Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC)

Community College of Allegheny County

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Starting Classes

Developmental Course and Placement Test

Financial Aid



Graduation Requirements


Starting Classes

How do I plan my first semester?
Meet with an academic advisor. The academic advisor will help you plan your first semester's schedule, helping to ensure that you are in the right classes and that these classes are taught at the most convenient times and places available. Many classes at the College have prerequisites or corequisites. Prerequisites are classes/skills that you will need before you can register for a particular course. Corequisites are classes that you must take during the same semester. You will learn information in each class that will help you in the other.

Attendance and outside study expectations:

One hour of instruction a week for 15 hours over a 15-week semester equals one college credit. A good "rule of thumb" is that you should plan on studying two hours a week for every one hour spent in class. For a three credit class, you should plan on six hours of study a week. A full-time student enrolls for a minimum of 12 credits a semester. About 40% of the students at the college attend on a full-time basis.

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Developmental Course and Placement Test Questions

Can I get a waiver for developmental classes or classes that won’t transfer to a four-year school?
You may not need to take all or part of the placement tests if any of the following circumstances apply:

  • You already have a college degree.
  • You have already taken college-level English and/or Mathematics and received at least a C grade.
  • You are taking class/classes that have no specified skill requirements.
  • Students with SAT or ACT test scores above the 50th percentile will be exempt from placement testing for reading and mathematics.

Do I have to take the developmental courses?
Taking developmental courses is based on your placement test results and your educational record, which are discussed with an academic advisor prior to course registration.

Why do I have to take developmental courses that will not transfer?
Developmental courses will assist in developing the appropriate skills required for college level course work.

Is ENG-100 or DVS-103 considered a General Elective?
ENG-100 is considered a General Elective, but not a Humanities or English elective.
DVS-101 and DVS-103 are considered General Electives.

Must I take 080 Math first if I prefer taking Math 090?
Yes, MAT-080 or appropriate score on the Placement Test is required before you may enroll in MAT-090.

What do the placement tests results mean?
They determine your initial placement in English, mathematics and reading courses as well as your eligibility for other courses as described in the college catalog.

The test results will be interpreted for you when you meet with an academic advisor. 

How are courses sequenced?
Courses are sequenced using numbers, lowest to highest. It is recommended that students start with the lower number courses and gradually move up into the higher course numbers. The core courses should be completed in sequence so that you will be prepared for the advanced courses. CCAC requires students to earn a C grade or better in developmental courses in order to take the next course in that discipline or to use that course as a pre-requisite.  

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Financial Aid Questions

How to apply for financial aid?
Students can apply for financial aid at anytime during the year. They are encouraged to apply online so that the turnaround time is a matter of days as opposed to weeks if sent through the mail. Students may need to go on the payment plan and then get reimbursed once their aid application is processed, depending on timing.

Why does financial aid take so long to process?
Students must apply online so that the turnaround time is a matter of days as opposed to weeks through the mail. If students apply on line and respond to any requests for additional information from the Financial Aid office in a timely manner, the entire process can be a matter of a week. However, there are times when there may be an excess in volume in the Financial Aid office and application processing gets backlogged and turnaround time may be delayed.

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Transfer Questions

How can I find out what CCAC courses will transfer to various 4-year institutions?
Transfer programs correspond to specific majors at four-year institutions, and each major and four-year college has its own requirements. To be sure students are meeting requirements for the major and school to which they intend to transfer, we urge them to meet as early as possible with a transfer counselor.

What are transfer credits?
If you have taken courses at another accredited college and wish to have them count toward your degree at CCAC, you should request that an official transcript be forwarded to CCAC from the other college and complete an Application for Credit Transfer.  The transferred credits will appear on the CCAC transcript when the student has completed at least one passing grade at CCAC. Only A, B, and C grades are transferred. 

