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Degree courses are any type of class taken, typically at a university, college, or other secondary educational facility, to fulfill a requirement or need by someone pursuing a degree. This can be a class toward a four-year degree such as a bachelor’s, a post-graduate degree such as a master’s or Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), or even a two-year degree such as an associate’s or technical certification program. Any type of coursework that helps qualify a person toward a degree that he or she is working on can usually be referred to as a degree course.
The major difference between degree courses and other types of classes is that a degree course helps qualify a person for a degree upon graduation from an educational institution. This distinction means that most classes offered by universities and colleges are degree courses, since many of the students attending such schools are working on various degrees. While some people do take classes simply out of personal curiosity or for personal development, the typical purpose of a class is to satisfy degree requirements.
Degree courses can also be classes taken at a school that does not offer four-year degrees, but can be transferred to another degree-issuing institution, which then can accept the class as a degree course. Many community colleges offer these types of programs, sometimes awarding students associate’s degrees in various subjects, or simply offering programs to help students fulfill prerequisites and other needed classes for university programs. These courses can, of course, also be taken by students who are interested in a subject that does not relate to a degree they are working on or by individuals who simply wish to enhance their own knowledge of a subject.
In these situations, such classes would likely not be referred to as degree courses by that individual, even though they could be for someone else. Many people take artistic classes such as photography, drawing, or pottery out of a personal interest in the subject, rather than to receive a degree. These people would not refer to their classes as degree courses, but instead would simply take the classes that they enjoy or as prerequisites to classes they wish to take in the future.
Most colleges and universities have catalogs that illustrate the path a person must take to receive a particular degree. These catalogs often point out which classes are degree courses and which are classes that can serve as electives or for general study. Anyone unsure of what courses are needed to receive a degree should consult a guidance counselor or adviser for information about specific programs.