Manufacturing Associate Degree Details

Our associate degree program is designed to help you learn key skills and knowledge so you can excel in various roles related to manufacturing. The program curriculum includes courses on drafting with AutoCAD®, manufacturing materials and processes, quality control systems, engineering technology, and more!

Program Goal and Outcomes

Program Goal

To prepare students for the opportunity to seek employment or advance their careers in the manufacturing and production industries, specifically related to positions that require college level training.

Upon completion of the program, students will be able to...
  • Identify various roles in manufacturing, conventional steps of the manufacturing process, and the similarities or differences of manufacturing techniques
  • Demonstrate effective written and interpersonal communication skills
  • Demonstrate effective quantitative skills
  • Demonstrate proficient computer and information literacy skills
  • Read and interpret various types of technical drawings, including those used in engineering applications, to understand the basics of computer-aided design (CAD)
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the liberal arts, natural sciences, and social sciences
  • Describe total quality management (TQM), materials and inventory management, inspection plans, measuring tools that collect quality data, and various statistical process control methods
  • List the steps and materials used in the tool design process, including the design of work holding devices, jigs, presses, dies, and gages
  • Recognize important safety facts and practices associated with electrical, chemical, fire, material-handling, and machine hazards
  • Discover the symbols to describe a product and ASME codes and standards used in manufacturing
  • Discover CNC systems and machines, operating and programming machining, turning centers, and alternate machining technology
  • Identify manufacturing systems and processes, and recognize different materials used in manufacturing and engineering applications
  • Define the basics of lean manufacturing and the key lean and continuous improvement (CI) fundamental principles in conjunction with continuous-improvement methods and tools
  • Discover other technologies and topics in manufacturing and manufacturing processes
  • Discover valuable workplace skills and confidence building in striving for a successful, advancement-focused career

Semester 1

Basic Skills Assessment

All degree applicants are required to complete two Basic Skills Assessments, one in reading and one in math, to determine the level of readiness for beginning their selected program. Additional studies may be required.

This course will guide you through the "who, what, when, how, and why" behind the manufacturing industry, laying a valuable foundation for the rest of your studies. You'll also get a brief introduction to different manufacturing methods than you'll study more in-depth as your learning progresses.


  • Identify relevant components and roles in manufacturing
  • Identify the steps of the manufacturing process and manufacturing documents
  • Compare different manufacturing techniques
This course provides an overview of writing styles for technology applications. Students will review basic grammar, including parts of speech, active and passive voices, sentence structure, and paragraph construction. The course also includes practical information on writing memos and emails and organizing material.


  • Describe the process of writing, as well as the parts of speech and how to use them
  • Explain various types of punctuation, rules for capitalization and spelling, and documenting sources for research
  • Construct complete, correct sentences and well-organized, coherent paragraphs
  • Recognize how to plan, develop, revise, and present your work
  • Prepare for the various kinds of writing most likely needed for a job
This course provides students with an overview of visual communication skills necessary to successfully complete the wide range of courses in technology programs that require learning to read and interpret technical drawings. Students learn print reading, interpretation of symbols and abbreviations, dimensioning, tolerancing, and the application of these skills to actual print reading. The course also contains an overview of computer-aided drawing and its role in modern technology.


  • Describe perspective drawing, projection drawing, and features of mechanical parts
  • Differentiate between the various concepts of dimensioning and tolerancing
  • Point out the various symbols and abbreviations used in technical drawings
  • Categorize the purposes of CAD technology and the different elements in it
  • Distinguish between the different sketching methods and their importance
  • Analyze the geometries and print-reading applications involved in various drawings and prints
  • Categorize the various types, layouts, specifications, and codes in construction drawings

Textbook: Blueprint Reading: Construction Drawings for Building Trades

This course provides students with an overview of essential math skills necessary for future success in an AS technology program. The course of study includes a review of basic math functions, including trades-based examples, the metric system, formulas, introductory algebra, applied geometry, and some practical applications of trigonometry.


