3-7: Academic Certificates – Policy

Policy Overview

This policy defines requirements for credit-based academic certificates and establishes the process for earning academic certificates.  This policy and accompanying documents are designed to serve the best interests of Santa Fe Community College (SFCC) students by providing a clearly defined pathway to certificate completion.

Scope and Applicability

This policy applies to all full-time and part-time students seeking an academic certificate.

Policy Statement

Certificate programs are designed to prepare students to enter skilled or paraprofessional occupations or to upgrade skills and knowledge. Requirements for certificate programs are approved by the Curriculum Committee, following procedures documented in the Curriculum Committee Handbook including seeking input from appropriate stakeholders, and the Vice President for Academic Affairs (VPAA) and documented in the SFCC catalog.


  1. Full-Time Faculty Contracted to provide teaching, available hours, service, and college service on either a nine-month or 12-month contract.
  2. First-Year Student Success Course (FYSS) Requirement All degree- and certificate-seeking students entering SFCC with fewer than 15 credits of college-level coursework must take a first-year student success course during their first semester at SFCC. This requirement is waived for students seeking certificates that require 16 credit hours or fewer.
  3. Curriculum Committee is a standing committee of full-time SFCC credit faculty who represent the various schools and a representative from Continuing Education. The Curriculum Committee evaluates credit course syllabi, certificate, and degree plans, and makes recommendations to the Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs.
  4. Credit Hours are awarded in terms of semester credit. Each semester hour of credit in a lecture class requires a minimum of 750 minutes of instruction per semester; each semester hour of credit in a laboratory class requires a minimum of 1,500 minutes of instruction per semester (SFCC Policy 3-1 Audit of Credit Courses).
  5. Concentration An area of specialization within a certificate or degree program.
  6. Core Requirements Mandatory courses in or closely related to the student's major field of study at SFCC. The college's use of the term core requirements should not be confused with the HED use of the term core in its Common Core Matrix of Transferable Courses.
  7. College Catalog includes information about the college, its mission, vision, and values as well as information about fees, grades, transferability, financial aid, and programs. The catalog also includes degrees and certificates, course descriptions, faculty, and staff of the College. The catalog is revised on an annual basis.
  8. Approved Electives Optional courses (if any) from the "related requirements" list or any other courses that the student and their advisor determine to be appropriate and applicable to the degree.
  9. Admission Requirements are courses, skills, exams, certifications, or application materials that must be completed or provided before a student may be admitted to a degree or certificate program.
  10. Grade-Point Average (GPA) s a measure of the overall quality of a student’s coursework. GPA is calculated by dividing the total grade points earned by the total number of credit hours attempted. Grade points are calculated for each course by multiplying the number of credit hours for the individual course by the point value assigned to the student’s grade. Letter Grade, Point Value Per Credit: A 4 A- 3.67, B+ 3.33, B 3, B- 2.67, C+ 2.33, C 2, D 1, F 0, P
  11. Learning Assessment Committee (LAC) is a standing committee that actively promotes a culture of continuous quality improvement in teaching and learning through data-informed processes across all curricular and co-curricular areas; it establishes and manages the learning assessment processes at SFCC.
  12. Program Learning Outcomes (PLOs) identify what students will know and be able to do by the end of a degree or certificate program – the significant and essential knowledge, skills, and competencies that constitute the integrated learning needed by the graduate of a program.
  13. Related requirements consist of required courses from a list published in the SFCC Catalog or any other courses that a representative of the department awarding the degree determines to be appropriate and applicable to the degree.

Policy Process

  1.  Academic certificates shall consist of a minimum of 4 credit hours and shall not exceed 52 credit hours.
  2. Whenever practicable, courses required for a certificate will be a subset of the courses required for the related associate degree.
  3. Each certificate program shall include program learning outcomes, approved by the Learning Assessment Committee and the Curriculum Committee.
  4. Applicants for certificates must do the following:

1. Satisfy all conditions for admission to the college.
2. Successfully complete the required course of study specified in the college catalog for the certificate that the student has declared.
3. Earn an overall cumulative grade-point average (GPA) of at least 2.0.
4. Successfully complete one-quarter of the total required credit hours for the certificate at SFCC.
5. Meet the First-Year Student Success course requirement, if applicable.
6. Meet all financial obligations to the college.
7. Complete and file a petition to graduate.

Statement of Accountability and Responsibility

The President, through the Vice President for Academic Affairs and the Office of Academic Affairs (OAA), shall be responsible for enforcing Academic Affairs procedures and policies. OAA shall work with the different departments and offices to comply with this policy and develop procedures that will enforce this policy regarding awareness, prevention and remediation.
At least once every three years, this policy and supporting documents shall be reviewed by the Vice President for Academic Affairs (VPAA) and the Curriculum Committee.


Policy 3-3 Associate in Arts and Associate in Science Degree Requirements;
Policy 3-4 Associate in Applied Arts and Associate in Applied Science Degree Requirements
Policy 3-6 Faculty Workload
SFCC Governing Board approved: 1/27/16