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Types of Degrees and Certificates

Transfer Degrees

Transfer degrees let you begin work on your bachelor's degree and then transfer to a four-year university. Be sure to work with a transfer advisor both at your community college and at the four-year institution you plan to attend.

Learn tips for transferring to a university.

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When you earn a two-year Associate of Arts Direct Transfer Agreement degree, you can transfer to any public university in Washington state as a junior, with virtually all your general education credits fulfilled. Many independent colleges also accept these degrees.

These degrees are often abbreviated as AA-DTA. (The DTA stands for Direct Transfer Agreement.)

Some colleges call it the Associate of Arts and Sciences Direct Transfer Agreement (AAS-DTA).

This is Washington's most popular and most flexible transfer degree.

Do you want to major in engineering or science at a university? With this two-year degree, you'll complete many of the math and science-related prerequisites before you transfer, setting you up for success. You can transfer to any public university in Washington state as a junior. Many private colleges also accept these degrees.

There are two degree tracks:

  • Track 1 is for science students who wish to focus on biological and environmental/resource sciences, geology and earth science or chemistry.
  • Track 2 is for students who wish to focus on engineering, computer science, physics or atmospheric science.

Be sure to work with your advisor to check the requirements for the specific major at the university you plan to attend.

Some transfer degrees help prepare students for a particular major, like business or nursing. These are called "Major-Related Programs" and are sometimes abbreviated DTA/MRP.

If you earn this type of two-year degree, you can transfer as a junior only if the community or technical college has an agreement with the university.

Work with your advisor to see if your college has an MRP agreement with the university you want to attend.

Professional-Technical Certificates and Degrees

Professional-technical certificates and degrees train students for specific fields — like nursing, computer science or advanced manufacturing — so they can go straight to work. The degrees do not transfer to four-year universities. (An exception is the Associate in Applied Science-Transfer degree, which transfers only if the university has an agreement with the specific community or technical college.)

Certificates  provide you with a set of skills to find a job or stay current in your profession. Some examples are CAD/drafting, web design and medical assisting. Certificates typically last six months to one year.

Many certificates are designed to build on top of each other and eventually lead to a longer-term certificate or degree. These are  called "stackable" certificates.

The Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree is a two-year degree for students who want to start a career immediately after graduation. Examples include accounting, marketing, business technology, nursing, computer science and advanced manufacturing.

These degrees do not transfer to a university.

Associate of Applied Science-Transfer (AAS-T) degrees are two-year, job-training degrees. They prepare students for immediate employment.

These degrees transfer only to:

  • Applied baccalaureate degrees at community or technical colleges.
  • Universities that have an agreement with the community or technical college issuing the degree.

Check with your advisor to make sure this is the right path for your transfer goals. 

Some people get a non-transfer, professional-technical degree at a community or technical college and later decide they'd like to pursue a bachelor's degree. Many community colleges now offer applied bachelor's degrees so these students don't have to start from scratch at a university. Instead, students can take two more years of upper-level coursework at the community or technical college to earn a four-year degree. With more and more employers requiring bachelor's degrees, this option gives people another path to a four-year degree.

  • BAS stands for Bachelor of Applied Science.
  • BSN stands for Bachelor of Science in Nursing.
  • BAT stands for Bachelor of Applied Technology.

What is Applied Science?

An "applied science" degree prepares students to start a career right after graduation (for example, in automotive technology, nursing or advanced manufacturing). The word "science" does not necessarily mean that the program is related to a field of science like geography or biology.

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Last Modified: 1/20/21, 3:33 PM

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