  • Define basic math skills to solve real-world skilled trades related problems
  • Illustrate your ability to effectively use the metric system
  • Identify your knowledge of formulas to solve problems
  • Identify algebraic concepts to solve problems
  • Solve perimeter, area, and volume for a variety of geometrical shapes
  • Define basic trigonometry functions such as sine and cosine to perform trades related calculations
This course provides students with an overview of principles that define and govern the physical universe as we know it; chemistry; physics, earth and space sciences.


  • Explain mechanics and properties of matter
  • Describe heat and its effects on matter
  • Analyze sound
  • Apply the principles of chemistry
  • Describe light
  • Determine what scientific principles apply to electricity and electronics
This course introduces students to PC applications in word processing, spreadsheets, and presentation software, as well as create documents, spreadsheets, and presentations. Students will also discover how to integrate the applications.


  • Identify how to create various Microsoft Word documents=
  • Write a sound Microsoft Word 2016 letter
  • Identify how to create various Microsoft Excel documents
  • Produce a thorough Microsoft Excel 2016 spreadsheet
  • Identify the basic skills needed to use Microsoft PowerPoint
  • Create a well-constructed memo, spreadsheet, and presentation
Proctored Examination

You will be required to complete a proctored exam on selected courses each semester. These assessments will evaluate the knowledge and skills that you learned during the semester. You choose the time, the location, and the qualified exam supervisor.

Semester 2

This course is designed to help industrial workers to know why safety is so important as well as to alert them of probable hazards and dangers associated with their workplaces. In this course, you'll be familiarized with accident prevention techniques, fire safety methods, and the use of personal protective equipment.


  • Analyze the structure of workplace safety and the methods to curb them
  • Point out the types of chemical hazards, their safety measures and prevention processes
  • Distinguish between the various catastrophes caused by fire and the methods used for stopping them
  • Categorize the safety measures and equipment associated with welding and cutting systems
  • Report the various safety measures involved in working with electricity
  • Show the various safety measures required in the handling of materials
  • Point out the various hazards associated with machines and the importance of control equipment
  • Categorize the importance of using quality electrical equipment and its related safety measures
This course covers Computer-aided drafting and design systems; AutoCAD® menus and features; file and entity creation; drawing organization; displaying, modifying, and annotating drawings; data exchange and output methods.


  • Identify the procedures of creating simple line drawings through the fundamentals of drawing window
  • Prepare drawing layers in AutoCAD
  • Classify the procedures of creating drawing template through various commands in the AutoCAD
  • Show the methods of creating and modifying plot layouts and scale viewpoints through commands
  • Categorize how to create tables, text, and fields through various commands
  • Summarize the procedures of polylines in drawing complex shapes and objects
  • Point out the methods of creating groups and blocks in AutoCAD
  • Categorize the functions of AutoCAD DesignCenter in context to attributes, blocks, and tool palettes
  • Prepare a 3D wireframe box model
  • Show how the polysolid, pyramid, torus, and cone shapes are drawn in AutoCAD
  • Create a drawing using various AutoCAD tools and settings

Textbook: Discovering AutoCAD 2017

This course covers a comprehensive collection of manufacturing and materials processing techniques. Students learn the historical perspectives and basic science of manufacturing and its related materials, specific manufacturing methods as they are applied to specific materials, and the theory of the automation of today’s manufacturing environment, productivity and quality improvement systems.


  • Explain the basics of the manufacturing process
  • Distinguish between the types of manufacturing materials and their properties
  • Summarize the various manufacturing processes
  • Show the importance of management systems and the utilization of modern techniques in the manufacturing process
  • Distinguish between the various types of nontraditional machining technologies
  • Categorize the different types of metal cutting tools
This course introduces students to basic algebraic concepts; review the systems of equations, polynomials, and radicals. Students will also discover how to factor polynomial expressions and simplify rational expressions.


