Jul 14, 2024  
2020-2021 Catalog 
2020-2021 Catalog [ARCHIVED 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 Program 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).

Any student who does not attend CCAC for two years is welcome to return to the college, but must follow the requirements for the program version of the current catalog.

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.


Education at the Community College of Allegheny County begins with the instructor in the classroom or online. Rules and procedures for developing a productive academic partnership with the instructor are detailed in the “Academic Rules & Regulations ” section of the catalog.

CCAC has a talented and creative faculty interested in teaching students who desire to learn. Of the 243 full-time faculty, approximately 82 percent have a master’s degree or higher in their field. Many others have additional certifications and licenses in specialty areas and continue to develop their professional skills through workshops, seminars, college coursework and related work place experiences. The college’s talented adjunct faculty, selected from qualified, local professionals, display high levels of expertise in the subjects they teach.

Courses & Schedules

Each term, the classes being offered are listed in the credit course magazine published three times per year and on ccac.edu. Course descriptions are listed in the catalog and through program pages on the CCAC website and through “Search for Sections” on CCAC Central. Descriptions include course alphacodes and numbers (the course identifier), titles, credits, class hours and any pre- or corequisite instruction required. The credit schedule assigns each class a section identifying specific campus or center location, dates, times, room and instructor for the class. Because students have different learning styles and learn best when a variety of teaching methods are used to present information in the classroom, CCAC delivers instruction in a variety of ways. For more information, go to Course Catalog Search.

For most of the courses listed in the catalog, teaching techniques include lectures, labs, discussion, student and media presentations, self-paced or computer-assisted instruction, online instruction and field trips. These techniques are noted in the course descriptions.

What is Prerequisite and Corequisite Instruction?

• Prerequisite Instruction: Many courses at the college require prerequisites. Prerequisites provide the skills and knowledge needed to begin a course and are listed with each course description. A prerequisite may be a high school course, a course or courses at the college or other equivalent educational experiences. If students are uncertain whether they have the skill and knowledge to enroll in a course, they should contact an academic advisor.
• Corequisite Instruction: Two or more courses that should be taken at the same time are corequisites. You learn information in each class that will help you in the other.

Lecture Classes

For lecture classes, the college awards one college credit for every 15 hours in class in a term. In a 16-week fall or spring term, a three-credit course meets three hours a week. Meetings are prorated for shorter sessions.

Laboratory Classes

Some classes, especially those in the sciences and technologies, provide laboratory experiences and demonstrations. In laboratory classes there is a high degree of “hands-on” experience to help students learn course material. Labs are listed in the course descriptions.

Credits assigned to laboratory classes vary. The college awards one credit for every 30 to 45 class hours in a term. In a 16-week fall or spring term, a one-credit laboratory meets two to three hours a week.

Studio & Activity Classes

Some classes, especially those in the arts and physical education, provide students the time, setting and materials to practice a skill under the guidance of a professional. Activity classes are described in the catalog. Credits assigned to these studio or activity experiences vary. The college awards one credit for every 25 class hours in a term. In a 16-week fall or spring term, a three-credit class meets five hours a week. This schedule may vary during the term depending upon the nature of the activity.

Open Laboratories

The college provides computer facilities, learning assistance centers and in some cases, mathematics, reading and writing laboratories at each campus. Open laboratories do not provide organized instruction but add to classroom instruction. Depending upon the availability of facilities, open laboratory hours can be arranged to fit individual student schedules. These activities, which may be required, receive no college credit.

Clinical, Externship, Fieldwork or Practicum Experiences

Many programs at the college require students to have hands-on work experience. These practical experiences are usually scheduled during the fall and spring terms although some programs also require summer assignments. All clinical, externship, fieldwork and practicum experiences are offered at college-approved sites. For these clinical and practicum experiences, the college awards one credit for every 60 hours in a term. In a 16-week fall or spring term, a one-credit clinical or practicum experience may require four hours each week. Scheduling may not be regular, and hours may be less or more than a 16-week term.

All Health Career programs, as well as many Education, Social and Behavioral Sciences and Human Services programs and Computer Information Technology programs at CCAC, also provide students with the opportunity to gain experience in a health care or appropriate program-related facility as early as the first term in a program. The college has cooperative arrangements with most local health care facilities where students practice skills learned in the classroom and laboratory under the direction of professionals. For more information, go to ccac.edu/job-placement/cooperative-education.php.

Independent Study

Independent study allows students to explore academic topics not available in existing CCAC or Pittsburgh Council of Higher Education (PCHE) curricula. Independent study is an enrichment experience designed to meet the individual academic interests of students. Independent study cannot be used to take/replace any existing course currently offered by CCAC and listed in the current college catalog. Independent study must be a free elective that cannot be substituted for any required course. Permission of the dean of Academic Affairs is required for the faculty to enter into an independent study contract with the student. An independent study contract describing the course of study and assessment/evaluation procedures must be filed with the academic dean by the end of the first week of classes. The student must register for the independent study course.

