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Understanding Degrees, Transfer Degrees, and Certificates

Both degrees and certificates are proof of the completion of work in a certain program or field. Degrees cover a broader scope of knowledge and take longer to complete. Certificates are focused on specific areas of expertise.

The associate degree is most often awarded to students completing educationally broad based post secondary programs usually requiring two years of full-time study. In some instances, particularly allied health programs, three years is the norm. For students who need developmental/remedial coursework, the time will be extended since these credits will not apply toward the associates degree.

However, for an associates degree it is not unusual for students to study part time, and therefore take more than two years to complete the degree. In 2004, 61 percent of U.S. community colleges students were enrolled part time. To accommodate working students, community colleges strive to offer required courses during evening hours.

Learn more about degrees and transfers