Types of Degrees and Certificates

Take a look at some of the different types of Certificates and Degrees available.


Apprenticeship training is on-the-job training in high demand jobs. An apprenticeship is a paid job and includes classroom lessons to ensure mastery of all aspects of the job. To learn the skills needed, the apprentice is trained by journeymen and master craftsmen who are experts in their field. For more information on apprenticeship opportunities, go to apprenticeship.mt.gov.

Certificate of Technical Studies (CTS):

The certificate of technical studies programs are intended to prepare an individual for an occupational work area by focusing on developing the unique skill-set required for that position. These programs may allow students to qualify for a new job, achieve a promotion, explore a new career, or provide documented/credentialed study in a specific field or area of expertise. These programs are less than 30 credits, have little or no general education credits, and may be completed in 1-2 semesters and may lead to a CAS or AAS degree.

Certificate of Applied Science (CAS):

The certificate of applied science is a short program of study designed to prepare the student for entry-level employment in a specific career. The CAS is comprised of 30 - 45 credits with limited general education. Students should be able to complete the CAS in one calendar year or less, if they are academically prepared in math and writing.

Associate of Arts (AA) / Associate of Science (AS):

The associate of arts and associate of science degrees prepare the student to transfer to an upper division bachelor’s degree program. The AA gives emphasis to those majoring in the arts, humanities, social sciences, and similar areas. The AS gives emphasis to those majoring in agriculture, engineering and technology, and the sciences with substantial requirements in math and sciences. Approximately 1/2 of the work required will be in general education. This degree does not officially include a major or minor course of study.

Associate of Applied Science (AAS):

The associate of applied science degree is designed to lead the individual directly to employment in a specific career. In general, approximately 1/3 of the work will be in general education. The AAS is comprised of 60 - 72 credits and students should be able to complete the program in about two academic years, if they are academically prepared in math and writing.

Although all credits must be accepted in transfer as electives, the AAS degree is not designed for students who want to transfer.  Students should not expect to apply their AAS coursework to meet the requirements of a bachelor’s degree, with one exception.  That exception is that some four-year campuses in the Montana University System offer a four-year, Bachelor of Applied Science degree that applies most, or all, of the Associate of Applied Science credits as the first two years of coursework for this “upside down” bachelor's degree; these programs build general education course requirements into the third and fourth year of study.  

Bachelor Degree:

The bachelor degree is awarded after completion of undergraduate course work usually taking eight semesters and 120 credits to complete. Course work for the bachelor degree is done at the undergraduate level and is made up of general studies and major specific classes.


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