May 25, 2024  
2011-2013 Catalog-EXPIRED 

Higher Education Overview

Grand Rapids Community College is authorized to grant certificates and Associate degrees. Associate degrees are often referred to as “two-year” degrees. The use of the terms “two year college” and “four-year institution” is common. This is not an indication that degree completion is required in two calendar years or four but simply that a degree could be earned within that time frame. In fact, there are generally no time constraints for completing degree requirements, particularly at the community college level. As always, there are some exceptions, usually in health programs of study and law enforcement.

The most common two-year degree is the Associate in Arts (AA), which refers to a program of study that includes no less than 62 semester credits. GRCC also awards several other Associate degrees: the Associate in Science (AS), Music (AM), Nursing (ADN), Business (AB), Applied Arts and Sciences (AAAS), Associate of Fine Arts in Fine Arts (AFAFA), Associate of Fine Arts in Photography (AFAP), and General Studies (AGS). Requirements for each degree are described in detail in the General Requirements section .

The Associate in Arts and the Associate in Science are the two degrees most often referred to as transfer degrees. These degrees include a distribution of credits that fulfills general education requirements for many four-year colleges and universities in Michigan. This general education component of the Associate in Arts and the Associate in Science degrees is referred to as the MACRAO and consists of 30 credits. The MACRAO is discussed in detail here .

Courses required for certificate programs, generally 30-32 credits, are often found in their counterpart Associate of Applied Arts and Sciences degree. The AAAS is designed to prepare students for employment. Many of these associate degrees may also be transferred to four-year programs.

Students attending GRCC may choose their course load. To be considered full-time, a student must be enrolled in 12 or more credits for the semester. Part-time enrollment would consist of any number of credits less than 12 in any given semester. The number of credits for which a student enrolls influences financial aid. Some scholarships and insurance carriers may require full-time enrollment.

GRCC acts as a bridge to the bachelor’s degree. The bachelor’s degree acts as the step to graduate work that would lead to a master’s degree or doctorate in a particular field.

Help in choosing a major can be found at the Counseling and Career Center on the third floor of the Student Center. The Counseling and Career Center offers individual appointments, evaluation opportunities, seminars, and workshops to help students clarify career decisions.

GRCC College Catalog
GRCC Transfer Guide

GRCC publishes two documents designed to help students select and enroll in courses: the Transfer Guide and the College Catalog. The College Catalog includes a section called COURSE DESCRIPTIONS. The Transfer Guide is designed to inform students interested in transferring of the desired course choices for their major related to their transfer institution. Following is an example and explanation of the information.


Transfer Information

In order to verify transfer credits, students are responsible for contacting the college or university to which they wish to transfer. Each institution reserves the right to make changes in transfer requirements without prior notification.

Students who plan to attend another college or university should:

  1. Utilize GRCC Transfer Guide and online resources such as the GRCC Counseling and Career Center web page. The Michigan Transfer Network is also useful as an online source to verify transferability and equivalencies.
  2. Discuss transfer requirements with a GRCC counselor.
  3. Confer with college representatives who visit GRCC.
  4. Apply for transfer admission well in advance of the anticipated date of transfer.
  5. File a request with Student Records – Office of the Registrar that an official transcript be mailed to the transfer institution.
  6. Be aware that the transfer institution reserves the right to recalculate grades and grade point averages.
  7. Request the Student Records Office to note that the MACRAO has been met, if applicable, on transcript.


Although most colleges and universities accept credits from other institutions that are accredited, not all courses transfer everywhere. Since GRCC is institutionally accredited, its credits are more likely to transfer than otherwise. However, most receiving institutions have certain grade requirements for transfer, and they have the right to reject credits they don’t recognize. A college of arts and sciences might not be willing to accept a course in a field they don’t have—although some colleges will accept “unrecognized” credits as elective credits. Developmental courses usually do not transfer. The receiving institution decides if a GRCC course will be considered developmental at that institution. Counselors can help students determine the transferability of particular courses. Students can also utilize the Michigan Transfer Network at

Do All Colleges Teach the Same Courses the Same Way?

Most colleges and universities offer some of the same classes; for example, Freshman Composition, General Psychology, College Algebra. Often the titles are not the same, but there is a transfer equivalency—which means the content is similar enough that one institution will transfer the course from another institution. However, there is neither standard content nor standard method of teaching for all colleges. While some states have agreements that courses at two-year colleges will be the same as those of the same name or number at four-year colleges, Michigan does not. Consequently, it’s possible for what appears to be the same course at two different institutions to cover different material and opinions and to have different styles of teaching. This diversity is one of the strengths of higher education in the United States.

General Education for Transfer Students

Virtually all colleges and universities require a variety of courses in English, the humanities, the biological and physical sciences, and the social sciences. The sequence of these courses is termed general education. General education courses serve to broaden the intellectual background of the average student regardless of the specific subject area in which the student may be interested.

