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General Education Requirements

Credentials: Degree, Certificate and Diploma Explanations

CCAC offers a number of different degrees. All of our degree programs have three required components: basic skills, general education and specialized knowledge. There is also a a set of general distribution requirements. (Individual programs may have more specific requirements; see our list of academic programs for more detail).

The courses that count towards your degree come in three types: required courses, restricted electives and general electives. In addition to degrees, CCAC offers diplomas and certificates and options for concentration within your program of study.

Degrees Awarded at CCAC

CCAC offers the Associate of Arts, Associate of Science and Associate of Applied Science degrees.

Both the Associate of Arts and Associate of Science degrees can prepare you to continue your education at another college. Most four-year colleges and universities do not accept the Associate of Applied Science as a transfer degree, unless a specific articulation agreement exists. All degree programs at the Community College of Allegheny County require the completion of a minimum of 60 credits of course work distributed according to individual requirements.

  • The Associate of Arts degree requires more than twice as many courses in General Education as the Associate of Science degree. Generally, this means that you are building a broader base of knowledge, and intend to pursue more specialized instruction after you transfer to a four-year college.
  • The Associate of Science degree requires many more courses in your area of specialized knowledge. Generally, you intend either to work in your chosen field after graduation or to enter a field of study at a four-year college that requires specialized preparation.
  • The Associate of Applied Science degree is a specialized technical degree currently only awarded in Administrative Assistant and Culinary Arts.

General Education Requirements

Associate of Science

Associate of Arts

Basic Skills & General Education Core
Basic Skills & General Education Core
English Composition 6 English Composition 6
    English Electives 6
Humanities 3 Humanities 6
Mathematics 3 Mathematics 3
Science 3 Science 3
    Mathematics or Science 3
Social Science 3 Social Science 12
Computer Skills * Computer Skills *
Program Core and Electives 42 Program Core and Electives 21
Total Minimum Credits Required** 60 Total Minimum Credits Required** 60

*The Community College recommends that all graduates be computer literate in their field of study. Your academic advisor and program faculty can outline the various options for developing computer literacy.

**Specific courses and credits required in your program are outlined on the appropriate program page. All courses should be chosen in consultation with your academic advisor.

Declaring a Program of Study

As a student at the College, you will be required to declare a program of study. If you are not sure of your program, or you are enrolling to take a course to transfer to another college or university, a program category of "unknown" or "non-CCAC student" will be assigned by the College.

When a program of study is declared, you will be responsible for meeting the program's requirements. Please note that there are certain programs for which requirements may change because of current technology or practices. When such changes occur, all new students in the program and all students who re-enroll in the program after an extended absence must follow the new requirements.

Some programs are designed to allow you to select an area of concentration. These areas of concentration are called program options. As you work towards an Associate of Science in Theatre, for example, you may have a concentration in Acting, Technical Theatre or Dance.

What makes up a degree?

The distribution of your courses among the following three areas determines whether the program you have selected leads to an Associate of Arts, Associate of Science or Associate of Applied Science degree.

  • Basic Skills: Effective college learning requires competency in reading, writing, speaking, listening, mathematics, reasoning and study skills. Computer literacy is also recommended, and is required by many programs. Each program at CCAC develops these skills.

  • General Education: Sometimes called distribution requirements, every CCAC program contains a number of courses that introduce you to a common core of knowledge.

  • Specialized Knowledge: The program core and program electives are courses that provide knowledge and skills for your particular educational goals, whether you decide to continue your education at a four-year school, to seek employment after graduation or to pursue both paths.

Types of Courses in a Program

For every program there are different kinds of courses you need to take in order to earn that degree.

  • Required Courses: These courses come from the program core requirements, general education requirements and other disciplines. Generally, they should be completed in sequence so that you will be adequately prepared for more advanced courses. In some cases, courses completed without the necessary prerequisites do not count towards graduation.
  • Restricted Electives: These courses may be made up of both program core courses and general education courses. On occasion, a specific program will include courses from other disciplines. These are meant to compliment the program's core courses. They are classified as electives because you will have a choice of two or more courses or groups of courses from which to select. If you are planning on transferring to a four-year college or university, consult with your academic advisor and the other college's catalog.
  • General Electives: These courses are sometimes called unspecified electives. Your program may require a minimum number of general elective credits.