Jun 17, 2024  
2010–2012 College Catalog 
2010–2012 College Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Graduation Requirements

Requirements for Graduation

Associate degrees offered at Northwest College include three categories of coursework: 1) specific degree requirements (including Capstone Course), 2) general education requirements, and 3) elective courses. These courses are designed to enable students to achieve program and all-college outcomes. Only college-level courses count toward degrees. (See specific Programs of Study  for recommended courses.)

To receive a degree, students MUST apply to graduate. Forms are available in Enrollment Services. See Application for Graduation below.

All-College Degree Outcomes

In order to be awarded an associate’s degree from Northwest College, individuals must:

  • Complete at least 64 credits of college-level coursework with an overall grade point average of at least 2.0;
  • Take 15 of the last 30 credits to be applied toward the degree from Northwest College;
  • Successfully complete a capstone course;
  • Meet all general education requirements for the specific degree.

Capstone Courses

All Northwest College graduates complete a capstone course as a part of their degree requirements. In capstone courses, students:

  • Demonstrate their understanding of and ability to apply important knowledge and skills in their field,
  • Demonstrate application of their general education knowledge and achievement of all-college outcomes in writing, speaking, analysis, and multiple points of view, and
  • Expand their skills through feedback on their work from professionals beyond the instructor.

All-College Outcomes

Northwest College is committed to outstanding learning outcomes for students. NWC adopted an assessment plan to learn about how well students do relative to expected learning outcomes at four levels: course, program, general education, and all-college. Outcomes for each program are available from the Academic Affairs Office. Course outcomes are included in each syllabus.


Students will:

  • Isolate a pertinent question or problem.
  • Identify appropriate problem-solving strategies.
  • Use mathematical approaches when warranted.
  • Access and evaluate data effectively and efficiently.
  • Draw warranted, logical conclusions.
  • Present convincing evidence to support conclusions.

Multiple Points of View

Students will:

  • Identify differences in the attitudes, values, core beliefs, data and/or assumptions that shape multiple points of view in relation to a particular problem, project, or topic (e.g., alternative theories or theorists, competing models, different modes of representation, dynamics of differences in culture, ethnicity, national origin, gender, economic status, generational association, and other social issues).
  • Integrate this recognition of multiple points of view in a variety of academic tasks.
  • Articulate multiple points of view through writing and speaking.

Oral Communication

Students will:

  • Compose messages for oral communication that utilize standards of organization, analysis, and adapt to various audiences.
  • Display effective oral presentation techniques.
  • Demonstrate active listening techniques including feedback, demonstrating appropriate audience behavior, and identifying main ideas in a spoken message.


Students will:

  • Produce informative, analytical, and critical prose to respond to a particular task or audience.
  • Produce writing that conforms to discipline-specific conventions.
  • Use appropriate research skills in at least one substantial writing assignment.
  • Observe the conventions of standard written English.

Information and Technology Literacy

Students will:

  • Apply appropriate technological resources to a specific task.
  • Utilize technological equipment connected to their area of interest.
  • Access and evaluate print and electronic information effectively and efficiently to address a particular problem, project, or activity.
  • Demonstrate and apply an understanding of many of the legal, ethical, and educational issues surrounding access to and the use of information.

General Education Outcomes

College education prepares a student both for life and for making a living. It blends the practical application of knowledge with the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake. When successful, education balances the sometimes contradictory claims of social service and individual ambition.

A good general education fosters freedom’s values and nurtures individual growth. It lays the foundation for further learning in a discipline or vocation, provides the tools to navigate change, and prepares one for lifelong learning.

The purpose of general education at Northwest College is to shape the development of students according to these values and to meet the outcomes listed below.

American & Wyoming Government

Wyoming Statute, Title 21, Chapter 9, Section 102, mandates that all public institutions “…give instruction in the essentials of the United States constitution and the constitution of the state of Wyoming, including the study of and devotion to American institution and ideals,…” and no student shall receive a post-secondary degree from a Wyoming institution of higher education without having been instructed in the above. An understanding of politics and government is fundamental to good citizenship and contributes to the foundation of scholarly knowledge expected of college graduates.

Students may fulfill this requirement in one of three ways:


Courses fulfilling the American and Wyoming Government General Education Requirement at Northwest College must comply with state statutes and meet all of the following student outcomes.

Students will:

  • Demonstrate the ability to analyze and evaluate the formal and informal principles, processes, and structures of the U.S. and Wyoming constitutions and political systems.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the historical development and cultural context of these constitutions and political systems.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of the relationship between understanding of the institutions by which they are governed and their roles as responsible citizens in a democratic system.

