Chapter 8: College Majors and Training Programs

College Majors and Training Programs

Now that you have researched careers which interest you, let’s take a look at what it will take for you to get there.  In this chapter we will be looking at what  educational requirements are needed for the careers that interest you.

Did you know that Mt Hood Community College, as well as other colleges, offer a variety of degrees?  How long are you willing to attend college?  Do you want to go part-time or full time?  You will need to decide early on which degree you want to complete and at what pace.  This will determine clearly what courses you need to take and when.

Associate and Bachelor degrees

First, let’s talk about associate’s degrees and  bachelor’s degrees.  What’s the difference?

An Associate’s degree is typically called a two-year degree, and a Bachelor’s degree is typically called a four-year degree.  Well, that’s not totally true because most students take longer to complete any degree! People are busy, run out of money, move, find new jobs, and drop in and out of school.

So when you hear two or four year degree, don’t think you are locked into those time frames.  You will decide how long you want to take to get your degree.  But plan on several years in college at least if you want to make more than minimum wage in the future.

You may have noticed that the classes you take here at Mt. Hood Community College (MHCC) are numbered between 100 – 299, generally.  100 and 200 level classes are called lower division classes and often correlate with freshman and sophomore status. These are the classes required for an associate’s degree.

A bachelor’s degree requires higher level classes (class numbers of 300 – 499 and are considered junior and senior level classes) and may eventually lead to higher level professional jobs and careers.  For those of you who want a master’s degree, you will first need to complete your bachelor’s degree.  Many community college students will get a “transfer” degree and then move to the university to get their bachelor’s degree.

Below is a general introduction to this topic.  You will also find links to specific information below as well.

Associate Degrees and Certificates

Community colleges offer associate degrees and certificates.

Let’s take a look at the different types of associate degrees first. Associate degrees typically fall into one of two camps: career technical degrees and transfer degrees.

Career Technical Degrees. The Associate of Applied Science degree (AAS) typically is for students who want to attend school for a couple of years, get some intensive job training, and then head to work.  Mt. Hood Community College has dozens of these programs, such as nursing, graphic design, physical therapy assistant, or computer information systems. Again, the AAS degree is designed to give you the information, training, and skills you need to get an entry level job in that field. In these programs, you get a little general education and a LOT of training in one career.  Community colleges specialize in these programs, and do a great job.

How do you get into these programs? Be aware that some of our Career/Technical degrees require you to apply to them directly.  These programs are called either Restricted Entry programs or Limited Entry programs and require that you take specific classes before you can apply (these are called prerequisites).  If the program you are interested does not say that it is limited or restricted, then it is open entry – meaning you can change your major to that program without completing an application for it.

Transfer Degrees. The Associate of Arts Oregon Transfer (AAOT) and the Associate of Science (AS) degrees are different from the AAS and are considered transfer degrees. All associate degrees require a minimum of 90 credits; however, a “transfer” degree is for people who are ultimately interested in earning a bachelor’s degree.  These students attend community college for a couple of years and focus mostly on completing the lower division (freshman and sophomore level) general education classes required for a bachelor’s degree.

You will notice that at Mt. Hood Community College, there are several AS transfer tracks.  For instance, there is a specific track for students who know that want to transfer to a bachelor’s degree program in engineering, biology, computer science, business, liberal arts, and music.

However, these two “tracks” are not necessarily exclusive of each other.  If you get a career technical degree (AAS degree) and then try to transfer to a university, you may have to take extra courses.  However, colleges are doing a good job these days of creating “articulation” agreements that allow students to more smoothly transition from a vocationally-oriented program into a university degree. You will want to speak with faculty advisors in the career technical programs to make sure you know if/how your degree transfers.

For example, you could get an associate’s degree in mental health, social service & addiction counseling at MHCC (an AAS degree), work for a while, and then transfer later to PSU and get a Bachelor’s degree in social work because they have an agreement to allow this.  One degree can help lead you to the next, although how sooth the transition is depends on the specific degree and whether articulation agreements are in place.

