Portland Community College | Portland, Oregon

What is a degree?

A degree is the award you receive when you graduate from college. Earning a degree shows future employers that you have skills, can make decisions, and complete goals. There are many types of degrees. To earn a certain degree, you take a series of specific classes. Educators design these series of classes to give you a first-rate education in a specific area.

Related terms:

Associate degrees

This is the type of degree that PCC offers. Associate degrees are often called two-year degrees because you can earn it after completing two years of college. Depending on your situation, it may take you longer than two years - that's okay.

Other degrees

There are other degrees that take longer to earn than associate degrees.  There are bachelor's degrees (also known as baccalaureate or four-year degrees).  After earning a bachelor's degree, you can go on to earn a master's degree and then a doctorate degree (also known as a PhD).

Certificates

Certificates often take less time to earn than degrees. Certificates prepare you to get a job immediately after graduating.  Some certificates are stepping stones to earning associate degrees.  Explore certificates PCC offers.

Majors

Your major is the specialized subject you're studying. For example, you might hear someone say they are earning an associate in marketing.  Associate is the degree, marketing is the major.  Your major is sometimes called your program of study. Explore programs PCC offers.

PCC degrees

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Technical degrees

What you'll learn: specific skills for your future job. Choose from majors like Welding or Multimedia.
Where you'll go: you'll go right to work in your industry.

state of oregon

Oregon transfer degrees

What you'll learn: a solid foundation in subjects like writing, mathematics, and science.
Where you'll go: you'll transfer to a school in the Oregon University System.

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Flexible degrees

What you'll learn: it's up to you!
Where you'll go: with planning, these degrees can give you a good start before transferring to a four-year university. You'll need to work with an advisor to choose your classes.

Anatomy of a degree

Each degree has its own set of rules about which classes you need to take. Schools call these rules "degree requirements" and they will be a big part of how you choose your college classes. All PCC degrees include at least 90 credits of classes. All PCC degrees include classes in writing, math, and general education.

toolbox briefcase

Associate of Applied Science

25%

general education, writing, and math

75%

program requirements
technical classes specific to your career

25%:
general education, writing, and math
75%:
program requirements (technical classes specific to your career)

state of oregon

Associate of Arts Oregon Transfer

70%

general education, writing, math, health, and PE

30%

student choice (choose from transfer classes)

70%:
general education, writing, math, health, and PE
30%:
student choice (choose from transfer classes)

state of oregon

Associate of Science Oregon Transfer in Business

70%

general education, writing, and math

25%

program requirements
business classes

5%
70%:
general education, writing, and math
25%:
program requirements (business classes)
5%:
student choice

student choice


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Associate of Science

35%

general education, writing, and math

65%

student choice
choose from transfer classes

35%:
general education, writing, and math
65%:
student choice (choose from transfer classes)

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Associate of General Studies

25%

general education, writing, and math

75%

student choice
choose from transfer classes or technical classes

25%:
general education, writing, and math
75%:
student choice (choose from transfer classes or technical classes)

College lingo

Credits 
Credit indicates each hour spent in class. For example, if you are taking 12 credits, plan to spend 12 hours in class every week. For every hour spent in class, plan to spend two hours studying outside of class.
General education
Each school has a unique name that they use to refer to General Education requirements. For example, Oregon State University refers to their General Education requirements as Baccalaureate Core. Portland State uses the term University Studies and University of Oregon has Group Requirements. General Education requirements usually consist of a set number of classes in the subject areas of Arts and Letters, Social Science, and Math and Science. Each school has different requirements with a minimum number of credits.
Oregon public university 
An Oregon university that receives funding from the state. Examples include PSU and U of O. These differ from private schools, which are sponsored by organizations rather than the state. See a list of Oregon Public Universities.