Top HVAC Associate Degree Programs

Connect With HVAC Schools

HVAC technicians are essential to the U.S. economy. From keeping residences comfortable in extreme weather to providing the technical knowledge required to refrigerate warehouses, keep food fresh, and even keep the air in hospitals clean and circulating, HVAC technicians excel in a number of different capacities, often working behind the scenes.

Often mechanically inclined problem-solvers by nature, HVAC technicians must train for the role via a lengthy apprenticeship (four years is the norm) or by enrolling in a formal HVAC education program. Although aspiring technicians may enroll in a four-year bachelor’s degree program, those are relatively uncommon and perhaps best suited to those interested in learning as much about the business side of an HVAC operation as about the more technical, applied side.

The two-year associate degree can be an attractive proposition for students who may not want to, or be able to, attend a four-year program, but who still want to complete a rigorous technically-oriented HVAC education. Earning an Associate of Applied Science degree is a great launching pad for an HVAC career because it shows dedication, and signifies a thorough basic technical knowledge of HVAC systems.

An HVAC associate degree, such as those offered by the schools on this list, includes instruction in more than just the fundamentals of HVAC systems. An AAS degree in HVAC requires courses in a range of topics, from communication to mathematics to liberal arts. This breadth of knowledge will be invaluable in a competitive job market.

Many HVAC students have no problem finding employment quickly in this profession, which is expected to grow 4 percent from 2019 to 2029 (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2020).

The schools on this list each offer an associate degree in HVAC technology or a more specialized degree such as refrigeration and have all been accredited by recognized accreditation organizations. Many even have the option of transferring earned credits to a four-year school upon graduation, for even more career and earning opportunities.

Bevill State Community College

Bevill State Community College offers an associate in applied science (AAS) degree program in air conditioning and refrigeration. Currently available at two campuses, the HVAC/R program at Bevill State Community College is designed to provide students with working knowledge of air conditioning and heating for both environmental and comfort considerations.

The associate in applied science degree program includes courses such as principles of refrigeration, HVAC/R service procedures, refrigeration piping practices, fundamentals of gas heating systems, principles of electricity for HVAC/R, heat load calculations, residential air conditioning, and commercial refrigeration, among others. Students must complete 67 to 68 credits to earn this degree. Notably, this AAS degree program has been approved by the Alabama Board of Heating, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration for the Alabama Contractor’s License Exam.

After completing the program, graduates learn about installing, maintaining, and repairing all types of HVAC/R systems and will be well prepared to take up positions such as appliance technician, HVAC service technician, duct installer, commercial refrigeration technician or service writer, HVAC installer, restaurant refrigeration technician, HVAC parts dealer, and HVAC dealer.

  • Location: Hamilton, AL; Sumiton, AL
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges; PAHRA
  • Expected Time to Completion: 24 months
  • Estimated Tuition: $133 per credit

Central New Mexico Community College

Central New Mexico Community College, located in Albuquerque, New Mexico, has multiple HVAC programs including an associate of applied science degree in HVAC/R. Before obtaining entrance to the AAS program, students must demonstrate proficiency in math, reading, and English. Students through the program are provided with the technical skills and knowledge for entry into this HVAC/R field in the areas of maintenance, service, installation, green building standards, and energy efficiency.

Upon the successful completion of five terms or 65 credits, students will be awarded an AAS degree and be ready to enter the workforce as an HVAC technician. Sample some of the courses in the curriculum: refrigerant fundamentals, basic electricity, refrigerant management, motors and controls, air conditioning and controls, heating and heating control systems, chilled water systems, refrigeration application, commercial refrigeration, and industrial refrigeration, to name a few.

Students through the program gain in-depth knowledge about the fundamentals of HVAC/R through practical lab work and also learn about wiring diagrams. Graduates of the program are employed by installation and local service contractors as well as local manufacturers, hospitals, and facilities.

