Jul 25, 2024  
2024-2025 Catalog 
2024-2025 Catalog

Understanding Academic Programs

Academic programs at CCAC are designed to prepare students to either seek immediate employment or continue with their education at a four-year college or university.

CCAC offers certificates and diplomas that provide focused coursework in a specific career field. Most of the certificate and diploma programs are designed for students with little or no experience in the field, but a few certificates in health and the social/behavioral sciences provide additional skills and credentials for people already working in a given career.

Many degrees build on certificate and diploma programs with general education courses, providing students with associate degrees and opening up a wide range of personal and employment opportunities.

Many other students begin their academic careers at CCAC with the intention of transferring to earn a four-year degree. Those students can enroll in one of the CCAC transfer programs if a four-year transfer college has not been identified and follow the curriculum as outlined or work with one of the counselors to identify a specific four-year college’s curriculum.

Many of CCAC’s programs have been aligned with the curriculum at four-year colleges through articulation agreements. As of January 2014, CCAC has articulation agreements with 34 local and national colleges and universities for 163 programs. Several more agreements are being reviewed. CCAC encourages students to work with counselors as early as possible to explore these agreements as a path to a four-year degree.

Agreement details can be found on the CCAC website at Articulation Agreements .

Program Explanation

Programs at the Community College of Allegheny County provide instruction in general education and specialized knowledge.

Basic Skills

Effective college learning requires competency in reading, writing, speaking, listening, mathematics, reasoning and study skills. Computer literacy is recommended as well. Part of each program at the college develops these skills.

General Education

Sometimes called distribution requirements, each Community College of Allegheny County program contains a number of courses that introduce the student to a common core of knowledge.

Specialized Knowledge

Called the program core and electives in the college program, a number of courses provide knowledge and skills for the student’s particular educational goal, whether the student decides to continue education at a four-year school, to seek employment after graduation or to pursue both goals.

This distribution of required college courses determines whether the program selected leads to an Associate of Arts or Associate of Science degree.

Degrees Awarded

The Community College of Allegheny County 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 the student to continue education at another college. Students should work with a CCAC counselor and the transfer institution when selecting a degree path at the college.

Associate of Arts degrees require more than twice as many courses in social science, English and mathematics as the Associate of Science degree. Generally, this means that the student is building a broader base of knowledge and intends to pursue more specialized instruction after transferring to a four-year college.

Associate of Science/Associate of Applied Science degrees require many more courses in the area of specialized knowledge. Generally, the student intends to work in a chosen field immediately after graduation or enter a field of study that requires specialized preparation before beginning studies at a four-year college.

Associate Degree

Associate of Arts and Associate of Science degrees include specific coursework along with a core of general education courses. Associate degrees require at least 60 credits and take 15–24 months of full-time study. Students who plan to enter full-time employment after attending CCAC should select a career program from among those listed under the following areas: arts & humanities; business; education, social & behavioral sciences & human services; health; science, technology, engineering & mathematics; and trades. The program chosen will determine the required courses taken at CCAC. With the knowledge and skills from these courses, after graduation students are better able to enter the workforce.

A well-developed educational plan is an important first step toward transfer to a four-year institution. Students planning to continue at a four-year college or university should begin working with a counselor. The university parallel and transfer programs prepare students for college studies beyond the associate degree. Programs indicated by the keystone logo are designed to transfer seamlessly to Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) institutions as well as a few private institutions.

Counselors can provide information about the colleges and universities that have formal articulation agreements with CCAC to make transfer easier. To review these agreements, go to ccac.edu/articulation.

All degree programs share a common core of general distribution education courses. These courses satisfy the basic requirements of many degree programs. In some cases, degree programs can be changed during the first year of study without losing any credit toward graduation for the courses completed.


Certificates and diplomas provide intensive training in a specialized field. Credit values of the certificates and diplomas vary, but many can be finished in one year if a student attends fulltime. Credits earned in the certificate and diploma programs often can be used in earning an Associate degree in the same field. Certificate and diploma programs improve chances for early employment and allow the student to continue studies as a part-time student to complete the degree requirement while working.

Many of the programs at CCAC have a certificate/diploma option. A diploma is awarded for programs with fewer than 16 credits and can be completed in as little as one or two terms. A certificate normally ranges from 16 to 48 credits. Most certificates are designed to be completed in one year of full-time study (longer for part-time students). Some may require more credits and take more than one year, based on the program and industry requirements. The credits that students earn to receive a diploma or certificate can often be used toward an associate degree. Many certificate and diploma programs also appeal to students with previous degrees who wish to acquire new employment skills.

