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First Time Undergraduates


Selecting the right degree plan is a key step in ensuring a smooth admissions process and a successful educational experience. Many first-time college students come to us unsure of which program to choose and where to begin. Our Admissions Representatives can help you make this important decision. To speak with a representative, call 877-777-9081 or e-mail

  • Undergraduate study includes associate and bachelor's degrees, as well as certificates and learning tracks.
  • All of our undergraduate programs require you to have a high school diploma or equivalent (i.e. GED).
  • New undergraduate students may be asked to complete our College Readiness Assessment before registering for courses. (If you were ever in the military or attended a public safety academy, you may be exempt from this requirement.)

Selecting Your Program

During the application process, you will be asked to declare your academic program. This is an important step as it generates the academic plan that you will follow as a student here. As an undergraduate student, you can choose from the following program levels:

Associate Degree

The associate degree program is designed for students who seek a 2-year degree as either their final degree in higher education or the foundation for further study at the bachelor’s level. If your plan is to someday seek the bachelor’s degree, it is recommended that you declare a bachelor’s degree program instead of the associate degree.

Bachelor's Degree

A bachelor’s degree is designed for students who seek the traditional 4-year degree commonly recognized as the standard credential of higher education in the U.S. and most industrialized nations. It is this degree that is most often pursued by students who possess a high school diploma or equivalent.

Undergraduate Certificate

The undergraduate certificate provides a 6- to 8-course focus of study on a particular topic or set of issues. The curriculum is more concentrated than an associate or bachelor’s degree and is typically taken by students who may already have an undergraduate degree but seek more specific knowledge in a subject area.

  • Certificates range from 18 to 24 semester hours, average 1 year to complete, but you have up to 3 years from start to finish.

Learning Track

A learning track is comprised of 3 academic courses in a related area of interest. The learning track is designed for students to pursue a course of study without committing to a degree or certificate program.

  • Learning Tracks are 9 credits each and average 6 months to a year to complete.
  • In addition to the 3 academic courses, you will take Classroom Success (COLL099), which is a non-credit bearing course that has no associated tuition cost, but does incur a $50 course fee.

Non-Degree Seeking

Select this option to take courses here for personal knowledge or for transferring credits to other universities.

Admission Requirements

In addition to meeting the requirements for each program level as listed above, some programs have specific admission requirements. Please carefully review the detailed program description to be sure you are qualified to apply for your program of interest.

Additional Help

If you need help deciding on a major that could assist you in achieving your career goals, check out our career assessment tool, FOCUS-2 (use apus123 as the access code when creating an account). This assessment tool can help you discover which career fields match your interests, skills, and abilities, and suggests possible degrees that can prepare you for jobs in these areas. 

Once you've narrowed your options, talk with an Admissions Representative; he or she can assist you in getting a preliminary evaluation of your previous transcripts so you can make a more informed choice.


American Public University System, American Public University, and American Military University are not affiliated with American University or the U.S. Military. American Public University System (APUS) is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). © 2016 American Public University System | 111 W. Congress Street, Charles Town, WV 25414 | Toll Free: 1-877-755-2787 | Privacy Policy | Terms