Comparative Cultural Awareness (CCA)

A primary focus of a Comparative Cultural Awareness course is cultural analysis that includes an explicit comparison of cultures in context. Culture is defined as “the totality of socially transmitted behavior patterns, arts, beliefs, institutions, and all other products of human work and thought characteristic of a community or population.” In these courses, students will understand and apply this general definition of culture.

Courses with the Comparative Cultural Awareness designation meet the following course criteria:

  • A primary focus of a Comparative Cultural Awareness course is cultural analysis that ensures an explicit comparison of culture-in-context.
  • In the course, students will understand and apply the general definition of culture (see above).
  • The pedagogical intention of the course is stimulating awareness through comparison of cultures, one of which may be the contemporary culture, explicitly analyzed.
  • Comparative Cultural Awareness courses will also examine the contextual influences that shape culture (e.g., history, economics, arts, religion, common practices, social and political institutions).


Learning outcomes will vary from course to course, but courses with the CCA designation must meet the following learning outcomes:

  • Apply general definitions of culture.
  • Recognize how culture influences individual and social values, goals, and identity.

In addition, all courses with the CCA designation should meet at least two of these outcomes:

  • Examine the products and expressions of cultures (e.g., history, art, music, religions, common practices, social, and political institutions).
  • Compare how cultural elements (e.g., gender, power, spirituality, aging, death) vary in meaning between cultures.
  • Evaluate how cultures interact and influence each other.
  • Identify how cultural perceptions and attitudes are transmitted.


Northwest College maintains that the abilities to read critically and write well are fundamental to academic success in college and pursuit of a subsequent career. Consequently, each student must complete two courses that meet the English General Education requirements.

The initial composition course ensures that students write competently and understand the nature of academic writing. The second course refines analytical writing skills by either introducing students to the study of literature or helping them develop specialized writing skills (e.g., research, technical writing, etc.).

For students meeting AAS degree requirements, the second-level course will focus primarily on the second and fourth outcomes listed below.


Students will:

  • Produce informative, analytical, and critical prose in response to a particular task or audience.
  • Produce writing that conforms to task specific conventions.
  • Use appropriate research skills.
  • Observe the conventions of standard written English.


Humanities courses examine and seek to understand human experience, human aspirations and achievements, and human expressions, such as written, oral, and/or visual texts, artifacts, and cultural practices. These courses approach their subjects from an interdisciplinary perspective and within the historical context of human values, thought, and interaction. Humanities courses provide students with the tools for logically analyzing, discussing, and debating moral questions, ethical issues, and human values.


Students will:

  • Demonstrate the ability to analyze and discuss humanities texts (including cultural artifacts and practices).
  • Demonstrate an awareness of different moral and ethical points of view.
  • Reason, present, and write clearly and persuasively about humanities topics.
  • Describe how culture affects human interaction.

Lab Sciences

Science courses provide students with an introduction to the processes and principles that scientists typically use in understanding the natural world. Laboratory courses require practice in understanding relationships between events and observing the effects that result from experimental activities. These courses emphasize the collection and interpretation of data, using mathematics, statistics, and the fundamental laws of the natural sciences.


Students will:

  • Describe and apply currently accepted fundamental theories in at least one discipline of a biological or physical science.
  • Apply the scientific method.
  • Collect and correctly interpret experimental data using sound scientific principles.
  • Follow written protocols to complete a natural science experiment.
  • Use lab equipment safely and appropriately.


At Northwest College, Mathematics courses study systems and processes that focus on using symbolic representation in problem solving and on drawing conclusions from numeric data by inductive and deductive reasoning. These courses elevate students’ abilities to analyze quantitative and symbolic patterns and relationships, enabling them to function competently in an increasingly numeric society. The first two outcomes apply to courses meeting the AAS degree requirements. Courses that satisfy the AS or AA degree requirements must contain all five outcomes.


Students will:

  • Apply the mathematical skills necessary to be successful in the subsequent coursework required for their chosen profession.
  • Choose the appropriate mathematical problem-solving technique within the context of a practical situation and interpret the results.
  • Apply and demonstrate an understanding of numeric and symbolic manipulation to algebraic expressions, relations, and functions.
  • Describe the constraints of an abstract mathematical situation, and derive a solution by identifying the appropriate algorithmic strategy.
  • Employ college-level mathematical reasoning and terminology to explain, interpret, and represent mathematical situations in a variety of ways.

