Meet the degrees

What is a degree?

A degree is an award given based on the completion of a series of requirements. You get your degree when you graduate from college. Earning a degree shows future employers that you have skills, can make decisions, and can complete goals. There are several types of degrees including:

  • Associate degrees: offered by PCC, often called two-year degrees because you can earn them after completing two years of college. Depending on your situation, it may take you longer than two years (for example, if you attend part-time).
  • Bachelor’s degrees: also known as baccalaureate or 4-year degrees. These are granted by a universities and 4-year colleges.
  • Master’s degrees: also called a post-graduate degree because you go on to get one after you have graduated with a bachelor’s degree. Master’s degree programs are typically an additional two years on top of your bachelor’s. They usually require some level of student teaching, conducting research, and writing a thesis paper.
  • Doctorate degrees: also known as a Ph.D.  This is another type of post-graduate degree. It requires several more years of study and research.

What is a certificate?

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. PCC offers many different certificate programs that take one year or less to complete. Explore PCC certificates.

What is a major?

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 PCC  programs.

PCC degrees

PCC offers five types of associate degrees. Some are designed specifically for transferring to a 4-year school, others are designed to lead directly to employment and may not be transferable, or may only be transferrable under special circumstances.

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.

See the PCC degrees page for more in-depth information and degree requirements.

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 at least two hours studying outside of class. Some science and math classes require even more!
  • General education: Each school has a unique name that they use to refer to General Education requirements. For example, Oregon State University refers to its General Education requirements as Baccalaureate Core. Portland State uses the term University Studies and the 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: A university that receives funding from the state is a public university. 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.