  • Explain basic algebraic concepts
  • Solve and graph linear equations and inequalities
  • Analyze relations, functionality, and systems of linear equations
  • Prepare algebraic operations on polynomial and rational expressions and equations
  • Solve problems involving radicals and complex numbers

Textbook: Intermediate Algebra

This course provides an introduction to the various methods of organizing material for a professional setting. Students will compose business documents using the ABC method. These include: memos, emails, outlines, reports and proposals, descriptions, and organizing materials. Students also work on honing their grammar skills.


  • Recognize how to use words correctly and effectively
  • Produce a well-constructed interoffice memo, workplace email, and business letter
  • Produce a brief business report based on findings obtained using research techniques and methods of documentation
  • Produce an informal report that lists findings of an investigation and provides recommendation for issues raised in the findings
  • Describe procedures for creating proposals, descriptions, instructions, and manuals for the workplace
  • Create a detailed proposal designed to solve an internal human resource issue
Proctored Examination

You will be required to complete a proctored exam on selected courses each semester. These assessments will evaluate the knowledge and skills that you learned during the semester. You choose the time, the location, and the qualified exam supervisor.

Semester 3

In this course, you'll learn the standard rules and practices used to generate detailed parts drawings and assemblies, and how to apply AutoCAD software to the actual execution of the drawing process. You’ll also learn to visualize objects in the views that are required for orthographic projections, rules for correct dimensioning and tolerancing, and where to locate dimensional information for standard machine elements.


  • Point out the basics of AutoCAD and the methods used to create orthographic projections
  • Analyze the requirements needed to use AutoCAD for implementing sectioning and dimensioning drawings
  • Distinguish between the methods used to create advanced drawing techniques, tolerancing, and threads
  • Analyze the procedures and features required to create assembly and pictorial drawings
  • Create a set of drawings using AutoCAD for the mentioned scenarios to show your skills

Textbook: Engineering Graphics Essentials with AutoCAD 2020 Instruction

This course will introduce you to the computer numerical control (CNC) technology and programming. Throughout your studies, you'll learn about the basic history and purpose of CNC machines. When you complete the course, you'll have a working knowledge of basic word address programming, CAD/CAM, and machining and turning centers.


  • Describe the evolution of CNC systems and the application of the mathematical concepts of geometry and trigonometry to the operation and programming of CNC systems
  • Discuss basic word address programming and the impact of CAD/CAM on the CNC programming landscape
  • Describe the operating and programming of machining centers
  • Describe the operation and programming of turning machines
  • Demonstrate knowledge of alternate machining technologies of Electrical Discharge Machining and Laser;
  • Oxyfuel, Plasma and Waterjet; Wood, Stone and Plastics cutting technologies
  • Discuss how to use conversational programming to produce a part program that controls a machine tool
  • Identify how statistical process control is used to ensure that production processes are efficient, repeatable, and consistent
  • Prepare a presentation meant to introduce apprentice-level employees of select CNC concepts
This course covers establishing quality systems; interpreting conventional and GD&T system drawings; setting up and using inspection tools and equipment; developing part acceptance procedures; statistical process control (SPC) fundamentals and practical applications.


  • Analyze the methods used by technicians to manage, maintain, and inspect total quality
  • Categorize the elements of engineering drawings and the methods involved in them
  • Point out the basic measuring tools used in the industry
  • Categorize the basic measuring methods used in the industry
  • Differentiate between the ways in which the various advanced methods and tools help the industry
  • Point out the ways in which a sampling plan benefits an industry
  • Analyze the ways in which technicians use SPC to control the output of a process

Textbook: The Quality Technician's Handbook

In this course, you’ll learn the definition of a need for a tool, analysis of that need, collection of data for the design, preliminary design, final design, toolmaking, application, and testing.


