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Overview of an Associate's Degree in Health & Wellness

If you want to help people live their best lives by helping them with their health issues and concerns, a career in health and wellness is a great option for you. Careers in this field are varied, so you could choose any number of avenues and create a career that suits you. Whether you want to help people improve their eating habits or assist them with exercise and mobility issues, an online or traditional health and wellness education will open plenty of doors for you to help people in the way you want to. This may be through health education or certification, community health education, public health policy and services, a professional wellness program for business staff, or employment in working to develop safety training content and policy creation for professionals, among other career options that are available based on your education and experience.

An online or on-campus associate health and wellness program provides the most basic level of health education available, though it can prepare students for a career in health sciences. An Associate of Applied Science in Health and Wellness or Health Science is a two-year degree, with which students can attain an entry-level position in healthcare and wellness fields, including health services. In some cases, students may find opportunities to attain leadership positions or even become an assistant director in some facilities. The two-year degree will give you an overview of general education that will make a good foundation if you choose to pursue a higher degree later. However, a college or university will also offer students an adequate education to get started in a career in health and wellness regardless of the path they choose after completing their program.


  • Because an associate degree only takes two years, whether it is an Associate of Science or an Associate of Applied Science program - online or traditional, you will complete your total education courses faster than those pursuing bachelor’s degrees in health science.
  • You’ll also spend less on education, whether you pay out of pocket or need to take out student loans, which you may even be able to skip. Students who take online programs save even more by avoiding college driving and living costs.
  • You’ll get to start working in your career faster than those who are pursuing higher degrees.
  • You’ll earn more than those working in the field, or even on the same team as you, who have no education or only certificates. Through general education courses and courses designed specifically for this field, this degree program will provide you with general education, additional education in your field, and it will also prepare students and make them more attractive to potential employers. And, they can choose to earn a higher degree online while they work and pay off their education costs.


  • With an associate degree, you won’t have the earning potential that someone with a more advanced degree such as a bachelor's degree could command.
  • Any degree requires a good deal of time and monetary commitment, whether you attend online or on campus. For some, pursuing a degree while working and taking care of other responsibilities is a challenge.
  • An associate degree may still not prepare students to pursue management positions.

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Top 5 Best Online Associate in Health and Wellness Programs

  • Undergraduate Tuition
    • In-State: $24,326
    • Out-of-State: $24,326
  • Net Price: $22,824
  • Acceptance Rate: 100%
  • Retention Rate: 62%
  • Graduation Rate: 43%
  • Total Enrollment: 6,046
  • Undergrad Students: 5,675
  • Graduate Students: 371
  • Grads Salary: $42,100
  • Student-to-faculty: 20:1
  • Columbia College-Columbia,MO
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Harrisburg Area Community College

Score: 75.12

  • Undergraduate Tuition
    • In-State: $8,918
    • Out-of-State: $11,400
  • Net Price: $9,991
  • Acceptance Rate: 100%
  • Retention Rate: 53%
  • Graduation Rate: 16%
  • Total Enrollment: 12,576
  • Undergrad Students: 12,576
  • Graduate Students: N/A
  • Grads Salary: $42,100
  • Student-to-faculty: 13:1
  • Harrisburg Area Community College

Life University

Score: 68.45

  • Undergraduate Tuition
    • In-State: $15,036
    • Out-of-State: $15,036
  • Net Price: $28,226
  • Acceptance Rate: 98%
  • Retention Rate: 70%
  • Graduation Rate: 31%
  • Total Enrollment: 2,753
  • Undergrad Students: 915
  • Graduate Students: 1,838
  • Grads Salary: $35,600
  • Student-to-faculty: 13:1
  • Life University

Coastline College

Score: 68.06

  • Undergraduate Tuition
    • In-State: $1,180
    • Out-of-State: $9,964
  • Net Price: $11,886
  • Acceptance Rate: 100%
  • Retention Rate: 55%
  • Graduation Rate: 23%
  • Total Enrollment: 8,077
  • Undergrad Students: 8,077
  • Graduate Students: N/A
  • Grads Salary: $37,800
  • Student-to-faculty: 30:1
  • Coastline College

