January 24, 2022

Say What: Certificates and Degrees

Say What? Learn lingo

Knowing the difference can help you decide what path to pursue

Learning, of course, is the goal of any college experience. Part of that education means familiarizing yourself with some unfamiliar terms. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.

As part of an occasional series, we’ll explain phrases, lingo or topics to add to your college vocabulary. We call it “Say What?” If there’s a topic you’d like to see covered, please send suggestions to [email protected]

Today we’ll learn about some of the differences between the certificates and degrees that Schoolcraft College offers. The College has over 130 different programs leading to either a skills certificate, certificate, associate degree, or post-associate certificate. We also offer a Bachelor of Science degree in Culinary and Dietary Operations Management.

Skills Certificates and Certificates

Skills Certificates and Certificates are viable credentials for improving your salary and career outlook. They are approved by the Schoolcraft College accrediting organization, the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), and by the Department of Education/Federal Financial Aid. The Skills Certificates and Certificates are earned by many students and can help you gain a job in your chosen field or can help advance your career in an industry. They do not require as much time, or as many classes, and so are an economical way to begin and achieve.

Students in regalia holding up degrees
Schoolcraft College offers a variety of credentials – Certificates, Skills Certificates, Associate Degrees and a Bachelor of Science degree – to help students attain their goals.

The Skills Certificate will help provide you with an introductory view of the field and may help you to obtain an entry-level position in a variety of roles. The Certificate can assist with entry-level positions as well as enter more concentrated career paths.

The credits earned are also stackable so that you can go on from earning the Skills Certificate (most are about 16 credits), to then earning the Certificate (about 16 additional credits). 

By achieving these certificate milestones, you will have access to potential entry-level positions, advancement in current positions, and advancement toward further degrees and professional certificates. It also will allow for new career paths for workers of any industry that have been displaced and are seeking a career change with a positive growth potential.

With success comes more confidence and the boost in confidence, career and earnings make these credentials very attractive.


The majority of students at Schoolcraft College are working toward graduating with one of these four associate degrees:

  • Associate in Arts (AA)
  • Associate in Science (AS)
  • Associate in Applied Science (AAS)
  • Associate in Business Administration (ABA)

What are the differences?

Both the Associate in Arts (AA) and Associate in Science (AS) degrees are designed for students who want to pursue a bachelor’s degree in a particular discipline. Many, if not all, credits can be transferred to four-year institutions. Check with your Academic Advisor, but in some cases it’s possible to enter a four-year school as a junior with all general education courses already completed. Earning an AS or AA at Schoolcraft College first can result in tremendous cost savings compared with attending a college or university for all four years to complete a bachelor’s degree.

An earlier Say What? explains these transfer possibilities in further detail.

An Associate in Applied Science (AAS) degree is designed for those interested in entering the workforce right away and establishing a career in health care, business, manufacturing and more. Professionals already working in these fields find that completing an associate degree can lead to career advancement. In some cases, apprenticeships are available and employers may pay for classes.

An AAS is considered a “terminal degree” – that is, the courses are designed to get students the education they need to succeed in the workforce right way rather than serving as a foundation or stepping stone to a bachelor’s degree. While it’s possible to transfer AAS courses to a four-year institution, it’s not the usual path.

The Associate in Business Administration (ABA) is the best of both worlds, providing a foundation to both a bachelor’s degree and the knowledge to enter the workforce in a variety of business-related fields, including:

  • Accounting
  • Business Administration
  • Computer Information Systems
  • Finance
  • Human Resources Management
  • International Business
  • Management
  • Marketing

In addition, Schoolcraft College also confers the following degrees:

  • Associate in Engineering (AE)
  • Associate in Fine Arts (AFA)
  • Associate in General Studies (AGS)
  • Bachelor of Science (BS)

Like the AA and AS degrees, the Associate in Engineering (AE), Associate in Fine Arts (AFA), and Associate in General Studies (AGS) degrees are designed for students who want to pursue a bachelor’s degree at a four-year institution.

Schoolcraft College’s Bachelor of Science degree program, usually completed in four years, is in Culinary Arts. Students on this track earn a Bachelor of Science degree in Culinary and Dietary Operations Management. As the name suggests, it prepares graduates for management positions in the food and nutrition industries. This program also combines business and science courses to broaden the knowledge base beyond culinary and improve the student’s career opportunities. 

There are many programs at Schoolcraft College offering certificates and degrees that will make a positive difference in your career opportunities and earnings. Continue to meet with your Academic Advisor to ensure you’re on the right path for all that you want to achieve with your education at Schoolcraft College. 

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