4 Unique associate degrees to explore


Community colleges are known best for their associate degrees in business and liberal art studies. However, students are not limited to just those degree options. Several two-year colleges offer associate degrees that break away from customary programs, but can place students on paths to rewarding careers.

Consider these four unconventional associate degrees

  1. Mechatronics. With countless shipyards present in the Hampton Roads community, mechatronics is considered one of the top in-demand fields in the region. It combines electricity, electronics, robotics, mechanics and process control. Students in the program learn how to operate, maintain and repair “smart” devices and systems. Instead of being taught in a classroom, students are working in industry-vetted laboratories and gaining real-world experience. Graduates of the program are prepared for work as electromechanical and mechatronics technicians. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, electromechanical technicians can earn up to $82,700 annually.
  2. Funeral Services. While most do not dream of being a funeral home manager, those who are considering the profession can benefit from earning an associate degree. The program teaches students social skills, embalming practices and business management. This degree can also lead to other career opportunities with medical examiners’ officers, mortuaries, tissue banks and eye banks.
  3. Interior Design. Have a knack for organization and decoration? Interior design may be the career for you. Good news is there are other alternatives to costly, private interior design schools. Several community colleges, like Tidewater Community College, offer an associate degree in the field for a fraction of the cost. By completing the two-year degree, you gain skills in visual presentation, space planning, color theory and selection, material selection, estimating and construction documentation. Graduates typically find work as residential, commercial or hospitality designers.
  4. Horticulture. A perfect fit for nature lovers and environmentalists, a degree in horticulture can take you down many different paths. Students in the program receive hands-on training in state-of-the-art greenhouses, learning a mix of science, technology and business skills. Courses range from principles of horticulture, to greenhouse crop production to chemicals in horticulture. With this degree, graduates are ready to enter into businesses such as landscape design and greenhouse production and management.

Interested in learning more about these out-of-the-box associate degrees? Visit TCC’s website for further information.

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