  • Location: Albuquerque, NM
  • Accreditation: HVAC excellence; PAHRA
  • Expected Time to Completion: Five semesters
  • Estimated Tuition: NM Residents ($56 per credit); Non-NM residents ($296 per credit)

College of Lake County

College of Lake County, in Grayslake, Illinois, offers an associate of applied science degree in HVAC/R engineering technology. The degrees fall under the school’s Service Technologies academic division. The program prepares graduates to enter the workforce immediately with a specialized knowledge base that can only be learned by dedicating the appropriate time.

Consisting of 63 to 67 credits, the program includes courses such as basic refrigeration, HVAC/R electricity I and II, HVAC/R blueprint reading, EPA certification, HVAC/R load calculation, air conditioning split-systems, air movement and ventilation, and sheet metal fabrication, among others.

The program prepares students for installation and service positions with a specialization in the layout, design, service, and installation of residential HVAC equipment. Students acquire skills in HVAC principles, safety, soldering and brazing, refrigerant handling, mechanical and electrical troubleshooting, electrical test equipment, and the use of refrigerant gauges.

  • Location: Grayslake, IL
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission; PAHRA
  • Expected Time to Completion: Four semesters
  • Estimated Tuition: In-district ($125 per credit); out-of-district ($322 per credit) out-of-state and international ($436 per credit)

College of Southern Idaho

The College of Southern Idaho is located in Twin Falls and offers an air conditioning, heating, and refrigeration program of study. Graduates of the CSI program can earn an associate of applied science degree in 24 months. The program provides students with the knowledge and skills needed for working on HVAC/R systems.

The entire program consists of 60 credit-hours, seven of which may be elective courses. In keeping with the idea of technological advancement, a computer literacy component is also required. The curriculum includes courses such as fossil fuel furnaces, national electrical code, air conditioning, commercial refrigeration, ammonia refrigeration, and heat pumps, among others.

Upon completion, graduates can take up roles such as heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration installers and mechanics.

  • Location: Twin Falls, ID
  • Accreditation: Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities; HVAC Excellence
  • Expected Time to Completion: Four to five semesters
  • Estimated Tuition: In-district ($140 per credit); out-of-district ($190 per credit); out-of-state and foreign ($285 per credit)

Gadsden State Community College

This college offers three HVAC programs, one of which is an associate in applied science degree in air conditioning and refrigeration. To be accepted into the program, students will require a high school diploma or GED.

The program is made up of 76 credits (61 of which should be dedicated to technical coursework and a minimum of 15 to general education courses), including courses such as principles of refrigeration, refrigeration piping practices, HVAC/R service procedures, fundamentals of electric heating systems, fundamentals of gas heating systems, HVAC/R electric circuits, principles of electricity for HVAC/R, heat pump systems, HVAC/R electrical components, humanities, principles of technology, and several special HVAC/R topics.

  • Location: Gadsden, AL
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges; PAHRA
  • Expected Time to Completion: Five semesters
  • Estimated Tuition: In-State ($164 per credit); out-of-state ($297 per credit)

Georgia Piedmont Technical College

Georgia Piedmont Technical College, with campuses in Clarkston and Covington Georgia, offers an associate degree program in air conditioning technologies. The program is part of the college’s Industrial and Transportation Technologies schools, which also offers a degree in commercial refrigeration. These programs emphasize a combination of practical and theory, so students develop a holistic understanding of the topic.

The degree in air conditioning technologies requires a minimum 66 credits and includes courses in principles of economics, macroeconomics, and microeconomics, refrigeration fundamentals, refrigeration principles and practices, refrigeration systems components, HVAC/R electrical fundamentals, HVAC/R electrical motors, and air conditioning system applications and installation, to name a few.

The AAS degree in commercial refrigeration prepares students for installing, servicing, and selling commercial refrigeration equipment. Requiring 73 credits, the program includes courses such as introduction to computers, refrigeration systems components, troubleshooting and servicing commercial refrigeration, commercial refrigeration design, commercial refrigeration application, thermodynamics of refrigeration, and direct current circuits, among others.

  • Location: Clarkston, GA
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges; PAHRA
  • Expected Time to Completion: Two to three semesters
  • Estimated Tuition: $100 per credit

Gateway Community College

Gateway Community College is currently the only HVAC program accredited by PAHRA in Arizona. It offers a variety of HVAC programs at its Phoenix campus. An AAS degree in air conditioning/refrigeration/facilities is one of them. The program has been designed to provide students with training in the areas of HVAC/R systems, electronic controls and instrumentation, electricity, hydronics, general repair, and electro-mechanical devices.