Typically, four-year colleges and universities have two sets of requirements: (a) the general education requirements which all students must fulfill and the majority of which are taken during the freshman and sophomore years, and (b) the requirements of a specialization, commonly known as the major, the majority of which are taken during the junior and senior years.

Determining Transfer Status

Michigan Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (MACRAO) Agreement

The MACRAO Agreement is a contract between community colleges and most four-year institutions in Michigan. Fulfilling the credits in the subject areas required by the MACRAO agreement will satisfy the general education requirements at many Michigan colleges and universities. The student’s transcript is then marked as having met the MACRAO standards. Since requirements regarding acceptance of the MACRAO may differ from school to school, students are advised to meet with GRCC counselors for specific advice to help make informed choices.

Keep in mind:

  1. The majority of transfer institutions accept the MACRAO agreement with or without the earning of the full Associate degree. A request to have the MACRAO stamp affixed to a transcript must be made to the Student Records Office.
  2. There may be additional requirements at the chosen transfer school. Commonly, these requirements are associated with a junior-level writing course or a course of writing within the major.
  3. Upon admission, some institutions may still require a competency test in certain areas.
  4. Some institutions have specific majors that require additional courses and tests prior to being admitted into that major. See a GRCC counselor for more information.

GRCC counselors are the best source of information about requirements at four-year schools. Many GRCC faculty members are also familiar with requirements at various schools in their area of specialty. Meeting with advisors at the four-year colleges a student is considering will also help in understanding what additional requirements could be completed while still at GRCC.

Students are responsible for their own academic decisions, so it’s important that they seek accurate information.

General Education for Transferability

The primary source of transfer information is contained in the GRCC Transfer Guide, updated annually.

This part of the Catalog contains information about the specific requirements of many four-year colleges and universities in Michigan. Even though the information has been carefully compiled, Grand Rapids Community College cannot guarantee its accuracy nor assume any responsibility resulting from reliance on the information herein provided. Because colleges and universities often change their entrance and graduation requirements in order to meet changing circumstances, students who intend to transfer should consult the most current catalogs of those schools. Therefore, the information provided here should be construed as a preliminary guide in a student’s transfer-planning process.


Associate in Arts Degree with MACRAO Group Requirements

For Associate’s Degree Group Distribution Requirements, go here . For MACRAO Agreement requirements, go here .

Group I – Humanities:

Group II – Social Sciences:

Group III – Natural Sciences and Mathematics:

Note: Courses identified as “non-lab” cannot be used to satisfy “laboratory science” requirements. Check Course Descriptions for additional lab and non-lab options.

Colleges/universities for which transfer information is available are as follows:

Alma College
Aquinas College
Calvin College
Central Michigan University
Concordia University
Cornerstone University
Davenport University
Eastern Michigan University
Ferris State University
Grand Valley State University
Historically Black Colleges and Universities
Historically Hispanic Serving Institutions
Hope College
Kaplan University
Kendall College of Art Design
Kettering University
Kuyper College
Lake Superior State University
Michigan State University
Michigan Technological University
Northern Michigan University
Northwood University
Oakland University
Palmer College of Chiropractic
Saginaw Valley State University
Siena Heights University
Spring Arbor University
University of Detroit Mercy
University of Michigan
University of Phoenix
Wayne State University
Western Michigan University

MACRAO: Michigan Transfer Network

Students, parents, high school counselors, and college advisors may now view online how college courses will transfer from one school to another. The Michigan Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (MACRAO), in cooperation with Michigan State University, has designed a “transfer wizard.” Students may select classes knowing in advance which Michigan institutions may award transfer credit. See

Transfer information is available in the Transfer Guide in the following areas:

Advertising/Public Relations
Apparel Merchandising and Design
Architectural Illustration
Art and Design
Athletic Training
Aviation Flight Science
Behavioral Science
Business/Business Administration
Cell & Molecular Biology
Clinical Laboratory Sciences
Computer Information Systems
Computers & Mathematical Science
Computer Networking/Network Security
Computer Science
Construction Management
Criminal Justice
Culinary Management
Digital Animation and Game Design
Environmental Studies
Facility Management
Family Studies
Fashion Merchandising
Film and Video
Fisheries and Wildlife
Food Service Administration
Health Administration/Public Health
Healthcare Systems Administration
Hotel Management
Industrial Technology
Interior Architecture
International Relations
Legal Studies
Liberal Arts and Liberal Studies
Medical Imaging
Medical Records Administration
Modern Language
Mortuary Science
Music and Music Education
Natural Resource Management
Occupational Safety and Health
Occupational Therapy
Physical Therapy
Physician Assistant
Physics and Applied Physics
Political Science
Public Administration
Social Work
Sustainable Business
Textiles and Apparel Studies
Therapeutic Recreation