Top HVAC Degree Programs

There has never been a better time to seek out training as an HVAC technician. With the right skills to repair and install heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning along with refrigeration systems, it can be a truly rewarding career path that is only growing in demand.

While states have varying educational requirements for HVAC technicians, spending at least some time in a classroom learning the basics is a great way to jumpstart a career. The programs on this list offer, at minimum, an Associate of Applied Science degree while some even offer an HVAC bachelor’s degree. They represent a diverse geographic area and each has its own strengths that can help to propel students into a brand new lifelong career.

Bates Technical College

Bates Technical College, with three locations in Tacoma, Washington, offers an Associate of Technology degree in Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration. Students who wish to complete the program must pass the Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute industry competency exam. As of 2014, BTC is the only PAHRA-accredited program in the state of Washington.

Blackhawk Technical College

Blackhawk Technical College, with three locations in Wisconsin (Janesville, Beloit, and Monroe), it is a natural place to begin one's HVAC studies. The college offers an Associate of Applied Science HVAC degree that also covers refrigeration and refrigerant handling. Many of the credits earned from the BTC program will transfer to a four-year schools for those students that wish to pursue their education even further.

Chippewa Valley Technical College

Eau Claire, Wisconsin is home to Chippewa Valley Technical College, which offers an Associate of Applied Science HVAC degree. The program addresses environmental concerns in the HVAC industry and prepares students for their EPA refrigerant handling examination as well as an HVAC industry competency exam.

College of Southern Nevada

The College of Southern Nevada, with locations in North Las Vegas, Charleston, and Henderson, offers four AAS degree programs and four certificates in air conditioning technology. Providing advanced HVAC/R training, these programs place special emphasis on hands-on methods and practical skills to prepare students in analyzing, synthesizing, and solving problems related to HVAC/R.

The certificate programs offered by the College of Southern Nevada include:

  • Air Conditioning Technology (40.5 credits)
  • Air Conditioning Technology: Central Plant (41 credits)
  • Air Conditioning Technology: Critical Systems (40 credits)
  • Air Conditioning Technology: Food Service Refrigeration (42.5 credits)

The AAS degree programs include:

  • Air Conditioning Technology (60 credits)
  • Air Conditioning Technology: Central Plant (60 credits)
  • Air Conditioning Technology: Critical Systems (60 credits)
  • Air Conditioning Technology: Food Service Refrigeration (61.5 credits)

The curriculum consists of courses such as residential gas heating, introduction to HVAC electrical theory and application, commercial refrigeration, heat pumps, copper fundamentals, boiler operation and maintenance, HVAC automatic controls, industrial electricity, equipment cooling, and equipment cooling, among others.

Graduates of these programs are prepared to obtain their EPA 608 certification as well as HVAC Excellence Employment Readiness certification. The college also offers an Entry-Level Air Conditioning Technician program which is made up of 18.5 credits.

  • Location: Henderson, NV; Las Vegas, NV; North Las Vegas, NV
  • Accreditation: Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU); PAHRA; HVAC Excellence
  • Expected Time to Completion: Certificates (one year each); AAS degrees (one years each)
  • Estimated Tuition: Lower-division courses ($109.75 per credit); Upper-division courses ($180 per credit)

Dunwoody College of Technology

Located in Minneapolis, Minnesota, HVAC students at Dunwoody College of Technology can earn an Associate of Applied Science degree in HVAC Installation & Residential Service. The program requires a four semester commitment and is part of the college's construction sciences and building technology division. Employers of Dunwoody graduates have included Honeywell, Centraire, and B&D Plumbing and Heating.

Elgin Community College

Elgin Community College, located in Elgin, Illinois, offers students the chance to earn an Associate of Applied Science degree in Heating, Ventilation, Air-conditioning, and Refrigeration. With accreditation from PAHRA as well as a stellar transfer record, this could be an ideal program for someone that may want to go on to complete a bachelor's degree but wants the option to stop at an AAS if necessary.

Ferris State University

One of the few universities making an appearance on this list, Ferris State University in Big Rapids, Michigan actually offers both an Associate of Applied Science and a Bachelor's Degree in HVACR Technology and Energy Management. Going on to pursue a more in-depth degree can make a big difference for those technicians that want to go on to more managerial or engineering jobs.

Fresno City College

Fresno City College in Fresno, California has an Associate Degree program in Air Conditioning as part of their Applied Technology division. The program runs for 21 weeks and requires 59 total units for graduation. With California among the top states to seek HVAC employment, this college could be a great choice for prospective technicians.

Front Range Community College

Although Front Range Community College has multiple locations in Colorado, their HVAC programis only offered at their Larimer campus, making it a convenient choice for those who are local to that area. FRCC offers an Associate of Applied Science degree in Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration. Prior to graduation, students must complete industry competency exams in Residential Air Conditioning and Heating, Light Commercial Air Conditioning and Heating, and Commercial Refrigeration.

Gateway Community College

Gateway Community College in Phoenix, Arizona offers an Associate of Applied Science degree in Air Conditioning/Refrigeration/Facilities. The program requires both HVAC degree specific programs along with general education courses with a focus on communications and reading. Overall, students must complete between 46 and 49 hours in order to obtain the degree. The program has earned accreditation from PAHRA.

Ivy Tech Community College

With campuses throughout the state of Indiana, including Indianapolis, Fort Wayne, and Terra Haute, Ivy Tech Community College (ITCC) can be an ideal choice for HVAC students looking for a degree program there. ITCC offers an Associate of Applied Science degree that requires 60 credit hours over four semesters. Successful students will receive nationally recognized certifications in various disciplines including heat pumps, gas heat, and HVAC-related electrical systems.