This AAS degree program comprises 66 to 74.5 credits, including courses such as computer usage and applications, refrigeration applications and components, electricity for industry, motors, controls and wiring diagrams, electro-mechanical devices, facilities air conditioning systems, controls and instrumentation, commercial air and water test and balance, and refrigeration applications and components II, among others. The program also involves general education courses such as first-year composition, introduction to human communication, technical and professional writing, college critical reading and critical thinking, fundamental chemistry, and mathematical concepts and applications.

Students through the program will develop the knowledge and skills necessary for quickly assessing and solving problems in emergency situations. Students are also provided with an opportunity to develop verbal and written communication skills through the program’s general education courses. Upon completion, graduates can take up roles such as HVAC mechanics, installers, and refrigeration technicians and installers.

  • Location: Phoenix, AZ
  • Accreditation: Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA)
  • Estimated Time to Completion: 24 months
  • Estimated Tuition: $6,518

Hennepin Technical College

It should come as no surprise that some of the best heating technology training programs are located in the frigid north in Minnesota. Hennepin Technical College, with campuses in Brooklyn Park and Eden Prairie, Minnesota, offers an Associate of Applied Science HVAC degree. Students through the program learn how to work with cooling or heating rooftop units, computerized control systems and chillers, ice machines, hydronic boilers and high-efficiency air furnaces, and coolers or freezers. There are numerous opportunities for students to advance their careers.

Some of the courses required to complete the degree include basic refrigeration, psychometrics, gas heat systems, refrigerant transition and recovery, electrical diagrams, central air conditioners, residential heat pumps, hydronic heat systems, commercial heat pump systems, and general education courses like interpersonal communication. A total of 72 credits are required.

Graduates should be able to install, retrofit, service, and repair residential and commercial air handling units, troubleshoot electrical motors, control circuits, gas heating equipment, and solve problems using analytical thinking. They will be prepared to take up roles such as installer, service technician, quality control technician, sales consultant, quality control technician, and layout person.

  • Location: Brooklyn Park and Eden Prairie, MN
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission, HVAC Excellence
  • Expected Time to Completion: 24 months
  • Estimated Tuition: $166.22 per credit

Illinois Central College

At Illinois Central College in Peoria, Illinois, students can earn an associate of applied science degree in HVAC/R technology. This HVAC/R technology program trains students in installing, maintaining, and repairing residential, industrial, and commercial HVAC/R systems.

In order to obtain admission, students must have completed at least one year of high school algebra with a grade of “C” or higher. To graduate from the program, students must take and pass Industrial Competency Exams in both residential and light commercial refrigeration.

Consisting of 69 credit-hours, the program includes courses such as residential and commercial wiring, residential air conditioning, introduction to refrigeration, residential furnaces, heat pumps and geothermal, light commercial refrigeration, residential hydronic systems, and commercial refrigeration and ice machines, among others.

Graduates can take up roles such as HVAC installer, heating and air conditioning mechanic and installer, HVAC service technician, refrigeration mechanic and installer, and HVAC mechanic, and many such roles.

  • Location: East Peoria, IL
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission; PAHRA
  • Expected Time to Completion: 24 months
  • Estimated Tuition: $150 per credit

Mount San Antonio Community College

Mt. SAC, located in Walnut, offers an associate of science degree in HVAC/R. The program imparts valuable hands-on experience and classroom knowledge in dealing with HVAC systems, including troubleshooting components, properly disposing of refrigerants, and performing residential heat loads.

Courses include welding for air conditioning and refrigeration, refrigeration fundamentals, air conditioning codes and standards, gas heating fundamentals, electrical fundamentals for air conditioning and refrigeration, and advanced mechanical refrigeration, to name a few. Most notably, Mount San Antonio has the distinction of being the only program in the Golden State to be both HVAC Excellence- and PAHRA-accredited. The associate of science (AS) degree is made up of 61.5 credits.