Will this course(s) transfer to CCAC?
Regulation Statements:

  • CCAC will evaluate transfer credits based on the appropriateness of those courses to the student’s declared academic program at the time of evaluation.
  • Students must submit official transcripts directly from each attended institution. CCAC will not return the transcripts.
  • CCAC may accept credits from proprietary schools on a limited basis for equivalent occupational/skills courses; general education courses from proprietary schools are generally not transferable.
  • CCAC will only accept C grades and above, except in the case of sequential college level courses when the student earns a D grade in the first course and earns a C grade or higher in the second or third course.
  • Transfer credits older than ten (10) years will be reviewed and may be accepted.
  • CCAC will accept P (pass) or S (satisfactory) grades from other institutions.
  • CCAC will post advanced standing when the student has established a CCAC transcript with at least one passing grade.
  • Courses for which there is no CCAC equivalent; may not transfer but an attempt will be made to transfer the course as an elective.

CCAC will accept credits from:

  • Two and four-year institutions accredited by the regional accreditation agencies.
  • CLEP equivalent courses and total credit amount/s earned as determined internally and approved by the CCAC Academic Standards and Student Affairs Committee.
  • AP examinations administered by the College Entrance Examination Board. The equivalent courses and total credit amount/s are determined internally and approved by the CCAC Academic Standards and Student Affairs Committee.
  • USAFI correspondence courses supervised by the Post Education Center at the University of Maryland Overseas program.
  • Military course work and training based on recommendations by the American Council on Education.
  • Credit-by-examination created by CCAC academic departments
  • Formal agreements to award credit for training from specified agencies and organizations.
  • CCAC will review course work from international postsecondary schools. Student must have a college approved agency translate and equate to college level courses the transcript prior to evaluation.

What is the transfer process to go from CCAC to a four-year college?
Because each school is different it is necessary to speak with a transfer counselor at your campus for the specific transfer details for a particular institution. Counseling offices at each campus are available to assist you in transferring to a four-year institution.

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Major/Program Questions

What courses do I need for my major?
Each academic program at CCAC requires specific course work. Additional explanations of the various aspects of the academic degree are also available.

How do I choose a major?
Meeting with a career counselor can assist you selecting a major that will fit your interests, abilities, and values.

The major I am enrolled in has some courses changed, what do I do?
When a program of study/major is declared by a student you are responsible for meeting those requirements to be able to receive your degree. When changes occur while you are enrolled, you should continue to follow the program under which you started.  If you leave the college and the program is changed during your absence you are required to fulfill the requirements as they are stated upon your return.

How do I apply to get into the Nursing Program?
The Nursing program requires students complete a specific set of courses prior to applying to the program. As you near completion of those courses you will complete the admissions process for Nursing

Why can't I take Business Math for my Mathematics Elective?
CCAC offers both career programs and transfer programs. MAT-195 (Business Mathematics) was specifically designed for some career programs. If you are enrolled in a transfer program or a career program requiring higher level math skills MAT-195 may not provide you with the skills you need to be successful in the work place.

Do I have to take mathematics?
All degree programs require general education courses which include a minimum of three (3) credits in mathematics. 

What is a prerequisite?
You must have a certain level of skill or information before you can register and be successful in a specific course. 

Who can I speak to if I don’t know what career path I want to follow?
Career Counselors are available at each campus to discuss potential career paths and assess personal career strengths through career testing.

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Graduation Requirements Questions

How long will it take me to graduate?
Associate degrees in specific programs require a GPA of 2.00 or higher for all college level courses and a minimum of sixty (60) credits distributed between specific program and elective courses.

Completing the Graduation Check Sheet for your program can help you to determine the length of time it will take to graduate.

How do I apply for graduation?
In order to graduate you must complete a Graduation Application form at the Advising office, meet with an academic advisor and pay the $20 graduation fee. It is recommended that you apply during the semester prior to your last semester.

You must also satisfy any financial obligations before your transcript and diploma are released.

How many credits are needed for a second degree?
To earn a second Associate Degree, you must complete at least twenty-one (21) credits over and above those used for the first degree at CCAC and complete the requirements of the second program.

