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Schenectady County Community College

Humanities & Social Sciences


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Associate Degree:

An associate degree is the label or credential a person earns upon completing an academic program that requires a minimum of 60 college credits.

Several kinds of associate degrees exist; Associate of Arts (A.A.), Associate of Science (A.S.), Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.), and Associate of Occupational Science (A.O.S.) are the 4 kinds of degrees offered by SCCC. In addition, SCCC offers 1-2 semester certificate programs which provide a briefer introduction to certain fields than do the degree programs.

The A.A. and A.S. degrees are transfer degrees, whereas the A.A.S. and A.O.S. are designed to enable people to enter the workforce in paraprofessional jobs immediately after graduation. Some of the programs offered by the Humanities and Social Sciences Department, as well as some programs in other SCCC departments, provide two degree options: an option designed for those who intend to transfer to a senior college (the A.S. degree), and an option designed for those who intend to pursue paraprofessional employment in their field immediately after graduation (the A.A.S. degree). It's important to note carefully into which option you matriculate, since the course requirements for each differ.

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Baccalaureate Degree:

A baccalaureate degree (also known as a bachelor's degree) is the label (or credential) which a person earns upon completing an academic program that requires a minimum of 120 college credits.

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College Credit:

Short for "credit hour," the term "credit" is the traditional academic unit for measuring a course in terms of the number of hours of classroom instruction involved. For example, generally a three-credit course meets for three hours (three 50-minute hour sessions, two 1.25 hour sessions, or one 2.5 hour session) per week for 15 weeks; this generates a total of 45 class hours over a semester.

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Disciplines of the Humanities and Social Sciences:

"Humanities" and "Social Sciences" are the two categories into which disciplines that focus on the thought and behavior of human beings have traditionally been placed. Beyond that, it's difficult to identify precisely the disciplines in each category, because of changes in the definitions of each over time, changes in the development of individual disciplines, and varied opinions even at the present as to which discipline should be placed in which category.

Generally, the Humanities have included philosophy, religion, and history, as well as the study of creative productions of humans: literature, the fine arts, and the performing arts. In addition, other aspects of language use besides literature, such as the study of other national languages, have been included. However, as the following illustrates, there are many differing opinions as to whether certain fields should be classified under the Humanities:

  • The arts have often been treated as a category separate from the Humanities.
  • One particular discipline that studies language--linguistics--is almost always classified as a Social Science, while another discipline that focuses on language use--rhetoric--in some colleges and universities is considered to be a member of both categories.
  • History has also often enjoyed dual citizenship, as has philosophy in some cases.

The Social Sciences, a category that evolved during the late 19th century when certain disciplines studying human behavior attempted to model themselves after the natural sciences, generally include: anthropology, archaeology, economics, political science, psychology, and sociology.

To see which disciplines SCCC defines as falling under the Humanities or Social Sciences label, go to the Humanities & Social Sciences Department's Courses page.

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An elective is a course a student chooses based on her or his professional or personal interests. Different programs will usually apply restrictions regarding the number and the nature of courses from the various categories of courses (Humanities, Social Sciences, Sciences, Mathematics, Arts, Liberal Arts, or other specialized groups).

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Liberal Arts:

"Liberal arts" is the term for a cluster of fields of study that, in Western culture, have traditionally been considered essential for adequate education and civic participation. These fields have included disciplines within the Humanities, Social Sciences, Mathematics, and Sciences.

Currently, U.S. colleges use liberal arts courses as the basis of what is often called the "core curriculum" or "general education" requirement for degrees in all fields.

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"Matriculation" refers to a student's official enrollment in a particular program of study: a matriculated student has identified a degree or certificate in a particular field as her or his academic goal, whereas a non-matriculated student takes courses that are not necessarily intended to fit into a particular program of study.

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A paraprofessional is someone who is educated and specifically trained to assist professional in specific fields, such as Early Childhood Education and Social Work.

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Pre-requisites are courses and/or levels of competency which must have been fulfilled before a student can enroll in a particular course. Pre-requisites are necessary for any course which presents the course material with a presumption of a certain level of prior knowledge, experience, and/or competency. Success in such courses is heavily dependent on meeting the pre-requisites.

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A semester is one-half of the traditional academic "year" that runs from around September through May. Typically, semesters include 15 weeks of classroom instruction.

During summer terms, a semester's worth of work is compressed into a period of time shorter than 15 weeks; in the case of SCCC summer courses, that period could be 3, 4, 6, or 8 weeks, depending on the individual course offering.

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"Two-Year" College:

"Two-year" college is a label often mistakenly attached to community or "junior" colleges like SCCC which provide programs that either constitute the first half of most baccalaureate degree programs offered by "senior" colleges or programs intended to help a student enter a paraprofessional job immediately after graduation.

The label is inaccurate because most students don't finish an Associate degree program in two academic years (four semesters) for several reasons that didn't exist in past times (when this label originated).

Similarly, the term "four-year college" is a misnomer because, again, many students don't complete a baccalaureate degree in four academic years.

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Who can sign up for Honors courses?:

  • Students who have matriculated into the Honors Concentration of the A.A. degree, and
  • Any students who have both met course pre-requisites and received a faculty recommendation or permission of the instructor of the Honors course in question.