Students in many programs are eligible for employer sponsorship. In this process, the employer arranges tuition billings through the college or tuition reimbursement after grades are available for professional development or enhancement of work-related skills. Many courses are scheduled in the evening hours to allow students to continue their education and work at the same time.

Earning a Four-year Degree at CCAC

CCAC and Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP) have developed collaborative degree programs in Business Management. All IUP classes are taught on a CCAC campus. CCAC is also exploring collaborative programs with other four-year institutions. For more information go to ccac.edu/articulation.

More information is available by contacting the Admissions office, the Registration and Advisement office or the Transfer office at any of the four campuses.

Elements Of A Program

The individual courses required for any degree program are listed in the program section of this catalog.

Core Courses

These courses come from the program core requirements, general education requirements and other disciplines. Generally, they should be completed in sequence so the student will be prepared for advanced courses.

Restricted Electives

These courses may be made up of both program core courses and general education courses. On occasion, the specific program will include courses from other disciplines which are meant to complement program core courses. They are classified as electives because the student will have a choice of two or more courses or two or more groups of courses from which to select. If a student is planning transfer to a four-year college or university, it is important that the student consult with a counselor and the other college’s catalog.

General Electives

Programs may require a minimum number of general elective credits. The student may select these courses by referring to the section of the catalog called “Description of Courses.”


Some programs offer different Specializations (also called Tracks or Concentrations). The student will select one or more specializations when beginning a program.
See Programs with Specializations  for a listing of these programs.

Degree Requirements for Graduation

All three of the associate degrees (AA, AS and AAS) require that the student earn a minimum of 60 credits, satisfy all the stated requirements of their program and have a cumulative GPA of 2.00 or higher. (See Limitations on Sources of Credits for Graduation .)

Electives to Meet Degree Requirements

All college programs require the student to enroll in courses that are called electives. Electives broaden a college education and deepen the student’s understanding of a specific area of activity while fulfilling the specifics of a program. Electives should be chosen with the help of an academic advisor or a counselor. Examples of electives that fulfill program or general education electives are:

Credit courses offered by the college can be considered an elective, subject to the following restrictions:

  • A course can count toward graduation only when the student has satisfied the prerequisites for that course.
  • A course can only count once toward graduation and must satisfy some elective with the student’s program.
  • Electives may consist of courses transferred from another accredited college or university or advanced standing credits earned through USAFI, CLEP or Advanced Placement Tests (AP) of the College Entrance Examination Board or other nationally recognized examinations approved by the college.

For more information go to ccac.edu/Advanced-Placement.

What to Expect From Your Educational Plan

College graduates should have an awareness of the world around them as well as general knowledge and skills in specific areas. The CCAC learning environment is designed to provide students with experiences necessary to explore critical areas of knowledge. Some of these areas are listed below.

  • The Arts: The arts (art, dance, music and theatre) engage the imagination, foster new ideas, help develop discipline and build self-confidence.
  • Computer Competency: Computer literacy is an important tool for acquiring and organizing knowledge and for problem solving.
  • English: Competence in English helps individuals communicate attitudes and ideas while expanding thoughts and imagination.
  • Foreign Language: The study of a foreign language promotes greater awareness of cultural variety and improves communication with people from other countries.
  • History: Knowledge of the past provides a basis for understanding our present and making assumptions about the future.
  • The Humanities: Humanities promote an understanding of societal values and an appreciation of their expression through art, language, literature, music, philosophy, speech and theatre.
  • Mathematics: Mathematics is the indispensable language of science, technology, business and finance. Students need a knowledge of algebra, geometry and functions to succeed in most fields.
  • The Sciences: College students must study the sciences in order to function effectively in a society shaped by rapid technological change.
  • The Social Sciences: Problem solving requires the analytical skills learned in the social sciences. Preparation in anthropology, economics, geography, history, political science, psychology and sociology helps individuals function more effectively on a personal level and in our modern technological society.

Program Requirements

Each student at the college is required to declare a program of study. All degree and certificate programs are published in the college catalog and on the college website. If a student is not interested in a specific program of study, the following program should be declared:

If… Select program…
Student is unsure of program selection or wishes to obtain a generalized degree “089-GENERAL-STUDY-AS”
Student is taking classes at CCAC specifically to transfer to their home college or university “001-NON-CCAC-STUD”
Student is taking course(s) for personal enrichment and is not pursuing a degree or certificate program “800-NON-DEGREE”

A student will declare a program when completing the Application for Admission to CCAC. When a program is declared, the student will be responsible for meeting the requirements outlined by the catalog at the time of application or change of program. The advisor and student will plan the academic program based on the requirements of that catalog. It is recommended that the student meet regularly with the advisor to review progress towards the degree or certificate. If a student is receiving financial aid, the Financial Aid staff will confirm that the selected program is eligible for financial aid. Additionally, a student on financial aid will be required to make satisfactory academic progress in the selected program within a specified time frame to remain eligible for financial aid. Program requirements for limited enrollment programs will be enforced as of the catalog term when the student is accepted into the program.

