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RCCD Noncredit FAQs for Faculty

What is the purpose of noncredit courses and programs?  

Noncredit courses and programs promote student success by enabling students to gain the skills, knowledge, and confidence to get a job, get a better job, or transition to credit education. By significantly lowering th​e barriers to entry, noncredit courses expand student access and are a vital stepping-stone for underserved students to reach their individual goals.  ​

Who are noncredit students? 

While some credit students will benefit from enrolling in noncredit courses, noncredit courses tend to target a different population.   

      • Skill Builders - Some students are interested in developing a particular skill to reach a career goal and are thus not interested in enrolling in a larger credit certificate or degree program.  

      • Bridge to Credit - New or returning students might require targeted support to ease their transition to credit education, including building confidence in their own academic skills. 

      • Undocumented Students - Due to documentation status or other limitations, certain community members do not qualify for financial aid and consequently cannot enroll in credit education. The noncredit CCC Apply application is more concise than the credit version and does not ask for documentation status. Noncredit courses provide an alternative educational path for these students, while allowing undocumented students to earn AB540 eligibility.  

Who designs noncredit curriculum and what is the approval process?  

The noncredit curriculum development and approval process mirrors the credit process, with the included step of state approval for all courses and programs.    

How long are courses and certificates?  

There is no maximum or minimum number of hours for noncredit courses and certificates. 

Do students enrolled in noncredit get financial aid? 

No, noncredit students to not get any type of financial aid. Many faculty use open resources to minimize out of pocket costs for students.  

Can undocumented students take noncredit? 

Yes, undocumented students can take noncredit courses, and the courses count toward their eligibility for AB 540. Students should contact the college's Admissions and Records office for more information.  ​

Can students under the age of 18 take noncredit courses?

Yes, students under the age of 18 can take noncredit courses and must complete a concurrent enrollment form. Students should work with the college's Admissions and Records office to complete any needed paperwork.  

What are some unique considerations for noncredit courses? 

Noncredit courses are a gateway to college for many students, and so students might not understand college processes or terms. A careful explanation on the first day of class regarding what students can expect from a noncredit courses is helpful to students. Additionally, faculty can choose to include information on noncredit on the course syllabus or handout the “Noncredit FAQs for Students" document developed by the college.  

Possible language for syllabus: About Noncredit Courses: This is a noncredit course. Since it is tuition free, students enrolled only in noncredit courses are not eligible for financial aid. While students will not earn academic credit for this course, students have the opportunity to earn a noncredit certificate. It will take at least 90 days after the end of the semester for the college to print a certificate. This course is part of the following certificate(s): 

Certificate Name

Courses Included in Certificate:  

Are noncredit and Community Education courses the same?  

No, community education courses are fee-based, not necessarily taught by faculty, and the curriculum does not have to be approved or chaptered by the state. Noncredit courses are tuition-free, taught by faculty, curriculum is approved or chaptered by the state and earn apportionment.  

What if my course has a waitlist? 

Since many noncredit courses are fairly short, any student that is on the waitlist should register in the course by the first day of class. 

Do noncredit courses have positive attendance? 

Yes, all noncredit courses are positive attendance, meaning that faculty must take attendance every class and record the total amount of time a student attended. This must be submitted via Web Advisor.  

Do noncredit courses have grades?  

Any course that is part of a noncredit certificate is either pass/no pass or letter grade.  

What are mirrored noncredit courses?  

A noncredit mirrored course has the same course outline of record as the credit version, but with hours listed instead of units and faculty have the option of choosing unlimited repeatability when creating the course. These courses are cross-listed, taught in the same classroom as the credit version, and students enrolled in the noncredit section must complete the same work as those enrolled in the credit section. Faculty can choose to mirror a course due to the benefits for students and their programs. It is not required for any faculty to mirror any course. It is a faculty choice. 

What are the benefits of mirrored noncredit courses for students? 

Noncredit courses give students an opportunity to “try out" college by taking FREE noncredit courses before entering the credit pathway. This benefits students who are unsure if they will succeed in a credit course or cannot take credit due to residency restrictions. 

Can students get credit if they take a noncredit mirrored course?   

Each of the three college catalogs state that, “Students may petition to have non-credit courses counted toward the satisfaction of requirements for an associate degree." Through the credit-by-exam process, mirrored noncredit courses can be articulated with credit. The college will follow the existing process for credit-by-exam.

What are the benefits of mirrored courses for the college?

There are a few reasons faculty might consider mirroring a course:  

      • By setting aside a few seats for noncredit students, the college can fill courses that may be under-enrolled by broadening access 

      • Mirrored courses can be bundled into approved certificates that receive enhanced funding 

      • Increased enrollment through expanding access to noncredit populations while incurring minimal to zero additional cost for the college 

      • Mirrored courses bundled into certificates will count for Strong Workforce and California Adult Education outcomes 

When should a noncredit mirrored course be considered?  

Introductory courses in a larger credit certificate can qualify students for an entry-level position. If these introductory courses are mirrored and bundled into a certificate, students whose goal is to get an entry-level position can complete the noncredit certificate and the college will receive Strong Workforce points. When the student is ready to continue with the credit certificate, they can do credit-by-exam. 

What are the minimum qualifications for faculty to teach noncredit? 

Minimum qualifications are tied to the discipline. Consequently, some noncredit courses have the same minimum qualifications as credit courses, and some do not. The Professional Development Studies (PDS) discipline is currently the only discipline at the three RCCD colleges that is solely for noncredit courses. PDS courses are designed for students with a variety of educational and professional goals. These courses, such as Time Management, Workplace Communication Strategies, or Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, and Decision Making, are categorized as Workforce Preparation courses.  ​

Are noncredit courses required to have textbooks?

No. While noncredit courses can require a textbook, many faculty choose to leverage open educational resources, instructor created materials, or other free material. Noncredit courses are often significantly shorter than credit courses and offered off-site, both of which can make obtaining the textbook in a timely manner challenging for students. Additionally, noncredit students do not qualify for financial aid, which means that they must pay for books out of pocket.

Where can faculty find additional resources? 

      • Noncredit Instruction: Opportunity and Challenge​- This position paper from the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges provides information about noncredit instruction in the California Community Colleges and updates the 2009 pap​er to incorporate subsequent changes from the last decade.

      • Noncredit First Friday WebinarsThe first Friday webinars are part of the Noncredit Community of Practice effort that launched with the inaugural Noncredit Summit held in May 2017. The webinars are conducted in collaboration with noncredit practitioners from ACCE (Association of Community and Continuing Education), ASCCC (Academic Senate for CCC), Career Ladders Project, and the CCC Success Network (3CSN). All webinars are archived and topics include noncredit pathways, noncredit curriculum policy, and mirrored courses. 

      • Program and Course Approval Handbook, 7th Edition- This handbook provides guidance on the development of programs and courses. The description of noncredit courses and programs begins on page 97.

      • Association of Community and Continuing Education (ACCE)​​- This professional organization is dedicated to advocacy, networking, and sharing of best practices in continuing and community education.