Researching Postsecondary Programs

Students in class

What Type of Degree, Certificate or Training Do I Need for My Career of Interest?

It is very common for students to have an idea about possible careers that interest them, but they do not know the type of training, degree or certificate they need in order to enter the workforce. For example: if you want to be a nurse, what kind of education do you need?

Most colleges and universities provide academic advising to students.  Academic advisors help students identify the appropriate certificates or degrees they need to reach their career goals.  Advisors can also help students plan to transfer to another school if they need additional education or more advanced degrees.

So don't feel like you have to have all the answers before you enroll in college.  Advisors are here to help guide your academic planning and answer your questions.  At the same time, it is valuable to spend some time educating yourself about academic pathways and requirements so that you can begin to explore pathways that might be a good fit for your needs and wants.

Tools to help students research academic degrees and certificates:


How Do I Find Colleges, Universities or Other Institutions That Offer Programs I Am Interested In?

If you already know where you want to go to school, you can simply look for the programs of study that school offers and explore your options from there (look under the "Academic Programs" tab on the school's website).  See below for links to the Central Oregon Community College and Oregon State University-Cascades academic program websites.

However, you might have a degree or career field in mind and you want to explore which schools offer degrees in that  area of interest.  Here are some tools to help you with that research:

What Classes Do I Need to Take for my Degree or Certificate Program?

An important part of researching educational programs is understanding the types of classes you will need to take to graduate.  This is an excellent way to learn if you will enjoy the program and create success. If you look at a program's list of classes and it looks miserable to you, then maybe that is not a program that is a good fit.  Although it is unreasonable to expect that every required class will bring you joy, it is important to find programs that generally sound interesting and meaningful for your interests and learning goals.

This research is also a great way to learn about other types of work-based learning opportunities a program may offer such as internships, clinicals, practicums, etc. Additionally researching program requirements will help you see how many electives are offered and how much flexibility you may have in your course of study. Finally, this research can help you identify if a program has pre-requisites or other selective admissions requirements

  • Pre-requisites are classes you need to take before you can start a specific program.
  • Selective admissions means that there is an application and admissions requirements for a specific program and not everyone will be admitted.

There are TWO ways to do this research for any college or university you are interested in:

  • Academic Program Webpages - Program webpages are a great way to get an overview of the academic program and career field, research degrees or certificates offered, read student stories, explore program requirements, identify faculty, and get a general "vibe" about the program. You can usually find this information under a tab such as "Academic Programs" or "Academics".
  • Course Catalogs - All colleges and universities have a course catalog online. You can look up specific programs and get detailed information about graduation and admission requirements as well as program requirements, course requirements, and sample academic plans.