Along with classroom knowledge, students also gain valuable practical experience with handling refrigerants, welding, electrical and mechanical operations, and building automation.

  • Location: Walnut, CA
  • Accreditation: PAHRA; HVAC Excellence
  • Expected Time to Completion: 24 months
  • Estimated Tuition: $46 per unit

Jefferson College

Jefferson College in Hillsboro, Missouri, offers an associate of applied science degree in heating, refrigeration, and air-conditioning technology. The program grooms students to work as technicians or installers in this increasingly technical and rapidly growing field of HVAC/R. The curriculum of the program includes traditional HVAC/R training and the latest industry trends such as solar hot water, and mini-split systems.

The program is made up of 70 to 72 credits. It includes courses such as electricity for HVAC, refrigeration and A/C mechanical systems, principles of refrigeration, residential gas heating systems, residential air conditioning systems, electric and hydronic heat, commercial refrigeration systems, and heat pumps and mini-splits, among others. The college has a robust listing of general education courses to ensure that students receive a well-rounded education in addition to proven technical instruction from highly experienced instructors.

Accredited by HVAC Excellence, this program allows its students to take various industry-recognized tests showcasing their employment readiness. Upon graduation, graduates can take up various roles such as maintenance mechanics, HVAC installers, or sheet metal workers.

  • Location: Hillsboro, MO
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission; HVAC Excellence
  • Expected Time to Completion: 24 months
  • Estimated Tuition: In-district – Jefferson County ($112 per credit); out-of-district/in-state ($168 per credit); out-of-state ($224 per credit)

John A. Logan College

John A. Logan College offers an associate of applied science degree in heating and air conditioning. All courses, apart from the internship component, take place at the college’s Carterville, IL campus. The program prepares students for careers in the HVAC industry. The curriculum of the program provides theory as well as sufficient laboratory experience preparing graduates for immediate employment. Graduates will be trained for competency to install, operate, troubleshoot, and maintain all types of environmental control equipment.

The degree requires a total of 70 credits. Sample some of the courses in the curriculum: residential electrical wiring, weatherization, basic sheet metal layout, electrical controls and circuitry, construction document interpretation, advanced sheet metal layout, advanced heating systems, installation of HVAC systems, commercial refrigeration, and geothermal systems.

After completing the program, graduates various career opportunities such as technicians, installers, maintenance, service managers, and self-employment.

  • Location: Carterville, IL
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission; PAHRA
  • Expected Time to Completion: 24 months
  • Estimated Tuition: In-District ($125 per credit); out-of-district ($173 per credit); out-of-state ($209 per credit)

Lone Star College

The Lone Star College system, with seven campuses throughout Texas, offers many courses of HVAC instruction. The AAS degree in HVAC/R is one of the many HVAC programs offered by Lone Star College. This degree program prepares students for technical careers in light commercial or residential environmental systems. The students will study the electrical/electronic and mechanical systems used in modern environmental controls.

Students can earn an HVAC/R associate of applied science degree with at least 60 credits of study, 12 of which must fulfill general education requirements. Some of the courses in the curriculum include basic electricity for HVAC, gas and electric heating, refrigeration principles, residential air conditioning, EPA recovery certification preparation, air conditioning troubleshooting, advanced electricity for HVAC, heat pumps, advanced air conditioning controls, and industrial air conditioning.

Graduates can take up roles such as HVAC technician, HVAC service technician, HVAC mechanic, and more.

  • Location: Houston, TX
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
  • Expected Time to Completion: 24 months
  • Estimated Tuition: $862 per semester

Minneapolis Community & Technical College

Minneapolis Community & Technical College offers an associate of applied science degree in HVAC/R. The program provides students with hands-on and classroom instruction from knowledgeable and certified instructors. Students are trained in diagnosing problems, performing repairs, and conducting maintenance on commercial and residential HVAC/R systems.

The program comprises 72 credits, 15 of which must fulfill general education requirements. Sample some of the courses in the curriculum: refrigeration fundamentals, basic electricity, trade tools, and test instruments, interpreting schematic drawings, copper fabrication, refrigeration management, electric motors and motor controls, heat pumps, gas-fired furnaces, commercial refrigeration, and HVAC rooftop systems.

