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    Palo Alto College
  Jul 17, 2024
Palo Alto College Schedule/Catalog 2020-2021 
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Palo Alto College Schedule/Catalog 2020-2021 [Archived Catalog]

Degree Information

The colleges in the Alamo Colleges District confer Associate of Arts, Associate of Science, Associate of Arts in Teaching, and Associate of Applied Science degrees. Several levels of certificates are also available. For any degree or certificate awarded, a student must earn at least 25% of the college-level credit hours required for graduation through instruction by the college in the Alamo Colleges District granting the award. The degree must be awarded by the college that offers the program.  Please see the Degree/Certificate Requirements  of the Graduation  section for additional requirements.

Transfer Programs - Associate of Arts, Associate of Science, Associate of Arts in Teaching Degrees

The Associate of Arts (AA), Associate of Science (AS), and Associate of Arts in Teaching (AAT) degrees are specifically designed for transfer as the equivalent of the first half of the Baccalaureate Degree requirements of most public colleges and universities. The Alamo Colleges District offers a broad range of educational opportunities for the student whose goal is to transfer to a four-year institution. Although each four-year school is different, students ensure the transferability of their courses by being active and responsible in the advisement process. By consulting the four-year institution regularly and taking advantage of the resources available at the colleges in the Alamo Colleges District, students will be reassured that the transfer process is a positive experience.

Students pursuing an AA or AS are encouraged to work closely with their advisor in the selection of their courses. Choosing a transfer institution before earning 30 hours of credit will do much to ensure that the courses taken at the colleges in the Alamo Colleges District will also apply to a baccalaureate program. There are articulation agreements for specific programs of study in place at the colleges that ensure transferability of undergraduate courses. Students may also choose to work with advisors to earn 60-hours required at a selected institution toward a specific degree and earn an AA or AS transfer degree. For students pursuing an AA or AS, it is strongly recommended that a specific transfer institution is chosen and courses are selected with that institution in mind, even if the baccalaureate program is not an immediate goal.

The Associate of Arts in Teaching (AAT) is for individuals who have a desire to enter the field of education as a teacher, school administrator, counselor, or other professional in education. Students are advised to continue toward their Baccalaureate of Arts Degree in Education at a four-year degree granting institution. The AAT degree is THECB-approved and is fully transferrable to all Texas public universities that offer applicable Baccalaureate Degrees leading to initial Texas teacher certification. Students should consult with an advisor and with the university to which they plan to transfer for additional information regarding specific content area concentrations.

Texas law authorizes the curricula in Field of Study areas that will transfer and count toward specific majors at all Texas public institutions when requirements are successfully completed. In all cases, to ensure ease of transfer, students are strongly encouraged to check with the university they plan to attend.

Core Curriculum for AA/AS/AAT Degrees

The core curriculum required for the transfer degrees represents a common experience in academic foundations and provides a basis for transferability within the Alamo Colleges District and among regionally accredited public Texas colleges and universities. Texas law mandates that the completed core at one institution will transfer and take the place of the core at the receiving institution. Therefore, it is advantageous for students to complete the core at the colleges since the core will transfer as a block of credit. A student may not be required to take additional core curriculum courses. In addition, the core is a substantial portion of the requirements for an associate degree, and with only 18 additional semester credit hours (approximately six courses), students will have completed an associate degree.

Students who transfer from the Alamo Colleges District to another college or university without completing the core curriculum receive academic credit for the receiving institution's core curriculum for each of the courses they have successfully completed in the foundational component areas. Once they have received credit for these courses, students may be required to satisfy the remaining core curriculum course requirements of the receiving institution.

The Texas Core Curriculum, implemented in Fall 2014, includes nine Foundational Component Areas: Communication; Mathematics; Life and Physical Sciences; Language, Philosophy and Culture; Creative Arts; American History; Government/Political Science; Social and Behavioral Sciences; and the Component Area Option. Through the Texas Core Curriculum, students will gain a foundation of knowledge of human cultures and the physical and natural world, develop principles of personal and social responsibility for living in a diverse world, and advance intellectual and practical skills that are essential for all learning. The Alamo Colleges District’s colleges have identified a set of courses within each component area, and each course is assigned a foundational component area number that is used by all Texas public institutions of higher education to assist in determining that the core has been met.

