The Benefits of an Associate in Specialized Technology (AST) Degree – ASPIRA City College

You’ve been dreaming of a brighter future, imagining all the things you could do with higher wages, more job security, and a career that you can truly enjoy. If you are a high school graduate or have a GED, earning an associate degree can open the door to a recession-proof career or give you the edge you need to advance in your current field.

As much as post-secondary education is a proven path to a better future, we know that for many, putting the time, effort, and money into earning a college degree can be easier said than done. This is especially true for adults who have been out of high school for years or who have work and family commitments to consider.

A common concern for students is time. While bachelor’s degree programs are supposed to take full-time students four years to complete, most students finish them in six years. The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) reports that 60% of bachelor’s degree students who began their studies in 2011 graduated in 2017.

Similarly, although most academic associate degree programs are to be completed in two years or less, the majority of students take much longer to earn the degree – if they earn it at all. NCES shows that only 13% of community college students on track for an academic associate degree graduate in two years. So, if earning at least an associate degree is a proven way to get ahead, and time constraints are pressing, then an Associate in Specialized Technology (AST) degree in a high-demand field can be the right way to go.

At ASPIRA City College in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, we know first-hand just how much of an impact an AST degree can have on student’s lives. That’s why our Web Design and Computer Support Specialist programs, which award students with this type of degree, are designed with a host of degree benefits to help you succeed – no matter what’s currently on your plate. We take a closer look at them here.

Advantages of Earning an Associate in Specialized Technology (AST) Degree

Prospective students often ask about the difference between an academic Associate and an Associate in Specialized Technology (AST) Degree. Academic Associate Degree (i.e., AAS, AS, and AA) programs are available in community colleges and state universities. To earn one, you must meet the liberal arts and elective course requirements, the prerequisites for your major, plus meet the credit requirements for the major itself.

The academic associate route is the way to go if you:

  • Want a liberal arts education.
  • Need an AA, AS, or AAS degree because it’s required for employment in your field.
  • Have the ability and means to complete the required coursework.
  • Plan to transfer into a bachelor’s degree program.

In contrast, AST degree programs are available to you at nationally accredited technical or career schools and colleges, like ASPIRA City College. The crucial difference between an academic associate and an AST Degree is that the latter is an occupational or vocational degree. That means AST degree programs focus on preparing students for specific careers, with course content and design aimed exclusively at providing you with the knowledge and skills necessary to become employment-ready. There are no liberal arts or elective requirements in AST degree programs, and you start career-specific classes on your very first day

The Associate in Specialized Technology (AST) Degree route is the way to go if you:

  • Have a clear career interest and want a career-specific education with no liberal arts or elective credit requirements to graduate.
  • Opt for shortening the timeline for getting into the career-specific workforce.
  • Want a time- and cost-effective pathway to earning your degree.
  • Favor a practical approach to learning with a less academically rigorous curriculum.
  • Would like to begin career-focused classes from day one.
  • Welcome gaining work experience from college-arranged supervised externships.

Less Time, More Flexibility

Typically, Associate in Specialized Technology (AST) Degrees take less than two years to complete, making them much more attractive for students who need to earn their degree in the least amount of time possible. Time constraints are especially true for those with children to care for, a part- or full-time job, or other responsibilities. AST degree programs also serve recent high school graduates who need to get to work and start earning money quickly.

That’s why ASPIRA City College makes it possible for anyone to attend college by offering convenient class scheduling options. Those who’d like to keep their evenings free can opt for our Traditional Day or Fast-Path Day schedules, while students who need summers off to care for school-aged kids can enjoy the Traditional Day schedule. Or, those with daytime commitments can take advantage of our Evening schedule to make progress towards a new, rewarding career. These schedules break down as follows:

Traditional Day

  • This schedule is available for Web Design and Computer Support Specialist students.
  • Classes are held from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Monday through Friday.
  • Semesters run during the fall and spring.
  • Students can enjoy a two-week break between each semester and summer vacation.

Fast-Path Day

  • Classes are held from Monday through Friday, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
  • Our Web Design and Computer Support Specialist programs span 15 months (64 weeks over four semesters), including three weeks of semester breaks.


  • Classes are held from Monday through Thursday, from 6:00 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.
  • Web Design and Computer Support Specialist students can complete their program in 30 months (128 weeks over eight semesters), including seven weeks of semester breaks.

Greater Job Security

In today’s job market, more and more positions call for applicants with an associate degree or higher. Employers often judge these applicants as better able to apply themselves and acclimate to the workplace. In other words, earning a degree is a positive way to make a strong first impression. If you are already employed, completing an associate degree can improve your chances for a promotion or even receiving a raise.

Moreover, the higher the level of education, the lower the likelihood of unemployment, and with it, the financial and emotional toll it takes. After graduating from ASPIRA City College’s Web Design or Computer Support Specialist programs, you may work in any one of many IT positions, including:

  • Web Development Professional
  • SEO Specialist
  • Graphic Designer
  • UX Researcher Or Designer
  • Technical Support Specialist
  • Marketing Support Specialist

Our dependence on technology will not slow down any time soon. By earning an AST degree from ASPIRA City College, you are ready to take your place in this dynamic industry where the demand for skilled men and women continues to grow.

A Respected Education

Established in 1974, ASPIRA City College offers Associate in Specialized Technology Degrees in Web Design and Computer Support for students who are passionate about technology. Located in North Philadelphia, ASPIRA is accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC) and licensed by the Pennsylvania State Board of Private Licensed Schools.

Learn More About Our Programs

To learn more about how you benefit from earning your Associate in Specialized Technology Degree in Web Design or Computer Support from ASPIRA City College, request more information or schedule a virtual visit today.