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Learn the difference between credit and noncredit classes.
Colleges and universities throw around a lot of academic terminology and sometimes we make the mistake of assuming everyone knows what we’re talking about. A common area of confusion is the difference between credit and noncredit courses.


You might take a credit course if you plan to eventually (at AACC or another institution) earn a credit certificate or degree. The number of credits a course is worth is based on the time you're expected to be in class. You earn credit by attending and successfully completing a course. Credits add up and can be applied toward a degree. 

Examples of Credit Students

  • You're working toward an associate degree in nursing. You plan to get a job in a doctor's office after graduation.
  • You're working toward an associate degree in English. You plan to transfer to a four-year college after graduation to earn your bachelor's degree.
  • You're attending a four-year college, but are home for the summer. You decide to take a course that will transfer to your home school and apply to your four-year degree.


You might take a noncredit course, sometimes called continuing education, to gain job skills or just for fun. Noncredit courses cannot be used toward a credit degree, but (and here is where it seems muddy) many noncredit job training and skill building courses award continuing education units, industry certifications or continuing education certificates.

Examples of Noncredit Students

  • You're taking a course in Microsoft Office to improve your skills and beef up your resumé.
  • You're learning to paint landscapes, because it's something you've always wanted to do.
  • You're working toward a continuing education certificate in welding, so you can land a job in that field.

Still confused?

It might help to browse our offerings. We divided them into three categories: Credit Degrees and Certificates, Noncredit Job Training and Professional Development, and Noncredit Personal Enrichment. Seeing which programs fall into which categories might help clarify the differences.  Each area of study page has a contact listed. If you still have questions, there is always someone willing to help.

Additional Resources