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Other Questions

When do classes begin?
The college has a 16 week (15 weeks of class plus examination week) and a 14-week (13 weeks of class plus examination week) term in both the fall and the spring semesters; in the summers there are courses offered in 4, 6, 8, and 10 week sessions. The Academic Calendar provides dates you may want to pay close attention to such as the last day for 100% refund, start dates, withdrawal dates and final exam dates.

How many credits do I need to take to be considered a full time student?
Students taking 12 or more credits are considered full time.

If a class is full and I really want to be enrolled in it what can I do?
The course instructor can provide you with written permission to enroll in a course that is full. Present this permission to the Registration office who will register you in the course.

What is a Humanities Elective?
Humanities electives explore academic disciplines such as philosophy, art, language. Examples of appropriate electives in this category include PHL-101 and ART-104.

What are restricted electives?
Restricted electives are courses identified by the department/ academic program area as categories from which students can select particular courses. 

What are distance learning courses?
Distance learning courses deliver classroom instruction via non traditional methods - internet courses, telecourses, and videoconference courses. The majority of the interaction between teacher and students and among students primarily takes place electronically. Electronic communication may take the form of audio, video, email, chat, teleconferencing, and/or the internet.

How do internet courses work?
Internet courses are conducted primarily on line. Students interact with the instructor and classmates using Blackboard. Learning activities and assignments are completed according to the instructions and schedule developed by the instructor. Most course work can be completed asynchronously which means student do not have to be on line at a particular time each day. 

How do I find out the requirements for a distance learning course if an instructor is not listed?
Students need to meet technical requirements to be able to complete the required course material when taking distance learning courses.

Additionally, specific course requirements are available by semester.

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What is the procedure for cross-registration?
Students can cross register for one course not offered at CCAC per semester at one of the participating colleges. An academic advisor can assist in this process as students need permission from both CCAC and the other institution. Beginning this process early in the enrollment cycle will help this to occur smoothly.

Why can't I drop/add after a certain date?
The college follows an academic calendar which dictates when in each term certain activities take place. After the drop/add period in each term students can select to withdraw from a course(s) if the need arises.

How can I withdraw from a course?
Students can withdraw from classes by going to the Registration office and requesting a withdrawal form.  Please also see our refund policies.

What happens when I fail a class?  Do I have to take it over?
If you receive a D or F in a course you can repeat it. When you do so the original grade will remain on your transcript with a notation indicating it is no longer calculated into your grade point average and the most recent grade will be calculated.

You may make four (4) attempts to pass a course. However, the fourth (4th) attempt requires permission of the Academic Dean and will be allowed only under compelling circumstances.

How long will it take to get off academic suspension?
Academic suspension is a temporary dismissal from the college for two (2) academic semesters (all summer sessions combined equal one semester).  Students who are academically suspended have the option of appealing this status which may result in the opportunity to return earlier than two semesters.

How can I have a D or F grade(s) removed from my transcript?

You may apply for academic forgiveness of D and F grades.

  • Absence of Four Years: Credit coursework has not been attempted for four calendar years. All courses, including developmental and courses currently being repeated, can be considered.
  • Change of Program (major): Consideration will only be  given to completed courses which are not applicable to the new program. Developmental courses are ineligible. Electives can be forgiven only if there is another course that meets that requirement. Subsequent change of program forgiveness requests can only be made after a minimum of four calendar years between requests.

The D and F” grades will remain on your college transcript but will no longer count in the calculation of your GPA. The adjusted GPA will be used for determining your academic standing to include suspension, probation, good standing, honors and Deans’ List. All D grade courses already used for a degree, certificate or diploma cannot be forgiven. You may apply for academic forgiveness only after completing a minimum of 12 credits with a GPA of 2.0 or higher for all courses taken after the absence or after the change of program.

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Where do I find out about financial aid?
Students can find out about financial aid at the campus Financial Aid office.