FAQ - Associate Degree

The following questions are designed to provide a general guide to understanding requirements pertaining to the BC Associate Degree. Policies and practices may change from time to time and institutions have discretion in the interpretation of the requirements. Where there is a conflict between the answers provided below and the policies at a particular institution, the institutional policies shall apply.

1. How many courses will I need to take to complete an associate degree?

You will be required to complete 60 credits which is approximately twenty courses in a credit based system (one course = 3 credits).

Top

2. How long will it take me to complete an associate degree?

If you study full-time, you should be able to complete the associate degree within two academic years (based on 15 credits per term for 4 terms).

Top

3. Can university transfer courses in areas outside of Arts and Science count towards an Associate of Arts or Science Degree?

Yes, a limited number of courses in outside Arts and Science can count towards the associate degree. The Associate of Arts degree allows up to a maximum of 9 credits of "Other" courses, while the Associate of Science degree allows up to 6 credits of "Other" courses. See Associate Degree Requirements for more details.

Top

4. Can Math courses count towards satisfying the Arts requirements for the Associate of Science degree? Likewise, are courses in Geography considered Arts courses or Science courses?

In some instances it may be unclear whether a course is an Arts course or a Science course. Therefore those determinations are left up to the institution granting the associate degree. Normally, courses in Human Geography are designated as Arts courses whereas courses in Physical Geography or Mathematics are designated as Science courses. You should check the regulations at your particular institution.

Top

5. Can a third or fourth year course count towards completing the requirements for an associate degree?

The associate degree is designed to include first and second year courses considered to be foundational to further studies in the major program and upper divisions. It is not intended to include third and fourth year courses, although it is recognized that, in exceptional circumstances, some students may want or need to include such a course in order to complete their program. It is up to the institution conferring the associate degree to be satisfied that the third and fourth year courses would be accepted for appropriate credit by one or more of SFU, UBC (Vancouver or Okanagan Campus), UNBC and UVic.

Top

6. Can a course that transfers as equivalent to a third-year course at one of the universities count towards completing the requirements for an associate degree?

Yes, it can count towards completing the requirement of "a minimum of 18 credits in Arts at the second year level" for the Associate of Arts degree because a second year course is defined as a course that has assigned or unassigned transfer credit at the 200-level or higher level at SFU or UBC (Vancouver or Okanagan Campus) or UNBC or UVic. Likewise, it can count towards meeting the Associate of Science degree requirement of "a minimum of 18 credits in Science at the second year level".

Top

7. How do I know if a university transfer course in History is a Social Science course or a Humanities course?

Courses in Humanities (including the Creative & Performing Arts) normally refer to those taken in disciplines such as French, German (or other languages), English, Creative Writing, Film, Theatre, Music, Philosophy, Religious Studies, and Visual Arts. Courses in Social Sciences normally refer to those taken in disciplines such as Anthropology, Criminology, Economics, Geography (courses in Physical Geography are often classified as a Science), Linguistics, Political Science, Psychology, and Sociology. Courses in disciplines such as History or Women’s Studies may be classified as either Social Science or Humanities. Institutions are authorized to make this determination, so check how specific courses are defined by your institution.

Top

8. Can Communications courses satisfy the requirement of "6 credits of first-year English" for the associate degree?

Yes, providing the courses in Communications transfer as English credit. A course is defined not by what it is named at the sending institution but rather by the subject for which it is granted transfer credit at a university. For example, Communications 145 (3 credits) at Capilano University transfers to UVic as unassigned 100 level English credit (1.5 units). Therefore, it is considered an English course and can count towards meeting the English requirement for the Associate Degree.

Top

9. Can courses which transferred as a block towards a university degree (e.g. a certificate or diploma) count towards satisfying the requirements of the associate degree?

As long as the individual courses also receive either assigned or unassigned transfer credit at SFU or UBC (Vancouver or Okanagan Campus) or UNBC or UVic.

Top

10. I took several university transfer courses many years ago. Will they still count towards meeting the requirements for an associate degree?

That depends. Many institutions consider that knowledge acquired more than ten years ago may no longer be current, so they may not grant credit for "stale-dated" courses. Courses in rapidly evolving fields such as information technology may have an even shorter shelf life. Check with your institution regarding their policy.

Top

11. What is a laboratory science?

The requirements for an associate degree define a laboratory science as "one in which a substantial component of student instruction involves the study of natural phenomena, either in the laboratory or in the field." Many science courses in biology, chemistry, physics, geology, etc. include a laboratory component. Each institution granting the associate degree has the authority to determine which of its courses can satisfy this requirement.

Top

12. If I take a computing science lab course, will it count towards meeting the laboratory science requirement?

Probably not. BCCAT has reviewed this question in consultation with the Computing Science Articulation Committee and has recommended to institutions that computing science lab courses not be acceptable for fulfilling the laboratory science requirement. You should check the regulations at your particular institution.

Top

13. Can I complete an associate degree by taking courses at multiple institutions?

Yes, you can accumulate credits at more than one institution and have them count towards an associate degree as long as you meet all the requirements of the credential. Keep in mind most institutions have a residency requirement, which means you must take a certain percentage of your coursework (often 25% or 50%) from the institution granting the degree.

Top

14. If I complete more than the 60 credits, will all of my credits be counted when the institution calculates my GPA to see if I meet the minimum 2.00 GPA requirement?

No. The institution granting the associate degree would normally calculate the GPA based on just the 60 credits used to fulfill the requirements. However, if your GPA is close to a 2.0, you should confirm institutional policies to ensure precisely how your GPA will be calculated.

Top

15. Are there advantages to taking an associate degree if I plan to get a bachelor ’s degree anyway?

Yes. The associate degree is designed with two main purposes in mind. One is to provide a solid foundation for further study. The other is to provide an experience that prepares you for work, citizenship and an enriched life as an educated person. Even if you don’t transfer into a degree program, having obtained an associate degree can prove useful when you seek employment.

In addition, many institutions will guarantee 60 transfer credits for your completed associate degree even if all the courses you took towards the degree don’t transfer individually to that institution. For more information, read Transferring with an Associate Degree.

Top

16. What courses should I choose for my associate degree if I also plan to complete a bachelor ’s degree?

If you plan to complete a bachelor’s degree in a specific field of study at a particular institution, you should try to select courses that will satisfy the requirements for both degrees. You are strongly encouraged to read calendar requirements, review the BC Transfer Guide, and consult with an academic advisor at your current institution. You should confirm whether or not a specific set of courses that you plan to complete will meet the requirements for an associate degree as well as the specific first and second-year requirements for the bachelor’s degree. Also check in advance with the institution to which you wish to transfer, to confirm their current admissions and transfer policies.

Top

17. Will I be guaranteed admission to a university that offers priority admission on the basis of my completed associate degree?

No, you are not guaranteed admission to universities that have priority admission for associate degree holders. However, the likelihood of being admitted is increased. If you have an associate degree you will be given priority admission over transfer students who do not have an associate degree. You are strongly advised to check the admissions policy of the institution to which you would like to transfer, and to find out if there are additional criteria you must meet for specific program areas. A minimum Associate Degree GPA may be required.

Top

18. Does priority admission to a university mean that I will have priority admission to a particular program or faculty at that institution?

No. These policies only provide priority admission to the institution, not to any particular department, program or faculty which may have additional selection criteria. Programs may have additional specific prerequisite courses which must be completed in order to be considered for admission.

Top

19. Does having a completed associate degree from a BC post-secondary institution grant me priority admission to institutions outside of BC?

No. These policies apply only to those institutions in the BC Transfer System.

Top