Social Sciences

Graduates of Northwest College will understand and be familiar with human social conditions. Using empirical methods, the Social Sciences analyze past and present behavior of people in an attempt to discover patterns and principles. The Social Sciences explore the physical environment; social, political, and economic institutions; the development and understanding of societal evolution; human experiences; and the development of ideas and culture in a social context. Social Science courses offer opportunities to enhance our understanding of human behavior and sharpen our perceptions of the social world.


Students will:

  • Describe the diversity of human experience by examining the dynamic effects of demographic, geo-political, linguistic, social, psychological, educational, criminal, economic, cultural, and/or religious aspects of human existence in a contemporary or historical context.
  • Contrast various conceptions of justice, equality, and fairness as they have been applied to human behavior in social settings and relationships, utilizing the empirical method of research and explanation.
  • Exercise critical thinking, writing, oral, and reading abilities to develop and/or critique arguments on social issues.
  • Apply the tradition, methods, and techniques of empirical research, analysis, and presentation typically utilized in the Social Sciences.

Visual and Performing Arts

Visual and Performing Arts involve visual, musical, theatrical, and other artistic expressions of a culture. Often examined for their own characteristics and history, the arts also provide insight into cultural attitudes and values. The stories artists tell through music, images, drama, text, and other artistic means provide symbolic ways of examining the world. Such expressions explore notions of what is, what has been, and what should be in a culture. The arts expand a student’s personal and social frame of reference. Through study of the arts, students develop such capacities as their imagination, intellect, emotions, creativity, physical skills, analytical abilities, historical knowledge, and cultural understanding. After taking classes that satisfy Visual and Performing Arts requirements, students should see, hear, and understand the world differently.


Students will:

  • Utilize appropriate terminology from art, music, theater, or other artistic media in discussions and writings.
  • Evaluate artistic works and performances using knowledge of appropriate design elements.
  • Draw on their own individual experiences, creativity, and imagination to create or write about artistic or musical works.
  • Articulate reasons for their emotional reactions to artistic works or performances.
  • Relate ideas expressed through artistic media to history and expression of those ideas in other disciplines.
  • Express in writing, presentation, or performance, ways that the arts reveal cultural functions, values, and beliefs.


Graduates of Northwest College should understand how behavior can influence health and wellness and the impact of physical activity and inactivity. Health is a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, not merely the absence of disease or infirmity; wellness is an active, lifelong process of becoming aware of and making choices about a healthier and more fulfilling life. Active living and physical activity for health constitute major components of a healthy lifestyle and general health promotion and protection. The knowledge and experience gained from Wellness Education courses will enable students to make informed decisions about their own health as it relates to their quality of life and longevity.

Wellness courses fall into two categories:

Activity-based Courses — Activity-based courses aim at promoting physiological health, as reflected in cardiovascular functioning, muscular strength and conditioning, motor coordination skills, and flexibility. Activity-based courses involve regular participation in the activity.

Nonactivity-based Courses — Nonactivity-based courses focus on the integration of cognitive and experiential learning, connecting experience with strategies for reflection, integration, and continuation.

Students may fulfill the Wellness Requirement in one of three ways:


Students will:

  • Demonstrate competency in developing and participating in a personal fitness program.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of the principles specific to attaining and maintaining good health and fitness throughout life.


Associate of Arts Degree (AA)

The Associate of Arts degree provides a broad-based education for those planning to transfer to a four-year institution and for those seeking a two-year general education. The Associate of Arts degree may be taken in General Studies or Liberal Studies (see Degree Worksheet ). A number of AA programs are available through various academic divisions. The Associate of Arts is the best choice for individuals who are undecided and for those who do not yet know where they will transfer.

Fulfill all-college degree requirements.

Summary of AA Degree Requirements:

  American and Wyoming Government 3
  United States from 1865 3
  * US/Wyoming History combination 6
  English 6
  Humanities/Visual and Performing Arts 9
  Mathematics 3
  ** Comparative Cultural Awareness 6
  Science 4
  Social Science 6
  Wellness Education 2
    TOTAL 39-42
  Program Core and Electives 22-25

* Three credits may apply toward the Social Science requirement.

** Three credits may apply toward the Social Science, Humanities, or Visual and Performing Arts requirement.

Associate of Arts/Science in General Studies

Individuals who meet all requirements of the AA/AS degree will be awarded the degree with the designation of General Studies.

Associate of Arts in Liberal Studies

This course of study is identical to the AA in General Studies, except the Comparative Cultural Awareness category is increased to 11 credits. Eight credits must be taken in a single foreign language; three credits must be taken in a non-foreign language course from the approved list of Comparative Cultural Awareness courses. The non-foreign language course only may be double-counted to meet another appropriate degree requirement. This degree option becomes particularly important as many four-year colleges and universities have instituted foreign language requirements for graduation with a bachelor of arts degree.