  • Analyze the structure of the tool designing process and the elements involved in it
  • Identify the factors ruling the selection of workholding devices in the process of designing
  • Categorize the steps needed in designing fixtures and jigs
  • Distinguish between the pressworking tools and the various processes where they are used in their design
  • Explain the principles of bending, forming, drawing, and forging in the designing of dies
  • Identify the various principles involved in the designing of gages
  • Categorize the methods of tool design

Textbook: Fundamentals of Tool Design

Choose one ...

SSC130 Essentials of Psychology

This course will introduce you to the relationship between biology and behavior. You will learn about human development throughout the life span.


  • Identify major psychological theories.
  • Discuss consciousness, memory, thought, and language.
  • Define intelligence, personality, and stress.
  • Analyze the role of gender in psychology.
  • Explain how community influences behavior.

Textbook: Psychology and Your Life

SSC105 World Civilizations

This course serves as an introduction to many of the major events of the fifteenth through twenty-first centuries and examines the causal relationships between events and trends.


  • Summarize the various causes and consequences of global trade and its conflicting worldwide impact
  • Report the impact of social and industrial revolutions, fifteenth century onward, on various nations
  • Analyze the conditions that led to the World Wars, decolonization, and the Cold War
  • Analyze post–World War II effects on the economic and political structures around the world
  • Summarize an event that occurred after the fifteenth century and had an impact on a world civilization
  • Demonstrate a knowledge and understanding of World War II and its effects on the world population

Textbook: A History of World Societies, Volume 2

SSC125 Introduction to Sociology

This course is designed to introduce you to social structure and social interaction through groups, networks, and organizations. Study politics, the economy, population, social movements, technology, and social change.


  • Describe deviance, crime, and social control.
  • Discuss the effects of stratification, racial and ethnic inequality, sex, gender, and sexuality.
  • Examine the role of health, family, education, and religion in human behavior.

Textbook: Experience Sociology

Proctored Examination

You will be required to complete a proctored exam on selected courses each semester. These assessments will evaluate the knowledge and skills that you learned during the semester. You choose the time, the location, and the qualified exam supervisor.

Semester 4

This course focuses on the use of the geometric dimensioning and tolerancing (GDT) system in the design and manufacture of detailed parts and assemblies. You’ll learn how to use and interpret GDT drawing symbols, and how to adjust manufacturing and inspection processes to meet the requirements of GDT specifications.


  • Interpret necessary geometric tolerances and conditions used to minimize deviation and maintain accuracy in the part's features.
  • Examine the appropriate form and orientation tolerances based on part and assembly interaction from drawings or models
  • Analyze the relationship of datums and material condition symbols to how a part is manufactured, inspected, and assembled
  • Discover the proper use of dimensions and tolerances, units of measurement, rules, and symbols in drawing a manufactured part

Textbook: Geometric Dimensioning and Tolerancing

This course will introduce you to key lean components of lean manufacturing. You’ll learn about the history of lean and continuous improvement, as well as the principles, methods, and tools used in lean manufacturing.


  • Define the basics of lean manufacturing
  • Describe a history of lean and continuous improvement (CI) based upon the Toyota Production System
  • Define the key lean and continuous improvement (CI) fundamental principles and philosophies and why it's critical to get everyone aligned
  • Identify continuous-improvement methods and tools and when to use them
Choose two ...

IET232 Programmable Logic Controllers

This course covers the hexadecimal and binary number systems. You’ll also examine the role of computers in telecommunications systems; programmable controllers found in motor-control and other industrial systems.


  • Distinguish the various hardware components, systems, and codes used in PLCs
  • Analyze the basic functions of programming and wiring diagrams in PLCs
  • Point out the fundamentals of programming timers and counters in PLCs
  • Analyze the functioning of programming control instructions and data manipulation in PLCs
  • Categorize the various functioning of arithmetic operations, sequencer, and shift register instructions in PLCs
  • Analyze the installation process and troubleshooting of PLC as well as the control process systems

Textbook: Programmable Logic Controllers


EST200 Fluid Power (Hydraulics and Pneumatics)

This course will provide a comprehensive overview of hydraulics and pneumatics, including the basic scientific principles and concepts necessary for understanding the operation and applications of hydraulic and pneumatic components and systems. Students learn power system controls, system schematics, and essential troubleshooting practices.


