Transfer Existing Credits into an Associate’s Degree in Data Analytics?
Yes. Schools are usually happy to grant you credit for previous college-level coursework, professional certificates, and/or IT certifications & credentials. For example, SNHU accepts up to 45 transfer credits toward your associate degree for previous college experience.
Make a list of all your achievements and talk to the AS or AAS program coordinator. They consider credit transfers on a case-by-case basis.
Do I Need to Know How to Code for Associate-Level Data Analytics Programs? If So, Which Languages?
No. You’ll go through any necessary coding training in the core coursework part of your degree. Undergraduate data analytics program should cover programming languages such as Python, R, and SQL—these are usually listed in job requirements for entry-level data analysts.
What Math Do I Need to Take for Associate-Level Data Analytics Programs?
Aspiring data analysts should have sturdy grades in high school mathematics. Once you enroll in an associate degree, you’re going to be taking Applied Statistics. Some undergraduate programs will also include courses in Calculus and Linear Algebra. Visit the curriculum links in our listings for more details.
Should I Consider Other Majors?
Maybe. If you’ve fallen in love with data and know which job you want after graduation, then go ahead and pursue an undergraduate degree in data analytics. You’ll receive a focused education.
But there are plenty of related majors out there, including Data Science, Business Analytics, Operations Research, and more. Some folks even end up combining data analytics with a field of business (e.g. Finance) or social sciences (e.g. Psychology).
If you’d like to read about other avenues, have a look at our guide to choosing an analytics major.