J.F. Drake State Technical College

J.F. Drake State Technical College, located in North Hunstville, Alabama, offers an Associate Degree in Heating and Air Conditioning Technology. Students must take 72 course hours to complete the AAT degree and the program has been awarded accreditation by HVAC Excellence.

Johnson County Community College

Johnson County Community College (JCCC) in Overland Park, Kansas has one of the most robust HVAC training programs of the colleges on this list. Not only do they offer an HVAC Associate of Applied Science degree, they offer both residential and commercial specialties. JCCC also offers an Envirotech Scholarship for qualified students as well as a technician certificate programs for those students who are unable to commit to the full AAS training regimen.

Lewis-Clark State College

Lewis-Clark State College in Lewiston, Idaho has an HVAC training program that is unique in a few ways. The college offers a one-year certificate, a two-year advanced certificate, a two-year Associate of Applied Sciences and a four-year Bachelor's Degree in Heating, Air Conditioning, and Appliance Technology. Further, the school has stringent requirements for admission to the program, ensuring classes of students destined to succeed in the field.

Linn State Technical College

Linn State Technical College in Linn, Missouri, allows students to work towards an Associate in Applied Science HVAC degree. The school accepts applications once per year and has received accreditation from both HVAC Excellence and PAHRA. The 72 hours of required courses include training in job search strategy and general education.

Mt. San Antonio State

Mt. San Antonio State in Walnut, California is affectionately referred to as "Mt. SAC" and offers an Associate of Science Degree in Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Technology as part of the Technology Career Cluster. HVAC classes take place during the day as well as in the evening, making it an ideal program for part-time students looking to change careers.

North Georgia Technical College

At North Georgia Technical College, with locations in Clarkesville, Blairsville, and Toccoa, students can earn an Associate's Degree in Air Conditioning Technology. The program is accredited by HVAC Excellence, which means it has been evaluated by experts in HVAC degree programs and has met their high standards, making it a smart choice for Georgia HVAC students.

Northern Virginia Community College

Northern Virginia Community College (NVCC) offers students the opportunity to earn an Associate of Applied Science degree in Air Conditioning and Refrigeration. Students who have previously attended college level courses may be able to transfer credits at the beginning of the program, thereby shortening their stay at NVCC. Otherwise, the typical student schedule means that program lasts four semesters and covers 67 total credit hours.

Northwest Mississippi Community College

The Senatobia, Mississippi campus of Northwest Mississippi Community College offers an Associate of Applied Science HVAC degree to qualifying students. All HVAC graduates must obtain an EPA refrigerant handling certification prior to graduation, in addition to 72 hours of coursework.

Pennsylvania College of Technology

Pennsylvania College of Technology, which is affiliated with Pennsylvania State University, offers a variety of HVAC degree programs. Not only do they offer an Associate of Applied Science degree in Heating, Ventilation, & Air Conditioning Technology and Mechanical Systems, they also offer a Bachelor of Science degree in Heating, Ventilation & Air Conditioning Design Technology and an HVAC certificate. The school places a particular focus on the "green" career possibilities for graduates of their program due to a focus on environmentally sustainable work practices and technologies.

Pikes Peak Community College

Pikes Peak Community College, located in Colorado Springs, Colorado, has a highly regarded HVAC degree program. The college offers an Associate of Applied Sciences degree in the field. The AAS program requires two years of courses to complete, but the duration may be shortened if students take general education classes during the summer semester.

Pitt Community College

Pitt Community College in Winterville, North Carolina offers an Associate of Applied Science HVAC degree which includes instruction in heating and cooling theory, electricity, and residential building codes. These practical courses mean that students are well prepared to enter the workforce upon graduation.

Scott Community College

Scott Community College in Bettendorf, Iowa has both a diploma and Associate of Applied Science degree in Heating, Ventilation & Air-conditioning. Student do classroom work as well as hands-on training in order to prepare themselves for entry level employment upon graduation.

University of Northwestern Ohio

Located in Lima, Ohio, the University of Northwestern Ohio offers an Associate of Applied Science and a less rigorous Certificate program in Heating, Ventilation, Air-conditioning, and Refrigeration. The AAS program requires a total of 88 credit hours, including general education courses, and usually takes students 72 weeks to complete.

Vernon College

Vernon College, which maintains both a Vernon and Wichita, Texas campus, offers an HVAC Associate of Applied Science degree. In order to graduate from the program, students must complete between 60 and 62 course hours in such classes as Residential Air Conditioning, Electricity Principles, and Heat Pumps.

Methodology

In order to select the top HVAC degree programs in the country, we took a few different factors into consideration including the degree options available, third-party accreditation, and certification or exam preparation.

  1. Degree Offered (rather than certificate) The most common degree awarded to HVAC students is that of an Associate of Applied Science. However, not every HVAC program prepares students to obtain a degree at all, instead offering much shorter certificate programs. This list includes only degree programs - either AAS or Bachelor's Degrees - for those who are serious about pursuing a career and willing to put in the requisite hours in the classroom and in the field.

  2. Accreditation (HVAC excellence, PAHRA) When a school obtains accreditation, it means it has been evaluated by a third-party association or organization with some type of expertise in higher education. Every program on this list has obtained accreditation from either HVAC Excellence or the Partnership for Air-conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Accreditation. Both of these organizations only offer accreditation to HVAC or HVAC/R programs and do so using a combination of self-evaluation and peer review.

  3. Certifications Preparation While HVAC licensing requirements can vary from state to state and even among municipalities, there are some certifications that cross state boundaries. Higher consideration was given to those programs that specify they prepare students for such things as local licensing or national EPA certification under section 608 of the Clean Air Act.

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