What is the Community College of the Air Force?

The Community College of the Air Force is a program run by the federal government in conjunction with the USAF that awards Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degrees to students. The degrees are awarded in association with Air University, which is an accredited institution with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).

Resource: Top 15 Online Colleges for Military and G.I. Bill 2015

A History of the CCAF

The USAF began looking at gaining accreditation for its programs in the early 1970s. The Air Training Command (ATC), the USAF, and representatives from Air University met several times with the purpose of helping non-commissioned officers (NCOs) gain college training while serving in the USAF. The meetings eventually resulted in the recommendation that a college be created for the purpose of educating NCOs. After the plan had been finalized in 1972, Randolph AFB in Texas was chosen for the school’s future location.

At first, the college only offered certificate programs, but the curriculums for those programs went well beyond the traditional certificate level that a student might see in a civilian school. The USAF eventually decided to ask Congress for degree-granting authority, and the school would be granted this authority in early 1977. A few years later, the CCAF would gain regional accreditation with SACS. For a few decades, the school was only open to members of the USAF, but that changed in 2010 when the school was opened to all branches of the military.

Different Programs Offered by CCAF

Education offered through CCAF focuses on technical degrees, and the AAS degrees offered by the school cover five general areas. Those career areas include Public and Support Services, Electronics and Telecommunications, Aircraft and Missile Maintenance, Logistics and Resources, and Allied Health. Within those general areas, the CCAF offers students a choice of more than 65 different degree programs. The way the programs work is that students will take classes in technical education at the USAF’s schools and supplement their degree with classes taken at civilian colleges.

Over the years, the school has made changes to its degree programs to give students greater opportunities inside the USAF, as well as after they left the service or completed their time in the USAF. A program was implemented in the mid-2000s where students who graduated from the CCAF could then attend a four-year college and benefit from having their entire 60 credits transfer to the next school. This change increased the popularity of the CCAF since there were so many schools participating in the Air University Associate-to-Baccalaureate Cooperative.

Today’s CCAF

Over the past forty years, the CCAF has undergone expansion, changes, and improvements that have increased the viability of the degrees offered by the school. According to the school’s official website, the college is a partner to an impressive 108 schools affiliated with the Air Force and more than 80 Education Service Offices around the world. Students of the CCAF also have access to more than 1,500 civilian schools with somewhere around 300,000 service members taking classes.

Incredibly, the CCAF awards more than 22,000 AAS degrees each year from its 68 programs, which means it’s the largest community college system in the entire world. The mission of the Community College of the Air Force is to provide job-related degrees in various areas of science and technology to enhance “mission readiness,” as well as to help service members transition to a civilian job after serving in the USAF or another branch of the United States military.