  • Point out the various constituents and the operations associated with hydraulic power systems
  • Categorize the various types of actuators, pumps, and hydraulic motors
  • Report the various utilizations of conductors, conditioners, and fluids in hydraulic systems
  • Analyze the various types of pressure control valves, flow control valves, and directional control valves
  • Point out the usage of symbols and graphics in the different components of hydraulic systems
  • Categorize the functionalities of fluid power instruments and the maintenance of hydraulic systems
  • Show the properties of different types of compressors and auxiliary equipment
  • Categorize the compressor system according to its installation process, design fundamentals, operation, and troubleshooting
  • Analyze the concept of fluid power and fluid flow as well as the pneumatic components
  • Point out the requirements, installations, troubleshooting, and safety procedures of the pneumatic systems
  • Report the various pneumatic control systems as well as the components of system integration


MET248 Industrial Plastics

This course provides you with a solid foundation in the chemistry, properties, testing, designing, processing, fabricating, tooling, and manufacturing of various types of plastics.


  • Discover the 19th century and present day plastics industry including the development of polymers
  • Describe the importance of basic statistics and testing on the plastics industry
  • Examine the major influences of ingredients and different plastics on machining and finishing
  • Discuss the processes for molding and extrusion with plastics
  • Discuss laminating, reinforcing and casting processes in plastics
  • Discuss thermoforming, expansion and coating processes in plastics
  • Discuss fabrication, decoration, and radiation processes in plastics
  • Examine the considerations in designing plastics products

Textbook: Industrial Plastics: Theory and Applications


IET237 Materials Management and Inventory Control

This course will provide an overview of Production scheduling, planning, and MRP; capacity management (CRP); production activity control; demand forecasting; inventory processes; warehousing and materials handling; just-in-time planning; product-quality control; total-quality management (TQM).


  • Analyze the stages of production scheduling with emphasis on material management, production, MPS, and MRP
  • Recognize the importance of CRP and PAC in relation to MRP
  • Categorize the uses and applications of an inventory management system
  • Show the functions of advanced processes in inventory with importance to distribution, production, and JIT
  • Analyze the importance of quality management and product control in determining the success of businesses

Textbook: Introduction to Materials Management

Choose one ...

HUM102 Art Appreciation

In this course, you will gain an understanding of artistic media, historical periods and artistic movements, the roles of the artist and the viewer, and the principles of art criticism.


  • Define the language, visual elements, and principles of design of art
  • Identify two-dimensional media
  • Identify three-dimensional media
  • Explain the evolution of art from ancient Mediterranean cultures through eighteenth century Europe
  • Identify features and popular examples of art throughout the history of African, Asian, Pacific, and American cultures
  • Compare the genres of the Modern and Postmodern eras of art from around the world

Textbook: Living with Art, 11th Edition


HUM104 Music Appreciation

In this course, you'll understand how to appreciate music by learning about the roles of the composer and the listener, the principles of music theory and instrumentation, musically significant historical periods, and varying styles of music.


  • Identify the building blocks of music a composer can use to create a piece, such as rhythm, melody, harmony, texture, form, and timbre
  • Explain the evolution of Western music through history, from the Middle Ages to the twenty-first century
  • Differentiate between the music of the baroque era and the musical styles of previous time periods
  • Recognize the major characteristics of classical music, including form, melody, and instrumentation
  • Discuss the musical trends and innovations that occurred during the romantic era
  • Trace the evolution of American popular music in the twentieth century
  • Recognize the influence of world music on modern Western composition

Textbook: Experience Music, Fourth Edition


ENG115 - Introduction to Literature 

This course will allow you to develop your critical thinking skills and broaden your knowledge of the main genres of literature — fiction, poetry, and drama.