Carrington College-Phoenix North

Score: 67.42

  • Undergraduate Tuition
    • In-State: $15,711
    • Out-of-State: $15,711
  • Net Price: $26,788
  • Acceptance Rate: 100%
  • Retention Rate: 67%
  • Graduation Rate: 53%
  • Total Enrollment: 1,048
  • Undergrad Students: 1,048
  • Graduate Students: N/A
  • Grads Salary: $32,400
  • Student-to-faculty: 27:1
  • Carrington College-Phoenix North

Certificate Vs. Associates

Some fields in health and wellness do offer certificates, but they aren’t going to garner much credibility unless they are used to enhance or complement a degree in the field. For example, a person working as a health coach might get a certificate in nutrition. For those who want to work in the health and wellness field, an actual degree in the desired field is a more prudent approach, especially when you consider that a two-year degree is not much more of a time commitment than a certificate. Certificates take between six months and 18 months, whereas an associate degree takes 24 months.

What Health & Wellness Associates Degrees are Available?

There are four types of two-year degrees. Each type has its own designation and end result.

  • An Associate of Science (AS) degree is based heavily on math and science. It can stand as a terminal degree, but usually it is used as a stepping stone to a bachelor’s of science degree.
  • An Associate in Applied Science (AAS) degree is based on practical application. This degree is achieved by students who want to immediately start working in their chosen field. Students who continue their education can seek either a bachelor of science of a bachelor of arts, depending on the field of study.
  • An Associate of Arts (AA) degree has a heavy influence on humanities and social service classes. Students who continue their education often receive bachelor of arts degrees.
  • The Associate of Applied Business (AAB) is a business degree can either be very general or very narrow. This degree is good for workers who either need a general business education or want to specialize in a particular aspect of a business. Like the AAS, AAB holders can continue and receive either a bachelor’s in science or arts degree, though it’s possible that fewer of the credits from this degree will transfer to a bachelor’s program if you choose a narrow course of study.

Admission Requirements

As with most associate degree programs, the following requirements must be met to gain entry into a school or program.

  • A high school diploma or GED is required.
  • Following the specific instructions for the school in which a student is applying is required. In most cases, an application for admission is needed as well as transcripts from any other schools that have been attended previously.
  • Taking the ACT or SAT and achieving a minimum score could also be a requirement.

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How long does it take to earn a Health & Wellness Associates?

An associates health and wellness degree usually take two years that consist of four semesters or eight quarters. In most cases, courses have to be taken in a specific order and some classes are only offered during certain semesters. Because of this, students should pay close attention to their course load and requirements, so they don’t accidentally fall behind. Some students finish in less than two years by taking heavier course loads or attending classes during the summer. Other students need longer than two years due to work and family obligations. However, if a student has no other responsibilities past getting an education, completing a two-year program in four semesters or eight quarters is doable.

Potential Careers in Health & Wellness with an Associates

Health and Wellness is a very broad umbrella that covers careers in medicine, business, and human resources to name a few. Here are a few potential careers that those with associate degrees can pursue.