Another new development is that universities occasionally offer a BA degree right on the MHCC campus!  This allows students to stay in the same place and take university level classes!  For example, Eastern Oregon University offers two BA degrees right on campus at MHCC, so you don’t have to travel to LaGrande, Oregon!  You will want to ask about all these options as you do your research and move forward.

Certificates and Short-Term Job Training. Maybe you don’t want to go to college a long time and just need training for a job.  You may interested in one of the College’s Career Pathways Certificates.  Check it out!

Perhaps you want to know more about Apprenticeships– Check it out!

Or maybe a certificate is all you need.  The college offers 6, 9 and 12 month certificates in various programs.  For example, you could pursue a one-year certificate to be a Medical Office Customer Service Representative.


Links to Mt. Hood Community College Programs and Information

Types of associate degrees at MHCC.

MHCC’s complete Program Listing.

Know you want to transfer to a university?  Here are our Transfer Guides.

Interested in a career technical program?  Check out our Career and Technical Programs.

Reflection Questions

This chapter contains a lot of information to absorb. This reflection is designed to help you do some targeted thinking and research about your next steps

  • Which degree or certificate  are you leaning towards (i.e. AAS, AAOT, AGS, etc.) and in what program of study  (i.e. Engineering, Respiratory Therapy, Graphic Design)?
  • Discuss how long you are willing to stay in school, why you are leaning in this direction, and what you are still puzzled, concerned, or curious about.
  • If MHCC doesn’t have the program you want, for example radiology or veterinary technician, you might check the PCCClackamasClark,and PSU catalogs.

Chapter Activity: College Program Report

The purpose of this activity is to:

  • Help you make an academic choice that will support your long term career goal
  • Learn how to investigate, in detail, college programs
    • Is the program open, limited, or restricted entry?
    • What, if any, are the pre-requisite classes?
    • Is there a strict class schedule that you must adhere to or is there flexibility in the schedule?

Complete research on one or more college programs (major) in which you are interested in completing.  Investigate:

  • MHCC programs (certificate or degree programs, transfer or career technical education programs)
  • Other college or university programs (i.e. PCC, Clark, Clackamas, PSU, OSU, University of Oregon, or other schools in your area)

Conduct your research (see #4 below for specific information to research):

  • Read and print, if you wish, information from college websites
  • Talk to staff or faculty who may be available to answer questions.
  • Use the many links above to conduct your research.

Write a paper of at least 500 words (two doubled spaced pages) following these instructions:

  • PART I: Program description in detail:
    1. What is the goal of the program (degree/certificate/job placement?).  To what job or career is it designed to lead?
    2. Is this an open, limited, or restricted entry program?
      1. What, if any, are the requirements to be admitted, including course prerequisites?
      2. If limited or restricted, what date will applications be accepted?
      3. What term does the program begin?
    3. What is the suggested, or required, length of the program and courses or training topics that will be covered?
    4. What is the approximate cost of this program?  (calculate estimated amount of tuition and fees plus books).
    5. Include links in your paper to the web information about this program online
  • PART II: Reflect on how this program may or may not meet your needs:
    • Discuss how this program fit with your career goals.
    • If the program is limited or restricted entry, what is your plan to complete the prerequisite classes? AND, by what date would you plan to submit your application?
    • Does the program provide flexibility in determining your own pace or hours?
    • What excites you about this program?
    • What fears or concerns do you have? What is your plan to overcome these fears/concerns?
  • PART III: What additional information do you need to make a decision on whether this program is a good fit for you?  Are there other programs you want to investigate?  How would you go about getting that information and when?

NOTE: Do NOT copy and paste information directly from a website (i.e. do not plagiarize).  This is a college report and is expected to be written by you.  Please make sure to cite the sources you reference.



Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

Career & Life Planning by Dawn Forrester and Eden Isenstein is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

Share This Book