California Community Colleges may award associate degrees to students based on the philosophy and requirements for the degrees in Title 5 § 55061-55063. Associate degrees should be more than an accumulation of any degree applicable courses and must contain a minimum of 60 degree applicable units, which include general education units, at least 18 units in the major or area of emphasis, and electives. Colleges may award either an Associate in Arts or an Associate in Science degree. The Academic Senate has defined the Associate in Science (AS) to include all science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines and career technical education (CTE) fields. The Associate in Arts (AA) is defined for degrees earned in all other areas.
Local academic senates and governing boards may agree on additional requirements for students earning an associate degree, such as requirements in physical education, global citizenry, or information competency. Only the Associate in Arts for transfer (AA-T) or Associate in Science for transfer (AS-T) degrees are prohibited from any local graduation requirements. The AA-T and AS-T degrees require other compliance measures as well.
Each college provides its own goals and outcomes for students earning associate degrees. Faculty must ascertain the value of the degree for students and the community as students pursue and earn these degrees and use them to transfer or compete for jobs. Academic senates are responsible for the creation and approval of degrees at the college, and this task may be assigned to the local curriculum committee. Degrees are reviewed on a regular cycle through the local program review processes.