A student may change his/her program of study in consultation with an academic advisor. If changed before the end of the add period for the term, the new program will be effective for the current term. Otherwise, the new program will be effective for the following term.

Academic programs may be updated at any time by the department to meet changing industry practices, licensing requirements or technology changes. If a student returns to the college after a break in attendance (one full year or more), the student must change his/her program to follow the current requirements. Continuing students can follow the requirements in place at the time of their declaration of the program.

If the college discontinues a program completely, students currently assigned to the program will be allowed to complete the requirements of the degree or certificate. This option will remain in force for continually enrolled students for the duration of time expected for the program (normally two years for an associate degree or one year for a certificate).

Basic Skills and General Education Core   Basic Skills & General Education Core
Associate of Arts Minimum Credits   Associate of Science Minimum Credits
English Composition 6   English Composition 6
English Electives 6   Humanities 3
Humanities 6   Mathematics 3
Mathematics 3   Science 3
Science 3   Social Science 3
Mathematics or Science 3   Computer Skills  
Social Science 3   Program Core and Electives 42
Computer Skills1        
Program Core and Electives 21   Total Minimum Credits Required2 60
Total Minimum Credits Required2 60      

1 The Community College of Allegheny County recommends that all graduates be computer literate in their field of study. Academic advisors and program faculty can outline the various options for developing computer literacy.

2 Specific courses and credits required in each program are outlined on the appropriate program page. All courses should be chosen in consultation with an academic advisor, and students can consult the “Course Descriptions—Course Description Explanations” section of the catalog for courses that satisfy each category.

Workforce Development

A variety of workforce development training solutions are offered through the college to strengthen regional workforce investment through the growth of skilled labor training, business development and grant writing efforts.

Through CCAC’s Workforce Development Division, current employees who need to maintain or upgrade their knowledge base can access individual learning opportunities at a variety of locations, with multiple courses available online. Corporations, local agencies and non-profit organizations can gain customized, cost-effective training sessions offered on-site in that organization’s facility.

Attorneys, accountants, real estate agents, human resource specialists and insurance professionals can access required professional continuing education credits through the college, an accredited course provider. Regional safety providers, from EMTs to firefighters and others, can be trained or recertified through a large variety of available programs. Local and regional healthcare organizations can access staff training and preparation for board exams at their locations.

The Community College of Allegheny County’s Workforce Development Division, through a US Department of Labor Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) grant, is offering training programs in Advanced Manufacturing to build a Mechatronics Career Pathway. In addition, the R.K. Mellon/Renewable Energy Grant is a Workforce Development initiative dedicated to growing the college’s involvement in the region as the green/energy training education provider of choice growing partnerships with local unions as well as regional leaders in the conservation movement. Go to ccac.edu/workforce for more information about Workforce Development.

Community Services (Community Training & Development)

Community Services seminars, workshops and courses are offered to meet the needs of individuals and groups in the communities throughout the region. Some offerings are designed to increase the skills of municipal employees, employees who work or volunteer in nonprofit agencies, the effectiveness of board members of nonprofit and/or employees of public agencies. Others teach skills to persons who are physically, cognitively and emotionally challenged and to those who assist persons with challenges. Still other offerings are designed for adults re-entering the workplace or for senior citizens. The college cooperates with other educational institutions and other organizations in Allegheny County as it designs and offers these programs. For more information about Community Services, go to ccac.edu/workforce/workforce-community-training/index.php.

Vocational Programs With Learning Supports

The Vocational Education Department at North Campus offers training programs to equip adults with cognitive disabilities with the skills in occupational areas to obtain and maintain service related jobs in the Western Pennsylvania region. These include:

  • Environmental Services/Janitorial
  • Food Service
  • Indoor/Outdoor Building Maintenance*
  • Health Care Technician/Resident Aide*
  • Nursing Assistant*

     *Offered at both North and South campuses

Students receive classroom training and hands-on skills in practical work experience environments. Teachers work closely with the students in the classroom and provide them with onsite support at work experience sites. Personal skill development is emphasized relating to dress, grooming, attitude, attendance and getting along with fellow workers.

Students need to have the ability to maintain a learned routine and follow verbal or written directions. In addition, comprehensive employment skills are taught, which include resume development, job search linkage, application preparation, interviewing skills and preparation for the state competency exam if required in the program of study.

Graduates of these programs will find realistic employment that matches their skills. Find more information, go to Community Training & Development at ccac.edu/workforce/workforce-community-training/index.php