Graduates learn to diagnose, repair, and maintain commercial and residential HVAC/R systems, work with heat ventilators, cleaning devices, electrical controls, testing instruments, and air measurement equipment. Upon completion, they can take up roles such as indoor air quality specialist, HVAC service technician, HVAC/R building maintenance specialist, and commercial refrigeration service technician.

  • Location: Minneapolis, MN
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission, HVAC Excellence
  • Expected Time to Completion: 24 months
  • Estimated Tuition: Based on 15 credits ($5,660 annually)

Grand Rapids Community College

At the Grand Rapids Community College, there are several HVAC programs available, including a two-year associate of applied arts and sciences (AAS) degree in HVAC/R technology. Students through the program develop skills and knowledge about HVAC/R principles, blueprint reading, using reference manuals, diagnosing malfunctions, and overhauling, repairing, and adjusting parts, systems, and units.

This degree program consists of 60 credits. It includes courses such as basic refrigeration, heating and cooling controls, refrigeration applications, air conditioning theory, heating theory, HVAC/R electronic controls, HVAC blueprint reading and design, commercial refrigeration, duct construction and design, metallic and non-metallic joining, basic boiler operation, and mechanical codes.

The program opens up several opportunities for graduates. They can take up roles such as heating and cooling technician, climate control technician, air-conditioning technician, domestic air-conditioning installer, heating technician, refrigeration technician, and environmental-control-system installer.

  • Location: Grand Rapids, MI
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission; PAHRA
  • Expected Time to Completion: 24 months
  • Estimated Tuition: Resident ($117 per credit); non-resident ($247 per credit); out-of-state ($371 per credit)

Oakton Community College

Oakton Community College, with campuses in Des Plaines and Skokie, Illinois, has an air conditioning, heating, and refrigeration department that offers an associate of applied science degree along with a number of professional certificates. The goal of this degree program is to help students develop the knowledge and skills that are needed for certification and employment in various areas. Students will learn how to examine the performance of HVAC/R systems, gauge energy consumption, and learn methods and principles of energy conservation.

Graduates of the AAS program will have completed 42 semester-credits of technical courses and at least 18 credits of general education requirements such as communications, mathematics, and humanities. Sample some of the technical courses: introduction to air conditioning and refrigeration, introduction to electricity and automatic controls, commercial refrigeration systems, heating and air conditioning load calculations, advanced automatic controls, and applied physics.

Graduates will be able to sit for the EPA Section 608 Certification and install, maintain, service, and repair various types of HVAC/R systems. They will be able to take up roles such as heating and refrigeration technician, heating and air-conditioning installers, commercial refrigeration mechanic, manufacturer’s service specialist, and more.

  • Location: Des Plaines, IL; Skokie, IL
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association (HLC); PAHRA
  • Expected Time to Completion: 24 months
  • Estimated Tuition: In district ($136.25 per credit); out-of-district ($367 per credit); out-of-state ($439 per credit)

Southcentral Kentucky Community & Technical College

The Southcentral Kentucky Community & Technical College, abbreviated to SKYCTC, offers an associate of applied science degree in air conditioning technology. The program, accredited by HVAC Excellence, is designed to prepare HVAC technicians to enter the workforce immediately upon graduation, with knowledge in air conditioning technology as well as heating, ventilation, and refrigeration. The program teaches students about designing, building, and maintaining HVAC/R systems through hands-on training.

Made up of 60 to 66 credits, the program includes courses such as refrigeration fundamentals, electrical components, heat load/duct design, cooling and dehumidification, heating and humidification, heat pump application, quantitative reasoning, and basic blueprint reading, among others.

Graduates of this program may choose to work for HVAC contractors, or can even become entrepreneurs and start their own company. Other job opportunities might include appliance repair, facilities A/C maintenance, general service technicians, and duct installation.

