Degree and Certificate Options

Degree and Certificate Options

Houston Community College offers the following awards to students once they have chosen their career paths and completed all necessary course and residency requirements.

Associate of Arts--AA Degree
This degree prepares students for academic transfer to a public university or college in Texas as a junior for those who declare a major in the liberal or fine arts. The degree includes 42 hours of the core curriculum and 18 hours of transferable course electives.

Associate of Arts in Teaching--AAT Degree
This degree prepares students for academic transfer to a public university or college in Texas as a junior with a specific teaching major as Early Childhood-Grade 6 or Grades 4-8 Generalist. The degree includes 42 hours of the core curriculum and 18 hours in courses related to teaching.

Associate of Science—AS Degree
This degree prepares students for academic transfer to a public university or college in Texas as a junior for those who declare a major in the sciences, as math, engineering, biology, chemistry, and others. The degree includes 42 hours of the core curriculum and 18 hours of transferable course electives relevant to the student’s career path.

Associate of Applied Science—AAS Degree
This degree is specifically for students seeking technical career skills for work in a specific field or industry. The emphasis is on practical and applied skills, but does include 15 hours of general education core classes. It is primarily designed for work, not transfer, although general education core classes will transfer.

Certificates—Level One and Level Two
Certificates in a specialized career field will help a student gain skills for job advancement. Most certificates are designed to be stackable (Level One to Level Two) to help a student complete an AAS degree if so desired.

Marketable Skills Award—MSA
An MSA award prepares a student to enter a high-demand career field with minimal training.

Enhanced Skills Certificate
The certificate is pursued simultaneously with an AAS degree and offers a specialization in a career field with targeted training.

Advanced Skills Certificate
After the student completes an Associate or Bachelor’s degree, the advanced skills certificate provides specialized career field training.

Degree and Certificate Requirements for Graduation

Houston Community College offers various degrees and courses to serve the needs of its individual students. Students interested in academic transfer degrees (AA, AS, and AAT) may study courses and earn degrees that will transfer to four year universities, while students interested in pursuing work or advancing in their workplace skills may earn AAS degrees or Certificates that enhance employability. In addition, HCC also offers continuing education courses to enhance lifelong learning.
Students should work with an advisor at the beginning to help identify their program of study, take courses in the prescribed sequence or pathway, and choose their elective credits based on any transfer plans of their intended four year university. Before the final semester, the student should again work with their advisor to assure that all requirements are met in order to file for graduation. In general, working closely with an advisor will create the seamless path to completion.

Core Curriculum
The core curriculum is designed to provide students with the foundational knowledge and transferable skills that are needed for future careers and work in a technological and global society. In addition, the core curriculum helps individual students to develop personal skills of critical thinking, communication, empirical and quantitative reasoning, teamwork, personal responsibility, and social responsibility. Core educated individuals are guided by a strong sense of values, ethics, and civic engagement. The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board approved a 42 semester credit hour (SCH) core curriculum for all undergraduate students in Texas which was implemented in fall of 2014 for all public colleges and universities offering academic degrees. It included the following statements of purpose, the six core objectives, and the foundational component areas.
Statement of Purpose
Through the core curriculum, students will gain a foundation of knowledge of human cultures and the physical and natural world, develop principles of personal and social responsibility for living in a diverse world, and advance intellectual and practical skills that are essential for all learning.

Core Objectives

  • Critical Thinking Skills—to include creative thinking, innovation, inquiry, and analysis, evaluation and synthesis of information
  • Communication Skills—to include effective development, interpretation and expression of ideas through written, oral and visual communication
  • Empirical and Quantitative Skills—to include the manipulation and analysis of numerical date or observable facts resulting in informed conclusions.
  • Teamwork—to include the ability to consider different points of view and to work effectively with others to support a shared purpose or goal.
  • Personal Responsibility—to include the ability to connect choices, actions, and consequences to ethical decision-making.
  • Social Responsibility—to include intercultural competence, knowledge of civic responsibility, and the ability to engage effectively in regional, national, and global communities.

