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Ask an Advisor: What Classes do I Take?

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Ask an Advisor: How do I know what classes to take toward my program?

This month, Rio Salado College launches “Ask an Advisor,” a regular column where Rio Salado’s Academic Advising team answers frequently asked questions from students. 

The most common question an academic advisor gets is, “What classes should I take?” 

With many different classes to choose from, it can be difficult to know what classes to take to meet the requirements for your certificate or degree. 

Advisors help students navigate the many choices available by determining the credits needed for graduation. If you are not sure what program area you would like to study, connect with Rio Salado’s Counseling and Career Services.

Education Pathway Options

There are many academic programs depending on your career and educational goals, including certificates, associate degrees and degrees with an emphasis for university transfer.

  • Certificates: A college certificate is a career-focused educational program. The coursework tends to be compressed, focusing almost entirely on a specific topic. Certificates require a number of specific classes. Sometimes students can choose between several class options. 

  • AAS Degrees: Associate of Applied Science degrees are designed to give students skills and knowledge in a career field. These degrees consist of required classes, restricted electives, and general education classes. Restricted electives are chosen from a list provided with the degree requirements.

  • Transfer Degrees: Rio Salado College and the Maricopa County Community College District have university transfer agreements with the three Arizona public universities and many other universities. For university transfer you can pursue a degree with an emphasis area. For example, if you plan to earn a bachelor's degree in communications at the university, you would work on an Associate in Arts, Emphasis in Communication at Rio Salado College. The requirements for these transfer degrees consist of classes required at your future university, general education, restricted electives, and electives. The number of electives available will depend on your future university major. Some transfer goals may not allow for electives.

Make a Plan

There are many factors that go into selecting classes for a particular program. See programs and degrees to view your requirements. You may also use the Degree Progress Report to view your remaining requirements. When you have choices, search for classes in the schedule that you will enjoy and will also satisfy the requirements of a program. 

Future plans and long-term goals should also be taken into account when deciding what classes to take.Your advisor can help put your choices into a semester-by-semester plan so you can see what you will need to take and when you will complete your program. 

To find your advisor, log into your RioLearn page and look at the right hand column. There, you can view your advisor's email, phone number, and an appointment schedule. If you have not yet been assigned an advisor, call (480) 517-8580 or email

If you have attended other colleges and universities, be sure to have all official transcripts sent to the Admissions, Records, and Registration Department, as these previous classes may apply to your program.

David Hall is the Director for the Academic Advisement Department at Rio Salado College. He can be reached at

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