Associate of Science Degree (AS)

The Associate of Science degree provides a specialized program of study for those planning to transfer to a four-year institution. Generally, the degree aligns itself to the special requirements of a preprofessional course of study at a four-year institution. A number of AS programs are available.

Fulfill all-college degree requirements.

Summary of AS Degree Requirements:

  American and Wyoming Government 3
  United States from 1865 3
  * US/Wyoming History combination 6
  English 6
  Humanities/Social Science/Visual and Preforming Arts 9
  Mathematics/Science 10
  ** Comparative Cultural Awareness 1-4
  Wellness Education 2

TOTAL 31-37

  Program Core and Electives 27-33

* Three credits may apply toward the Social Science requirement.

** Three credits may apply toward the Social Science, Humanities, or Visual and Performing Arts requirement.

Associate of Applied Science Degree (AAS)

The Associate of Applied Science degree prepares an individual for employment opportunities upon graduation. All applied science degree programs offer a concentration with a required curriculum.

Fulfill all-college degree requirements.

Summary of AAS Degree Requirements:

  American and Wyoming Government 3
  United States from 1865 3
  * US/Wyoming History combination 6
  English/Business Communication 6
  Humanities/Social Science/Visual and Performing Arts/Science 6
  Mathematics 3
  Wellness Education 2
    TOTAL 20-23
  Program Core and Electives: Students must complete the required course of study within the selected field in order to receive an AAS degree.

* Three credits may apply toward the Social Science requirement.

NOTE: Some universities now have transfer degree options for students who have completed the AAS. Discuss options with advisors, career and transfer staff, or universities of interest.

Northwest College Certificate

The Northwest College Certificate provides recognition for those who have completed 60 credits or above of college level work but who have not fulfilled degree requirements.

To be awarded the Northwest College Certificate, individuals must: 

  • Complete 60 credits of college-level coursework with an overall grade point average of at least 2.0.
  • Take 15 of the last 30 credits to be applied toward the certificate from Northwest College.
  • Take a minimum of one course from five of the seven following areas:
    • Humanities
    • Mathematics
    • Comparative Cultural Awareness
    • Science
    • Social Science
    • Visual and Performing Arts
    • Wellness Education

Northwest College Skills Certificates

Northwest College Skills Certificates provide a concentrated amount of college level coursework in a highly specialized area of study within a designated period of time.

Certificates vary from 6-59 credits depending upon the selected area of study. Skills certificates vary according to the needs of students, the community, and the economy. Students should check individual departments for specific certificate requirements in a given area. College-level courses taken for a certificate may also be applied to a Northwest College AA, AS, or AAS degree.

Comprehensive Skills Certificates

To be awarded the Northwest College Comprehensive Skills Certificate, individuals must:

  • Complete the minimum number (30-59) of required credits of coursework with an overall grade point average of at least 2.0 and a minimum “C-” in all certificate core courses.
  • Complete a minimum of six credits of general education courses.

Skills Certificates

To be awarded the Northwest College Skills Certificate, individuals must:

  • Complete the minimum number (six- 30) of required credits of coursework with a minimum 2.0 GPA overall in the certificate courses and a minimum “C-” in all certificate core courses.
  • For Certificates of 6-16 credits, students must earn 50 percent of the credit at NWC.
  • For Certificates of 17-30 credits, students must earn 40 percent of the credit at NWC.

General Education Requirements

Click here to view the General Education Requirements .

Application for Graduation

Candidates for graduation are required to submit an application for graduation to the Registrar by the deadlines listed below to ensure all requirements can be met on time.

For December graduation   September 15
For May graduation   March 15
For July graduation   May 3

Multiple Majors

Students who have completed all of the requirements for more than one major may request that their diplomas and transcripts list all of the majors completed.

Earning A Second Degree

Students who wish to earn a second degree from Northwest College may count 49 credits from the first degree toward the second degree. General education and specific program requirements for the second degree must be satisfied (second degree = 79 credits and third degree = 94 credits).

Catalog Under Which a Student May Graduate

A student may graduate from Northwest College by meeting degree requirements of the catalog in place at the time of initial enrollment, or may change one time only to the degree requirements of the catalog in place at the time of graduation. A student who does not take classes for three or more consecutive years must use the degree requirements of the catalog in place at the time of re-entry to Northwest College. (See Nursing, A.A.S.  section for special requirements of this program.)

Cancellation of Classes

Northwest College reserves the right to cancel any scheduled courses in which the enrollment is insufficient to warrant offering the course or to change the days, time, location, or instructor of any course.