  • Explain how to effectively read fiction for both knowledge and enjoyment.
  • Identify different styles and forms of poetry.
  • Use what you've learned in this course to discuss, write about, and understand literature.
  • Prepare a critical interpretation of fiction or poetry based on what you've learned in this course.
  • Discuss how literary dramas differ from fiction and poetry.
  • Identify different strategies of critical literary analysis.
This course covers the personal qualities that employers look for in their employees, such as integrity and dependability. You'll also examine the interpersonal skills needed to ensure positive interactions with diverse populations through various channels of communication and gain strategies for overcoming communication barriers. In addition, this course will provide you with an understanding of critical workplace skills such as time management, prioritization, the decision-making process, the problem-solving process, open-mindedness, and interacting with customers in a professional manner.


  • Explain how integrity and dependability lead to respect and how to be productive in a work environment
  • Identify the elements of professionalism within a work environment and how to manage changes
  • Explain how positive and negative reactions to diversity can impact a workplace and the importance of respect
  • Describe the importance of communication, best practices for clarity, and strategies for overcoming language barriers
  • Explain team members' roles, teamwork skills, leadership, and conflict resolution strategies
  • Describe effective time-management, organization, and goal-setting strategies
  • Explain the decision-making process, strategies for good decision making, and the escalation of problems
  • Describe customer service and the skills needed to provide customers with a positive experience
  • Describe the safe use of workplace tools and technology and how to adapt to changes
Proctored Examination

You will be required to complete a proctored exam on selected courses each semester. These assessments will evaluate the knowledge and skills that you learned during the semester. You choose the time, the location, and the qualified exam supervisor.

Additional Details

Associate Degrees from Penn Foster College are awarded under licensing from the Arizona State Board for Private Postsecondary Education.

Penn Foster College Accreditation & Licensing Details

Penn Foster College has been nationally accredited for over 40 years, and has met the high standards of integrity and performance set by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC) in Washington, D.C. Penn Foster College has been thoroughly reviewed and has earned several important accreditations and licensing. We also participate in the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements.


New Interactive Skilled Trades Learning Aids

No matter your learning style, Penn Foster has designed our skilled trades programs to help you build hands-on skills that will help you grow as a professional. You can now benefit from Penn Foster updating 140 skilled trades lessons with new interactive learning aids, including whiteboard animations, engaging videos, and other visual media. These visual aids support Penn Foster’s Learn-Practice-Apply instruction model and will help you recall crucial knowledge and skills once your on the job.
Surround Sound Support

A Committed Support System

While you can study independently, you’re not alone! With a dedicated Student Services department, the Student Community, and instructors just a call away, you’ll have access to the support you need.

Progress Tracking and Goal Setting Tools

Our customizable goal-setting tools will help you create a schedule and stick to it. Need some extra time to complete a lesson? Not a problem — you can adjust your study plan at any time to set a pace that works for you.
Progress Tracking and Goal Setting Tools
Penn Foster Student Community

Student Community

Looking to connect with other Penn Foster students? Our Student Community is the perfect place for you to interact with your peers — as well as Penn Foster faculty and staff — to discuss your online learning experience, congratulate fellow students, and share your Penn Foster experience.

Sample Manufacturing A.S. Degree Lesson

Penn Foster courses are written in a way that is easy to understand, and materials are broken down into manageable lessons. Take a look at what a Manufacturing A.S. Degree course would look like.
Penn Foster Sample Lesson
Computer Specifications
As you know this is an online academic program. This means you will need access to high-speed internet to begin your program. In addition, you will need access to a Microsoft® Windows® based computer running Windows 10® or later or an Apple® Mac® computer running macOS® or later, Microsoft® Office 2019 or Microsoft 365®, and an email account to complete this program.
We reserve the right to change program content and materials when it becomes necessary.
Microsoft and Windows are trademarks of Microsoft Corporation registered in the United States of America and/or other jurisdictions.
Apple, Mac, and macOS are trademarks of Apple, Inc. registered in the United States of America and/or other jurisdictions.
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