Independent study courses are identified by the 300 series of course numbers. Only six credits of independent study may be applied toward an associate degree and three credits of independent study toward a certificate or diploma. Students are advised that, while independent study courses count toward their program degrees or certificate completion at CCAC, often these independent study courses may not be accepted as credit for transfer to other institutions of higher education.

Career Programs

For students who plan to enter full-time employment directly after graduation, CCAC’s career programs provide clinical, cooperative education and apprenticeship experiences as well as classroom instruction. Credits earned in many of these programs are transferable to four-year institutions. To see the programs offered at CCAC, refer to the “Program Explanation” section in this catalog.

Honors Program

The CCAC Honors Program unites academically outstanding students and faculty in the pursuit of academic excellence and fosters the development of scholarship, communication and leadership skills in the students. Students earn Honors credits through Honors-designated courses and/or Honors-by-contract with a faculty mentor in a regular course in which they complete an enrichment project of their own design, following guidelines set by their mentor.

Honors students further enhance their academic experience through participation in Honors cultural activities and by attending regional and national Honors conferences. Other benefits include notation of Honors course credits on academic transcripts, Honors scholarship money in the form of in-county tuition reimbursement for Honors courses (if students are not fully funded from another source), the opportunity to compete for four all-tuition Leadership in Honors Scholarships for returning Honors students, and wearing Honors cords at graduation. Honors students earning 15 or more Honors credits are awarded an Honors degree and wear an Honors medallion at graduation.

To qualify for the Honors Program, applicants must be enrolled in an associate degree program and be eligible for college-level English Composition 1 (ENG 101 ) and Algebra Fundamentals (MAT 090 ) or above, either by placing directly into them through the CCAC placement tests or by completing required developmental courses in English, developmental studies, and mathematics. In addition, applicants must meet eligibility criteria based on their status: Current CCAC or transfer students must have nine credits of college-level coursework and an institutional GPA of 3.50 or higher (transfer students must submit a postsecondary transcript with their application). Students with GPAs between a 3.25 and 3.49 may make a special application with a letter of recommendation from a CCAC faculty member and an interview with the campus Honors coordinator. High school students must meet two of the following criteria:

  • have a high school GPA of 3.50 or higher;
  • be in the top 10 percent of their high school graduating class;
  • have an SAT score of 1180 or greater or have an ACT score of 26 or greater; or
  • be a member of the National Honor Society (high school applicants must submit a high school transcript with their application).

To remain in good standing in the program, Honors students must maintain an institutional GPA of 3.00, earn a minimum of three credits in Honors each academic year and participate in Honors activities. For more information, go to ccac.edu/honors.

ACT 48

CCAC is an approved provider of credit-level Act 48 courses in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Educators wishing to take CCAC courses for Act 48 should check their course selection with their school district. Educators who are not currently teaching for a specific school district should contact the school district in which they live for recommendations on Act 48 coursework. When registering at CCAC, the educators should identify their interest in Act 48. CCAC will code their registration for reporting to the Commonwealth at the end of the term. Act 48 students can review course offerings at ccac.edu/48.

Cooperative Education Program

The Cooperative Education program enables students in specific majors to gain academic credit for work experience by applying classroom instruction directly to related work activities. Through cooperative education, students gain experience in the latest techniques, procedures and equipment used in business, industry and the public sector.

Close coordination and supervision by the college ensures that the co-op program becomes a viable learning opportunity. Academic credit awarded depends on the number of hours worked, the number of credits needed and the academic major.

To qualify for the Cooperative Education program, students must have completed at least 30 credits with at least 12 credits in their major field, maintained at least a 2.50 GPA and attend the college the semester before beginning the program. Additional departmental requirements may apply. No student may enroll in cooperative education programs without formal faculty approval. Interested students should register on the CCAC Job Placement Central Job Bank at www.collegecentral.com/ccac and apply for admission at least one term before enrolling in the program.

Students approved need to register and pay for Cooperative Education credits. Internships, not for credit, are also available. Interested students can contact the director of Job Placement and Career Services on their campus to initiate the process. For more information go to ccac.edu/job-placement/cooperative-education.php.

Community Education

Community Education programs offer wide-ranging and accessible courses for personal and professional enrichment and problem solving at home and at work. Students may enroll individually or through businesses, community groups or professional organizations. Classes are offered at convenient times on weekdays and weekends at a variety of Allegheny County locations. For more information, go to ccac.edu/community-education/.

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