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What is the difference between a degree, certificate, and a diploma?

Differences Between Degrees, Certificates and Diplomas

Certificate, diploma, and degree programs are all designed to provide entry-level employment training and are offered at all NC community colleges.

Certificate programs range from 12 to 18 semester hour credits and can usually be completed within one semester by a full-time student. Associate degree level courses within a certificate program may also be applied toward a diploma or an Associate in Applied Science degree.  Certificate programs typically require courses directly in the field of study.

Diploma programs range from 36 to 48 semester hour credits and can usually be completed by a full-time student within two semesters and one summer session. Associate degree level courses within a diploma program may also be applied toward an Associate in Applied Science degree.  Diploma programs typically require mostly courses in the field of study, along with a couple of general education core classes, for example English and Math.

Associate in Applied Science (AAS) programs range from 64 to 76 semester hour credits. A full-time student can typically complete one of these programs within two years. In addition to major course work, Associate in Applied Science degree programs require a minimum of 15 semester hour credits of general education. General education requirements include course work in communications, humanities/fine arts, social/behavioral sciences and natural sciences/mathematics. Certain courses in associate degree programs may be accepted by a four-year college or university for transfer credit in an associated field.

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Wilmington Campus
411 North Front Street
Wilmington, NC 28401

North Campus
4500 Blue Clay Road
Castle Hayne, NC 28429

Burgaw Center
100 East Industrial Drive
Burgaw, NC 28425

Hours of Operation
Monday-Friday: 8:00am to 5:00pm

Accessibility Services

Cape Fear Community College does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, religion, political affiliation or age.