Degree & Certificate Options at SMC


Associate Degrees

SMC offers Associate degrees which require a minimum of 60-degree applicable units and generally takes approximately two to three years to complete. SMC currently offers 38 Associate degrees to choose from.

An Associate degree is granted upon successful completion of a program of study with a minimum overall grade point average (GPA) of 2.0 (C) and a minimum of 60-degree applicable semester units, including:

  • Completion of the area of emphasis with a grade of C or higher in each course, or with a P if the course was taken on a Pass/No Pass basis, and the P is equal to a C or higher
  • Completion of at least 50% of the major units at Santa Monica College;
  • Completion of one of the following general education patterns: SMC GE, CSU GE, or IGETC;
  • Completion of the SMC Global Citizenship graduation requirement

Completion of an Associate degree usually will not adequately satisfy transfer major requirements. Students are encouraged to meet with a counselor to develop an academic program best suited for their transfer institution and intended major. Students may be eligible for Optional Practical Training (OPT) upon completion of an Associate degree. For more information about OPT, please contact the International Education Center.


Students desiring a shorter program of study focusing on a specific discipline may pursue a Certificate of Achievement or Department Certificate. 

A list of SMC Certificates of Achievements and Department Certificates can be found here

Certificate programs require students to only complete specific major courses and do not require general education courses to be completed. Students who are interested in pursuing a Certificate and want to be eligible to apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT), must complete a Certificate with a minimum of 24 units. Please check with a counselor to find out which Certificates apply for OPT. Department Certificates are not eligible for OPT.

Detailed information about Associate degree majors and Certificates can be found in the SMC Catalog​.

Degree and Certificate Requirements 

Associate degree requirements include completion of 60 units, general education, and major courses. General education courses are the foundation courses that consist of a variety of disciplines in the arts, humanities, social science, science, math, and English. All students take general education courses regardless of their major.  Major courses are specific courses related to the student’s area of study. 

To view the general education and major requirements for the Associate Degrees, visit SMC General Education and SMC Associate Degrees

If students do not meet the 60-unit requirement for their degree upon completing general education and major courses, they will have to take elective courses. An elective course is any course that is not required for general education or for the major but can be used towards the 60-unit requirement. Meet with a counselor to determine if the elective class you are considering is applicable for your degree.

Associate Degrees to Transfer (ADT)

Santa Monica College currently offers 21 Associate Degrees for Transfer to California State Universities (CSU). Completion of the Associate Degree for Transfer (ADT) allows a student to earn an associate degree and to facilitate transfer admission to a CSU in a similar major. Students earning an ADT must complete either the CSU GE or IGETC general education.

Use of Foreign Coursework

Courses from an accredited foreign university may be applied towards the Associate degree at SMC. The courses must first be evaluated by an approved credential evaluation agency and then reviewed by our Admissions Office for applicability towards general education and elective units.

Courses related to a student's major will be reviewed by the academic department chairpersons based on course syllabi or course description. Students should consult with an international counselor before applying for a credential evaluation.

For more information about foreign transcript evaluation agencies, please visit here.

Can I study at SMC if I have a Bachelor’s Degree?

Yes, SMC does accept students who have a Bachelor’s degree from their country as long as SMC has a program to meet their needs. Some transfer universities, however, will not admit students with a recognized bachelor’s degree. These students may be advised to consider applying for a master’s degree at the university.

Students with foreign degrees need to discuss their transfer options directly with the four-year universities to which they plan to transfer. SMC is unable to advise the student on how their degree or foreign coursework will be used by the universities.

What is the maximum number of units I can take each session?

F-1 visa students are required to complete a minimum of 12 units each fall and spring semester to maintain F-1 status. A maximum of 16 units is allowed without special approval from an academic counselor.

Attendance in summer and winter sessions is not required for continuing students. Students choosing to enroll in these sessions may take a maximum of 8 units. F-1 visa students beginning in Summer or Winter session are required to complete a minimum of 4 units to maintain F-1 status. Students who are on academic probation are limited to 12 units for the Fall and Spring semester and 5 units for the Summer and Winter session.

When do I apply for graduation?

Upon completing the degree requirements for the Associate Degree, Certificate or ADT, students need to petition for graduation during their final semester when all requirements will be met. Graduation petition forms are available at the Admissions and Records Office and must be submitted to the Admissions and Records Office by the established deadlines. Students who are eligible to graduate are invited to participate in the yearly graduation commencement ceremony held in June. Students should meet with a counselor to determine eligibility for graduation. 

Students are not required to attend the ceremony to receive their degree or certificate.