  • Healthcare Administration
    Most administrators have a bachelor’s degree, but with an associate you can get in on the ground level as an assistant. You’ll work directly under the administrator and complete tasks that help the administrator do their job.
    Average Salary $39,000
  • Medical Records Administrator
    As a medical records administrator, you’ll be in charge of making sure the medical records for patients are current as well as correctly and securely stored. You could work in hospitals, doctor’s offices, clinics, insurance companies, or anywhere else patient information is stored. Knowledge of HIPAA and other forms of confidentially are required.
    Average Salary $45,000
  • Health Informatics Specialist
    Basically, this is information technology for healthcare. To work in this field, education in information technology as well as medical records and research is required. As a health informatics specialist, you will build databases to store and properly source medical information as well as ensure that the information is as secure as possible. Knowledge of cybersecurity is a plus since healthcare databases are increasingly becoming targets of internet hackers.
    Average Salary $41,000
  • Medical Laboratory Technician
    As a med lab tech, you are trained to handle specimens, run diagnostic tests, and the proper manner in which to secure and/or destroy specimens. Because these specimens are often used to help diagnose and treat patients, strict attention to detail and procedure is a must. Med lab techs work in hospitals, clinics, and doctor’s offices, as well as other businesses that use diagnostic testing.
    Average Salary $40,500
  • Nursing
    Becoming a nurse can lead to a variety of different careers other than being a nurse in a hospital or doctor’s office. Many health administration positions prefer candidates with nursing degrees. However, even in a traditional sense nurses can help educate patients on a variety of topics and work as counselors, advisors, and in other areas of health and wellness.
    Average Salary $63,800

Options to Advance

Health and wellness careers are catered more toward four-year degrees, so there are very few two-year degrees for health and wellness because the job field just isn’t that robust. For those who want to work in health and wellness, getting a bachelor’s degree is the more prudent approach. In order to advance further, or enter into management positions such as a health services manager, a bachelor’s degree or higher will be required for most health and wellness careers.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What are the four pillars of health and wellness?

Some suggest that there are four major focuses of health and wellness that are required for everyone to maintain a healthy lifestyle. These include exercise, good nutrition, relaxation, and sleep. This is the difference between a degree in health and wellness and, say, nutrition. Health and wellness look beyond just what people eat and focus on their wholistic health factors. If someone is stressed, that might help explain why they aren’t eating well. If someone hasn’t been getting enough sleep, that might either explain why they are so stressed or be caused by that stress. When you work in health and wellness, you aim to consider the whole person and their whole lives rather than just one dimension of their behavior.

What kinds of tasks or responsibilities might you have in a health and wellness role?

There are a growing number of health and wellness focused roles in the US. These might be run by a company, hospital, community health provider, and more. However, sometimes it’s hard to know just what your responsibilities might be once you graduate and gain one of these roles. Here are just some possibilities. You might run one-on-one assessments for workers or community members to help them figure out why they are having health or wellness issues. You might run training programs to teach people about how to maintain work/life balance, build healthy eating habits, create mindfulness in their lives, sleep better, find ways to relax even with a busy schedule, and more. You can also help clients form goals for health and wellness that fit within their abilities and budget. All of these things could be your responsibility no matter what type of organization you find yourself working for. The continuing increase in health and wellness roles indicates that this is more than a fad.

What type of courses will I take for a health and wellness program?

A health and wellness degree program focuses on the fact that there are two crucial components of a healthy life. Knowing how to properly take care of one's body and mind is essential for maintaining overall health, energy levels, and physical fitness. For those looking to learn more about health and wellness, taking courses on the subject is an excellent way to gain valuable knowledge.

A health and wellness program typically includes general education courses as well as courses that focus on topics such as exercise science, nutrition management, stress management techniques, lifestyle and wellness coaching techniques, and anatomy. Through a combination of lectures, seminars, practical activities such as yoga or meditation classes, students will gain an understanding of the importance of leading a healthy lifestyle. In addition to these topics related directly to health and wellness, many programs also offer additional courses in areas such as psychology or natural medicine.

What are some concentrations of a health and wellness degree?

Are you interested in pursuing a degree that focuses on health and wellness? With the rise of preventative care, health promotion, and fitness awareness, more and more universities are offering degrees related to health and wellness. This type of degree is ideal for those who want to make a positive impact on the well-being of others through community health services and many more avenues. This degree can open doors to many different career paths including nutritionist, physical therapist, personal trainer, health coach, or even a physician's assistant. All these occupations require graduates to have an understanding of the body's systems as well as the ability to keep up with current research in their fields. Those who pursue this type of degree will learn the ways current health educators use to promote healthy lifestyles through diet modifications, exercise plans, stress relief techniques, and much more.

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