Foundational Component Areas

  • Communication –(6 SCH) Courses in this category focus on developing ideas and expressing them clearly, considering the effect of the message, fostering understanding, and building the skills needed to communicate persuasively. Courses involve the command of oral, aural, written and visual literacy skills that enable people to exchange messages appropriate to the subject, occasion, and audience.
  • Mathematics—(3 SCH) Courses in this category focus on quantitative literacy in logic, patterns and relationships. Courses involve the understanding of key mathematical concepts and the application of appropriate qualitative tools to everyday experience.
  • Life and Physical Sciences—(6 SCH) Courses in this category focus on describing, explaining and predicting natural phenomena using the scientific method. Courses involve the understanding of interactions among natural phenomena and the implications of scientific principles on the physical world and on human experiences.
  • Language, Philosophy & Culture—(3 SCH) Courses in this category focus on how ideas, values, beliefs, and other aspects of culture express and affect human experience. Courses involve the exploration of ideas that foster aesthetic and intellectual creation in order to understand the human condition across cultures.
  • Creative Arts—(3 SCH) Courses in this category focus on the appreciation and analysis of creative artifacts and works of the human imagination. Courses involve the synthesis and interpretation of artistic expression and enable critical, creative, and innovative communication about works of art.
  • American History—(6 SCH) Courses in this category focus on the consideration of past events and ideas relative to the United States, with the option of including Texas History for a portion of this component area. Courses involve the interaction among individuals, communities, states, the nation, and the world, considering how these interactions have contributed to the development of the United States and its global role.
  • Government/Political Science—(6 SCH) Courses in this category focus on consideration of the constitution of the United States and the constitutions of the states, with special emphasis on that of Texas. Courses involve the analysis of governmental institutions, political behavior, civic engagement, and their political and philosophical foundations.
  • Social and Behavioral Sciences—(3 SCH) Courses in this category focus on the application of empirical and scientific methods that contribute to the understanding of what makes us human. Courses involve the exploration of behavior and interactions among individuals and groups.
  • Component Area Option—(6 SCH)
  • A minimum of 3 SCH must meet the definition and corresponding Core Objectives specified in one of the foundation component areas;
  • As an option for up to 3 semester credit hours of the Component Area Option, an institution may select course(s) that (1) meet the definition specified for one or more of the foundational component areas and (2) includes a minimum of 3 core objectives, including Critical Thinking Skills, Communication Skills, and one of the remaining Core Objectives of the Institution’s choice.

General Associate Degree Requirements (for AA, AAT, and AS)
To be eligible for an Associate of Arts, Associate of Arts in Teaching, or an Associate of Science, a student must successfully

  1. Complete at least 60 hours, including 42 hours of core curriculum courses and 18 hours in the student’s area of major and intended transfer major; for the Associate of Science, the student needs 6 additional hours of math and four additional hours of natural science.
  2. Complete a t least 25% of the semester hours toward the degree in the Houston Community College System. These hours may not be satisfied by credit by exam.
  3. Have an overall 2.0 HCC grade point average.
  4. Satisfy TSI requirements.
  5. Resolve all financial obligations and return all college materials, including library books, to HCC prior to graduation.

General Associate of Applied Science Degree Requirements (AAS)
The Associate of Applied Science degree is designed for students who complete a college-level workforce education curriculum. The AAS degree prepares students for employment in a specific career, and the program pathway includes general education core requirements (15 hours) and specific applied or technical courses in the field.

AAS Requirements
To be eligible for an AAS degree, the student must successfully complete the following:

  • 60 semester hours of credit and the prescribed curriculum for the two-year career and technology education program.
  • omplete a minimum of 25% semester hours of credit toward the degree at HCC, 12 semester hours of which must be in the career and technology education program the student is pursuing. These hours may not be satisfied by Credit by Exam or Advanced Standing Credit.
  • Have an overall 2.0 HCC GPA.
  • Satisfy all TSI requirements.
  • Resolve all financial obligations and return all materials to HCC prior to graduation.
  • Multiple Associate of Applied Science degrees may be earned from HCC if all AAS program requirements are met, including earning at least 18 additional semester hours at HCC. Twelve of the hours must be earned in the major program of the additional degree.

The general education block for each program must contain a minimum of 15 college credit hours. These must be taken from the following categories:

  • Humanities/Fine Arts 3 SCH
  • Social/Behavioral Science 3 SCH
  • Math/Natural Science 3 SCH
  • General Education Electives 6 SCH

Certificate Programs and General Requirements
Houston Community College awards certificates upon completion of courses that have been industry-validated and designed to develop and upgrade the skills in a specific occupation. These programs vary in length and time based on Level One or Level Two. To be awarded a certificate, a student must do the following:

  • Fulfill all course requirements for the certificate, by completing 50% of the coursework at HCC.
  • Earn a GPA of 2.0 in all courses required for the certificate.
  • Apply for graduation before the announced deadline.
  • Students who are pursuing an Advanced Technical Certificate must complete a related associate or bachelor’s degree prior to enrollment.