The colleges include in the core curriculum courses that meet the core objectives as outlined by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board:

  • Critical Thinking Skills - creative thinking, innovation, inquiry, and analysis, evaluation and synthesis of information
  • Communication Skills - effective development, interpretation and expression of ideas through written, oral and visual communication
  • Empirical and Quantitative Skills - manipulation and analysis of numerical data or observable facts resulting in informed conclusions
  • Teamwork - ability to consider different points of view and to work effectively with others to support a shared purpose or goal
  • Social Responsibility - intercultural competence, knowledge of civic responsibility, and the ability to engage effectively in regional, national, and global communities
  • Personal Responsibility - ability to connect choices, actions and consequences to ethical decision-making

Additionally, the colleges have identified Leadership as a core objective.

The core curriculum specifics are provided in the catalog for the student’s use in selecting the courses that align with any receiving institution’s requirements. Students should note their transfer university’s freshman and sophomore requirements, as core curriculum courses required in specific majors/pre-majors may satisfy both core curriculum and major requirements at the University.

AA and AS Transfer Degrees

The intent of the colleges in the Alamo Colleges District is to ensure each student’s courses count toward the baccalaureate degree sought at the selected transfer university. Students should work with an advisor and discipline lead to identify the specific courses required at the 4-year institution. Articulation agreements, Transfer Agreements, and 2+2 Agreements may be in place that specify the courses required for the first two years of a baccalaureate major. Sixty hours of college-level coursework are required for an associate degree. If students complete the entire first two (2) years of any such program with a minimum of 60 applicable degree hours, they will have satisfied the requirements for an associate degree. These hours of credit must include fifteen (15) hours in core curriculum areas as required by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), including at least one (1) course each in the following required areas of the Texas Core Curriculum: humanities/fine arts; social/behavioral sciences; and natural science/mathematics. The hours must also include the courses required by the Texas Higher Education Act as set forth in Subchapter F, section 51.301 and 51.302 (six [6] semester hours in U.S./Texas government and six [6] semester hours in U.S./Texas history). Students should work closely with an advisor to obtain information about existing agreements and specific transfer plan information.

Associate of Applied Science Degree

The Associate of Applied Science (AAS) Degrees and Certificates are designed for the purposes of job or career entry, career development and change, industry/business start-up development, and technical services to industry. Through a sequential delivery of program courses, students develop the necessary technical and professional workplace skills in preparation for entry-level positions. Each AAS or Certificate program provides the required skills for a specific career. For certain AAS programs, the colleges in the Alamo Colleges District may have established articulation and transfer agreements with specific universities. Contact an advisor for specific transfer information. Some courses identified in each program may be offered for continuing education units. Your advisor can provide additional information about continuing education units and how they might play a role in your educational goals.  Courses taken ten (10) or more years prior to a student’s last enrollment at one of the colleges in the Alamo Colleges District will not count as semester credit hours toward the award of the degree or certificate in the Applied Science area of major concentration. These courses will only be transferred or credited as elective credits towards the fulfillment of degree/certificate requirements. However, a student may petition for an exception, which will be evaluated and awarded as approved by the program lead, the Vice President for Academic Success (VPAS).

Core Curriculum for AAS Degrees

Each AAS degree must have a minimum of 15 semester hours of general education courses. The 15 hours of general education courses must be selected from the following areas and must include at least 1 course in each area: Humanities/Fine Arts (Language, Philosophy & Culture, Creative Arts, etc.); Social/Behavioral Sciences (Government/Political Science, History, etc.); and Mathematics/Life and Physical Sciences (Biology, Chemistry, Physics, college-level Mathematics, etc.). The degree requirements may specify the courses required or the student may have the choice of any course listed in the core curriculum section of the catalog.


Certificates are part of the career and technical offerings at the colleges in the Alamo Colleges District. The certificate programs require fewer semester hours than an AAS and most can be applied toward an AAS degree. Some certificate programs do not require students to meet Texas Success Initiative (TSI) requirements. If enrolling in a certificate program for which the TSI requirements are waived, students may not enroll in any courses other than those required for completing the certificate program requirements. Attempting additional coursework will require students to meet TSI testing and/or remediation requirements. Prior to enrolling, students are encouraged to check with their advisor or with respective departments regarding the TSI requirements of each certificate. 

The types of certificates available are:

  • Occupational Skills Award:  9 to 14 semester hours. Courses that may lead to immediate employment or add to the student’s marketability
  • Level I Certificate:  15 to 42 semester hours (TSI-waived)
  • Level II Certificate:  30 to 51 semester hours (subject to TSI requirements)

All certificates require students to:

  • Complete the required number of hours of prescribed course work
  • Complete a capstone course within the prescribed course work
  • Complete at least 25% of the required semester hours at the college awarding the Level I/II Certificate, or 50% of the required semester hours at the college awarding the Occupational Skills Award.

For information on the capstone course, contact the respective chairperson or program coordinator.