"Associate degree" means a state-approved lower division undergraduate award issued by a community college that indicates satisfactory completion of a course of study approved by the community college board. OAR 589-006-0050 (2)
The Oregon Legislature and the Higher Education Coordinating Commission (HECC) have approved Oregon community colleges to offer associate degrees. While the state has established basic criteria for associate degrees, additional requirements may be applied by the local community college board of directors. Any additional requirements must be in accordance with the Oregon Higher Education Coordinating Commission rules, policy and standards and the accreditation requirements of the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (http://www.nwccu.org/index.htm).
Students may use elective courses within the transfer degrees to focus on specific undergraduate program requirements necessary for entrance into a particular postsecondary institution.
Requirements for All Degrees
- At least 90 and no more than 108 credits; a recognizable core of general education courses and/or related instruction; and
- An established standard of academic achievement (e.g., grade point average); and meeting or exceeding the local community college board of education program approval standards; and meeting or exceeding the Higher Education Coordinating Commission program approval standards and criteria; and
- Courses must be collegiate level if used to fulfill a requirement in the associate degree, option or certificate of completion.
General education introduces students to the content and methodology of the major areas of knowledge - the humanities and fine arts, the natural sciences, mathematics, and the social sciences - and helps to develop the critical skills that will make them more effective learners. General education may be taught in different ways using curricula or requirements that focus on content and methodology, or student learning outcomes. General education requirements should be collaboratively developed by faculty, instructional administrative staff, and college trustees, and the expected student learning outcomes should be related to the institution’s vision, mission and goals.
Programs of study for which applied or specialized associate degrees are granted, or programs of an academic year or more in length for which certificates are granted, must contain a recognizable body of instruction in program-related areas of 1) communication, 2) computation, and 3) human relations. Additional topics which should be covered as appropriate include safety, industrial safety, and environmental awareness. Instruction in the related instructional areas may be either embedded within the program curriculum or taught in blocks of specialized instruction. Each approach, however, must have clearly identified content that is pertinent to the general program of study.
From OAR 589-006-0050 (14): "Collegiate-level work" means course and program content that provides skills and information beyond that which is normally gained before or during the secondary level. It is characterized by analysis, synthesis and application in which students demonstrate an integration of skills and critical thinking. It is a term that denotes more than college or university transfer courses. It also includes Career Technical Education and other courses that exceed basic skills, workplace readiness and fundamental basic skills. Courses must be collegiate-level if used to fulfill a requirement in an associate degree, option or certificate of completion program.
All courses contained in all associate degree programs must be collegiate level if they are used to fulfill a credit requirement for an associate degree award (i.e., 90 credit minimum). This rule also applies to minimum credit requirements for AAS degree Options and Certificates of Completion.
Collegiate-level work provides the acquisition of knowledge and skills beyond what is normally gained before or during the secondary school level. It is characterized by analysis, synthesis and applications in which students demonstrate an integration of skills and critical thinking. Community colleges should be acquainted with the Oregon content standards (Standards by Design) for secondary students. Collegiate-level courses exceed these standards.
Other requirements for completing associate degrees are determined by the local community college board of directors in accordance with Oregon Administrative Rules (OARs), Higher Education Coordinating Commission (HECC) policies and standards, and the accreditation requirements of the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).
- Office of Community College and Workforce Development: OAR 589
- Higher Education Coordinating Commission: OAR 715
- Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities: https://www.nwccu.org/
Students may use electives within degrees to focus on meeting specific career objectives, undergraduate program requirements or for entrance into a particular postsecondary institution. The transfer of electives may be dependent on the space for additional courses available in the baccalaureate degree program design.
Lower Division Collegiate (LDC) Courses
The Higher Education Coordinating Commission (HECC) administers Lower Division Collegiate courses. For the purposes of this rule, "Lower Division Collegiate" (LDC) is defined as areas of instruction, including a representative range of academic and professional fields, which parallel the offerings of the first two years of the four-year institutions, carry regular college transfer credit, and based on current articulation agreements between the Office of Community Colleges and Workforce Development (CCWD) and the Higher Education Coordinating Commission (HECC), are generally accepted for transfer credit by higher education institutions.
Standards for course approval include:
- Course offers content present or acceptable in the first two years of instruction at four-year higher education institutions.
- Courses are designed to assure satisfactory articulation and transferability to Oregon public 4-year institutions.
The Office of Community Colleges and Workforce Development is the review/approval office for Lower Division Collegiate courses.
Career and Technical Education (CTE) Courses
Career and technical education (CTE) courses are defined as the collegiate level occupational preparatory or occupational supplementary courses that are designed to prepare persons for entrance into and employment stability and advancement in specific occupations or clusters of closely related occupations. Career Technical education courses include both occupational preparatory and occupational supplementary courses.
CTE courses are approved by the Higher Education Coordinating Commission or their designee, either through an individual course approval process or as an integral component of the curriculum for a state approved Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree, AAS degree option, or Certificate of Completion program. OAR 589-006-0050