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Academic Program & Course Expectations

Who Administers NECC’s Associate Degrees and Certificates?

Under the leadership of the Vice President of Academic Affairs, programs of study at Northern Essex Community College are offered through the cooperative efforts of four academic areas, each directed by a Dean. Four areas administer the associate degree and certificate programs of study: Business, Math, Science and Technology; Health Professions; Humanities and Social Sciences; and Law, Education and Social Professions. The fifth, Instructional and Student Support, is a multi-purpose, service-oriented academic area that assists students to assess and improve academic skills.

What type of academic programs does NECC offer?

Northern Essex Community College offers a variety of academic programs leading to the attainment of an Associate of Arts or Associate of Science Degree. Associate degree programs carry a minimum of 60 credits and follow a required or recommended sequence of courses. These programs are carefully designed to develop the knowledge, skill, abilities and appreciation that the College has determined essential to receive degree status. Students intending to continue their studies are encouraged to review specific college requirements with their advisors to obtain highest transferability of the NECC coursework.

What core academic skill levels should NECC graduates expect to attain?

Northern Essex Community College (NECC) students will emerge from our caring academic community prepared and motivated to become self-aware, engaged members of the communities in which they live and work.  To do so, it is essential that all NECC students learn to think critically and gain problem solving skills.  By helping them to look at their assumptions, ask penetrating questions, formulate hypotheses and draw conclusions based on sound evidence, we prepare them for the complex challenges they will face as citizens, in their careers, and in their personal lives.

Critical thinking requires the development of the following core academic skills:

  • Communication: (Public Presentation and Written Communication) Students will develop and express ideas by applying the tools of discussion, debate, research and inquiry. They will demonstrate the capacity to listen, speak, read and write with increasing complexity and sophistication, attending both to purpose and to the diversity of audiences, and to communicate their ideas using appropriate oral, written, visual or technological means.
  • Global Awareness: Students will develop an understanding of the diverse cultures, ways of thinking and historical traditions in today’s world.  They will learn to use this knowledge to address increasingly interdependent global issues such as the environment and human rights.
  • Information Literacy: Students will learn to identify their information needs, then locate, evaluate, and appropriately integrate information to accomplish a specific purpose.  Students will demonstrate the ability to use current technology as well as other research resources to successfully find, and then effectively communicate the information.
  • Quantitative Reasoning: Students will learn to interpret and manipulate quantitative information and apply mathematical concepts and skills to solve real-world problems.
  • Science and Technology: Students will learn to explain how science and technology influence each other and how both can be used to explore natural and human-created systems.

What degree options are available to NECC students?

Specific degree options within degree programs will recommend or require a minimum of either six courses or twenty credits as defined within the college catalog and will be included on the college transcript.

  • Transfer Associate Degree Programs: The primary transfer programs at Northern Essex are Liberal Arts, Business Transfer and Engineering Science. These programs are parallel to the first two years of similar programs in most public and private senior colleges throughout the country and provide a solid basis for transfer with advanced standing.
  • Career Associate Degree Programs: Career associate degree programs are intended to provide the theory and technical knowledge to develop the professional skills students need to qualify for entry into the job market immediately after graduation. Many of these programs include practicum experiences while others may be supplemented with cooperative education courses for on-the-job training. Individual courses within these programs may have transfer potential into related degrees at senior colleges. With some additional courses, students in career programs can and do go on to four year colleges or universities.

What certificate options are available to NECC students?

NECC certificates are awarded for an area of concentration that develops specific skills needed for immediate job entry into a career field/cluster or further study in a clearly identified are of specialization within a discipline. NECC awards several types of certificates.

  • Certificate: The NECC Certificate is awarded for a 24 credit program.
  • Certificate of Completion: The NECC Certificate of Completion is awarded for a 15-23 credit certificate program.
  • Certificate of Accomplishment or Participation: The NECC Certificate of Accomplishment or Participation is awarded for certificate programs up to 14 credits or for non-credit courses. Many of these certificate programs provide practicum experience, while others may be supplemented with cooperative education courses for alternative on-the-job experience. Most certificate programs may be applied in part or whole towards an appropriate degree program or General Studies degree. Individual courses within these programs may have transfer potential.

What curriculum plan or course requirement or expectations should students be aware of?

The plan of study for each associate degree or certificate program indicates all or some of the following:

  • Specific courses, by number and title, which must be completed and the sequence in which they must be completed.
  • Required types of courses, such as science, mathematics, humanities, social sciences, etc., which must be completed.
  • Elective opportunities (not otherwise limited by specific program requirements) where any course or courses for graduation credit can be chosen as long as the required number of credits to earn the degree is satisfied.

In order to meet the requirements in four semesters, a student must complete an average of at least 15 credit hours each semester. This pace involves a course load which, for a variety of reasons, is too heavy for many students. Therefore, many students take five and six semesters to complete their requirements. The college therefore, defines a full time student as one who is carrying 12 credit hours in one semester. Students, in consultation with advisors, select courses and create their schedule during the registration period. If students are not able to take the courses in the order in which they are listed in the curriculum plan, students must be certain that they have fulfilled any stated prerequisites for courses that are selected out of sequence.

What content delivery expectations should students be aware of and prepared for?

All current and potential Northern Essex Community College students should be prepared to complete assignments, exams, and projects using a variety of computer technology formats for any course in which they are enrolled. As part of the learning experience, a faculty member may use technology to enhance his or her course. There are various formats that can be used:

  • Online: Completely online with no classroom meetings
  • Hybrid: Online course with some limited classroom meetings
  • Web Enhanced: Traditional class meetings with required web assignments
  • Web Companion: Traditional class meetings with supplemental web assignments

How is admission to career programs determined?

View Career Program Sequences

Admission to career programs is competitive, as enrollments are limited. Qualified students who are not initially accepted to their program of choice are offered admission to the General Studies Degree. Students enroll in courses designated in the Career Program Sequence for the program for which they have applied. The courses are all applicable to the degree or certificate in which they seek to enroll. Career program faculty and/or Academic Advising staff advise these students. Qualified students are admitted to their program of choice when a vacancy occurs.

How long should it take to complete a program at NECC?

The sequence of courses in associate degree programs allows these programs to be completed in two years by full-time students. Many of our students design three to five-year plans or accelerate their progress by attending summer and/or evening classes. For more information see an advisor.