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What Are the Different Types of Community College Programs?

By G. Wiesen
Updated May 17, 2024
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There are many different types of community college programs, with regard to both the subject areas available and the results of such programs. Community colleges typically offer programs in many of the same subjects available at universities, including language, mathematics, physical sciences, psychology, and even art and theater. Many of the community college programs available are intended to help a student receive a two-year degree, such as an associate’s degree, in a particular field. Other programs may be designed to provide extensive background or prerequisite classes for transfer to another school or university, without actually culminating in a degree.

Community college programs are usually designed to meet the needs of students who may not have the time or inclination for classes at a major college or university. The subjects offered by community colleges can vary quite a bit, depending on the resources available to the college and the interests of the students at that school. Most community colleges offer classes in basic or popular courses such as science, math, language, psychology, and communications. Some community college programs can also be developed for more specific needs, such as courses in nursing, or provide liberal arts programs in subjects such as music, art, and drama.

The intended purpose of most community college programs is typically to help students receive a two-year degree or to help them prepare for ongoing education. A two-year degree is usually an associate’s degree in a particular field, which may be sufficient for work in some environments or can be used to pursue further education. Nursing students, for example, can often become a licensed practical nurse (LPN) with one or two years of education, while many technical fields can be entered into with an associate’s degree. An associate’s degree earned in one of these community college programs can also be used to transfer to another school as the first two years of a four-year degree program.

These transfer credits are often a major consideration in many community college programs. Most of the classes offered at a community college are typically lower level classes that can be used as prerequisites for higher classes at a college or university. These courses are often less expensive at a community college, and allow students to more easily pay for their first two years of a degree. While some community college programs are designed to allow individual classes to transfer to another university, it is often easier to transfer an entire degree, such as an associate’s degree.

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