  • Location: Bowling Green, KY
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges; HVAC Excellence
  • Expected Time to Completion: 24 months
  • Estimated Tuition: $11,484

Southern Technical College

Southern Technical College, with campuses throughout Florida, offers a unique HVAC training program. Students who are accepted can earn an associate of science degree in applied electronics technology with an emphasis on HVAC. This degree allows students to obtain specialized knowledge in HVAC repair and installation while also giving them a bigger picture view of HVAC systems and electrical theory overall.

This associate of science degree program in HVAC/R comprises 93 quarter-credits and includes courses such as introduction to building construction, systems controls, basic electricity and electronics, motors and controls, air conditioning and refrigeration theory, commercial refrigeration, and commercial air conditioning, to name a few.

Students learn to apply electronic and electrical theory and related knowledge for designing, building, repairing, calibrating, and modifying commercial and residential HVAC/R systems. Graduates have career opportunities at construction sites, hospitals, educational facilities, factories, residential establishments, retail establishments, and many more.

  • Location: Sanford, FL
  • Accreditation: Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 18 months
  • Estimated Tuition: Contact the school for a customized assessment

Western Technical College

HVAC students at La Crosse, Wisconsin’s Western Technical College are able to learn in the school’s high-tech HVAC training lab that allows them to test and repair sample HVAC systems for an ideal hands-on experience. The college offers an associate of applied science degree in HVAC/R. Technicians in this program will participate in several areas of HVAC-related work such as designing, selling, installing, maintaining, and servicing of commercial HVAC/R equipment.

Graduates from the program can earn an associate of applied science degree in as few as 64 credits. Prior to admission, students must prove their competence in reading, writing, and math through standardized testing or previous classroom experience. The curriculum explores topics such as HVAC/R electric motors and controls, HVAC/R air conditioning, HVAC/R refrigeration, HVAC/R intro to installation, HVAC/R commercial refrigeration, HVAC/R energy, HVAC/R commercial systems, HVAC/R system design, HVAC/R hydronic and steam systems, and HVAC/R commercial systems, among others.

Graduates of this program will learn about installing, servicing, troubleshooting, analyzing, evaluating, and designing HVAC/R systems, repairing HVAC/R equipment, and choosing the best heating and cooling system for different environments.

They can take up roles such as HVAC engineer, facilities specialist, HVAC/refrigeration specialist, HVAC service technician, HVAC estimator, maintenance or service technician, and HVAC repair or installation technician.

  • Location: La Crosse, WI
  • Accreditation: PAHRA
  • Expected Time to Completion: Four semesters
  • Estimated Tuition: $12,800

Methodology

Earning an associate degree in HVAC technology can mean committing a great deal of time and money to a program of study. The schools on this list were chosen for their rigorous curriculula, past performance, and overall record as upstanding institutions of learning.

  1. Accreditation: Accreditation is one of the first things to look for when choosing an HVAC program. The majority of schools on this list have been accredited by either the Partnership for Air-conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA) or HVAC Excellence. Both of these organizations were formed specifically to evaluate HVAC training programs for their efficacy and value.
  2. Degree Options: Many HVAC programs offer only a professional certificate or diploma, but every school included here has an Associate of Applied Science degree program. This means that students are required not only to learn the technical skills necessary to begin a career as an HVAC technician, but also basic general education requirements that will serve them well throughout their lives. Each college is different but courses usually include writing, basic mathematics, and at least some humanities education.
  3. Geographic Diversity: To create an inclusive list, we chose to find programs that represent most regions of the U.S. This is particularly relevant in choosing HVAC programs because many states have different licensing requirements. Educators in different states can shed light on the requirements in that particular state, making it easier for students to obtain the right license and build a career there.

Farheen Gani

Farheen is a freelance writer, marketer, and researcher. She writes about technology, education, and marketing. Her work has appeared on websites such as Tech in Asia and Foundr, as well as top SaaS blogs such as Zapier and InVision. You can connect with her on LinkedIn and Twitter (@FarheenGani).

Related posts

hcc-200x200

May 04, 2021

There is no question that air conditioning technician is a job that is in high demand. Virtually every new building needs a trained technician to...(more)

hvac thumb

April 15, 2021

Learn about the benefits of union membership, and about the advocacy issues most important to the HVAC industry today, through an interview with a past...(more)