What is the Meaning of a California Community College Degree?

Educational Policies Committee

The Associate Degree has been subjected to numerous demands and external pressures and, as a result, has evolved somewhat independently at each California community college to meet local needs. Most colleges in the system have developed Associate Degrees based on completion of a general education curriculum. However, current Title 5 language limits the award of the Associate Degree to programs of study which include in-depth study in a specific field. Colleges are not consistent in the application of the titles Associate of Arts and Associate of Science to degree awards. This creates confusion within and outside of the system as to the meaning of the various Associate degrees. This paper reviews these two topics in depth, providing a discussion of the benefits and possible ramifications of changes to Title 5 and the establishment of a uniform application of titles to degrees. The value of the Associate Degree is reviewed and emphasized. The paper concludes with a recommendation calling for the creation of a task force that will develop formal proposals to address these and other issues related to the Associate Degree for future consideration by the Academic Senate.


  1. The Academic Senate form a task force with the participation of various constituent groups to consider a wide range of options for the Associate Degree and recommend as needed appropriate changes to Education Code and Title 5 Regulations.
  2. The convened task force should recommend changes that would result in a more uniform use of language and titles throughout the state, particularly in the use of AA and AS degree titles and the use of fields of study.
  3. The convened task force should consider the requirement of a minimum GPA for all courses taken in a major.