Differences between an Associate Degree and Certificate
SMC offers the Associate Degree which requires a minimum of
60 degree applicable units and generally takes approximately two to three years
to complete. A unit reflects the amount of credit earned for completing a
course. It is closely related to the number of hours that the class meets
Students desiring a shorter program of study focusing on a
specific discipline may pursue a Certificate of Achievement or Department
Certificate. In general, Certificate programs require students to take
courses specific to a major but eliminates the general education courses.
Students earning Certificates of Achievement are eligible to apply for Optional
Practical Training. Please check with a counselor which Certificates apply for
OPT. A list of Associate Degrees majors and Certificates can be found in
the SMC Catalog.
Degree and Certificate Requirements
There are basically three types of courses that make up the
Associate degree requirements; general education, major and elective
courses. General education courses are the foundation courses that
consist of a variety of disciplines in the arts, humanities, social science,
science, math and English. All students take general education regardless
of their major. The second type of courses is the major courses that
specifically relate to a student’s chosen discipline. The third type of
courses is elective courses which are basically courses of self-interest that
students select themselves. To view the general education and major
requirements for the Associate Degrees go to SMC
Associate Degrees and SMC
General Education links. Elective courses for the Associate degree
consists of courses other than those considered basic skills.
Associate Degrees to Transfer (ADT)
Santa Monica College currently offers 15 Associate Degrees
for Transfer to CSU. Additional majors are being developed. The Associate
in Arts for Transfer (AA-T) and Associate in Science for Transfer (AS-T)
degrees are designed to facilitate transfer admission to a CSU in a similar
major. To view the Associate degrees to transfer and major requirements go to SMC
Use of Foreign Course Work
Courses from an appropriately accredited foreign university
may be applied towards the Associate degree at SMC. The courses must first
be evaluated by an off-campus approved credential evaluation agency and then
reviewed by our Admissions Office for applicability towards general education
and elective units. Courses related to a student’s major will be reviewed
by the academic department chairpersons based on course syllabi or
outlines. Students should consult with an international counselor before
applying for a credential evaluation.
Can I study at SMC even if I have a Bachelor’s Degree?
Yes, SMC does accept students who have a Bachelor’s degree
from their country as long as SMC has a program to meet their needs. Some
transfer schools, however, will not admit students with a recognized Bachelor’s
degree. These students may be advised to consider applying for a Master’s
degree at the university. Students with foreign degrees need to discuss
their transfer options directly with the four-year universities to which they
plan to transfer. SMC is unable to advise the student on how their degree
or foreign course work will be used by the universities.
What are the maximum number of units I can take each
F-1 visa students are required to complete a minimum of 12
units each fall and spring semester to maintain lawful status. A maximum of
16 units is allowed without special approval from an academic counselor.
Attendance in summer and winter sessions is not required for lawful status,
however, students choosing to enroll for these sessions may take a maximum of 8
units since they are intensive, short-term classes. Students who are on
academic probation are limited to 12 units each semester.
When do I apply for graduation?
Upon completing the course requirements for the
Associate Degree or Certificate, students need to petition for graduation
during their final semester when all requirements will be met. Graduation
petition forms are available at the Admissions Office and must be submitted to the
Admissions Office by the established deadlines. Students who are eligible to
graduate are invited to participate in the yearly Graduation Commencement
ceremony held in June.
Students are not required to attend the ceremony to receive
their Associate degree but it is recommended that students take advantage of
this recognition ceremony. Graduation takes place on the last day of each
spring semester. Students wear the traditional cap and gown and are
honored for their accomplishments.