The flexibility and options within the higher education system in the U.S. can be both exhilarating and confusing.

Educational goals are often tied to a particular level of completion and the corresponding certificate or degree.  Not sure what’s what in that realm?  Read on!

Occupational Skills Award (OSA) Prepares you for immediate employment or adds to your marketability to employers. Awarded upon successful completion of at least 9 and not more than 14 semester credit hours in a particular technical area like welding, machining, and computer information systems and technology among others. Typically requires 1 semester to complete. Best for students who want to enter the workforce after completing the program or to enhance skills in their field.  Level 1 Certificate Prepares you for occupational employment in fields like Agriculture Management, Business Management, Criminal Justice, and Engineering Technology among others. Awarded upon successful completion of at least 15 and no more than 42 semester credit hours in specific courses that have been industry validated and sequenced for the purpose of developing and upgrading skills in an occupation. Normally requires 1 year to complete. Exempt from the requirements of the Texas Success Initiative (TSI). For students who want to enter the workforce after completing the program.  Associate Degree Typically require 2 years (60 hours) of full-time study at a community college. NCTC offers 4 types of Associate Degrees. Associate of Applied Science Degree (A.A.S.) Prepares you for a career in a workforce field. For students who want to begin a career after completing the program or who want knowledge in a specific technical field. AAS graduates from NCTC can transfer all of their credit hours earned to several universities in Texas to earn a Bachelor’s of Applied Science (BAAS) degree. Associate of Arts Degree (A.A.) Provides a liberal arts foundation that does not generally include a declared major. For students whowant to earn a degree that fulfills core curriculum/basics to transfer to a 4-year college or university Associate of Arts in Teaching Degree (A.A.T.) Provides a first step towards a career in teaching. For students whowant to transfer into a teacher education program at a 4-year college or university. Associate of Science Degree (A.S.) Fulfills lower division course requirements and includes a major in a science, an engineering specialization or a related discipline. For students whowant to earn a degree in a science or engineering discipline that transfers to a 4-year college or university. Bachelor’s Degrees Typically requires 4 years of full-time study beyond high school at a 4-year college or university. All Bachelor’s degrees are also called undergraduate degrees. Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences (BAAS) Provides an education based on a combination of formal education and work-related training and experience. For students who want more opportunities to be hands on with their learning. Many programs give credit for military training and prior work experience.  Bachelor of Arts Degree (B.A.) Provides a liberal arts education in fields such as languages, music, communication, and history among others. For students whowant to more theoretical knowledge and is ideal for those who plan to pursue a Master’s or Doctoral degree in the same field. Bachelor of Science Degree (B.S.) Provides an education in the sciences including computer science, engineering, and health sciences among others. For students who want a more technical orientation in their studies including lab work and practical experience.


We end here, but higher education options don’t end with the Bachelor’s degrees.  A Master’s degree is the step beyond a Bachelor’s degree and the Doctorate is further still.  The internet makes it relatively easy to learn more about Master’s and Doctorate degree options.

Regardless of what degree you’re seeking, NCTC can help you get started on the right path.  Check out a list of the programs we offer on pages 14 and 15 of this edition of CareerFocus with more information available at  Empower Your Potential at NCTC!