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Civilian Associate Degree Frequently Asked Questions

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 Q01. What is the purpose of this program?  

A1. This program is also known as the Civilian Associate Degree Program or CADP. It is designed to help Air Force civilians who have not completed a degree reach their full leadership potential, by providing at little to no-cost Associate of Applied Science Degree in Air Force Leadership and Management Studies.  The program has the following learning outcomes:

  • - Demonstrate comprehension of theories and competencies that support the development of Air Force civilian leaders.
  • - Demonstrate comprehension of management principles, processes, and practices within the Air Force organizational environment.
  • - Demonstrate an understanding of concepts, values and actions that define a professional civilian Airman.   


 Q02. How does this program work?

A2. This 60 credit hour program is designed to be completed in a fully online format in approximately 2 to 2.5 years.

Students will complete program major requirements by completing:

  • - 30 credit hours (10 courses) program major courses taught online through Air University  
  • - 30 credit hours of general education/elective coursework (completed independently by students)


The program major courses for the degree works in a lock-step format.  All students in each cohort take the same course together during the same term.   The ten required courses cannot be transferred in and must be taken online from AU.  A typical AU course consists of:

  • - One 1 to 1.5 hour webinars each week. Upon selection to the program, students will select one of three webinar (online class) session times (early morning, middle of the day, or early evening) to best accommodate both the student’s and their work center’s schedules,  
  • - Two hours of discussion boards, 
  • - Three hours of assigned readings weekly,
  • - Two hours of a work-centered learning lab (will not take time away from your primary duties), and
  • - Two hours of class projects.  


To complete the 30 credit hours of general education/elective courses, students will study and test on their own time, either during the 5 month prep phase or at the same time they are completing program major courses with AU faculty. Students will be provided guidance on applying for AF civTA and accessing AF-provided study resources once in the program.   To complete General Education and elective requirements, CADP students can use AF civ TA in two ways: 

  • - The Air Force will pay for one attempt at a CLEP/DSST test for each of the general education/elective course requirements.  If the student does not pass on the first attempt, the student may be responsible for funding additional attempts of the same CLEP/DSST test. 
  • - Alternatively, students may elect to take a course from a local or online university and transfer those credits into the program.  AF civTA may be available for this.  CADP students may receive 100% civTA for general education and elective requirements.  However, students are responsible for all other fees, including but not limited to books, registration fees, and transportation. Additionally, civTA must not exceed the annual student ceiling (cap) for civTA.


Some other key items to know about this program:  

  • - Students are expected to continually participate in the program every term until graduation is achieved (note: there is a process to request up to a year break from the program, if needed). 
  • - While it is hoped that students will receive limited duty time (approximately 3 hrs. per week) to attend webinars, this program can be completed entirely during off-duty time.  
  • - Students must arrange to receive 10-15 minutes per week of mentoring from their supervisor (or other identified mentor) to help solidify the classroom learning and apply it to his/her individual career field


 Q03. Is this degree program accredited?  

A3.  Yes.  This program has received regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). The degree will have the school’s name “Air University.”

 Q04. What is E-learning?  

A4.  E-learning, or online learning, means that you participate in the course in a virtual setting.  This program is designed to be completed entirely online by interacting with faculty and peers through remote computer access.  You will never have a need to go TDY or attend class in a physical classroom setting as a result of this program. This format gives individuals the opportunity to learn at the time and location that best fits their hectic schedule.

 Q05. Who is this program geared towards? 

A5. This program is specifically for DAF civilians who desire to enhance their career, but who do not currently possess a college degree.  The primary audience will be full-time permanent appropriated or non-appropriated fund employees, who do not currently possess an Associate or Bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university.  Successful students:

  • - Have 10-15 hours a week of off-duty time available in their daily schedule to devote to CADP to read assigned textbooks, complete assignments, write papers, and attend courses.
  • - Are comfortable with computers and interacting in an online environment.
  • - Coordinate routinely with their academic advisor and their faculty and are comfortable doing so via email, phone, or online chat.
  • - Are proactive in attending class, turning in assignments on time, and keeping up with assigned readings.
  • - Take initiative to keep themselves on schedule. General education and elective requirements are done by the student individually, not in a CADP class.  While there is no requirement for students to have any general education or elective credits to transfer into the program, some students with three or more credit hours of general education transfer credit work find the work load a bit easier, since they have less to accomplish in the two year period.
 Q06. Who is eligible to apply this year? 

A6. Employees must have, as of the application deadline:

  • - Status as a full-time permanent appropriated or non-appropriated fund DAF civilian in all grade levels
  • - An acceptable rating on most recent performance appraisal
  • - High school diploma, GED or equivalent
  • - No post-secondary degree from a regionally accredited 2 or 4-year college or university; however, you may have some college credit
  • - A signed Learning Agreement.  Supervisor’s signature on the learning agreement represents supervisor’s: 


  • 1) Approval to apply
  • 2) Agreement to provide mentoring throughout the program 
  • 3) Assistance in gaining access to a government computer for webinar attendance and coursework completion, and  
  • 4) Support to take 3 hours per week of online classes during duty hours.  NOTE:  If mission requirements are such that the supervisor cannot authorize 3 hours a week of duty time for the webinars, this should not prevent civilians from applying.  Arrangements can be made to have student attend online classes either early morning, early evening, or possibly during their lunch hour, as best fits the scheduling requirements of the student’s office/unit.
 Q07. Who should consider applying?

A7.   DAF civilians who are considering making the DAF their career and desire additional knowledge in the areas of leadership, management, and airpower should consider CADP.   Ideal applicants are eager to learn and have time available to dedicate quality effort to this program.  CADP is a time commitment for over two full years.  For the majority of the program, students have a week off between terms and about three weeks off at the end of each calendar year.  This program is designed to be completed without breaks. Note: students may request an admin hold for up to a year during the program, if needed.

 Q08. Why can’t military members apply for this program? 

A8. Enlisted members already have access to an Associate Degree program through the Community College of the Air Force (CCAF) and officers already possess an undergraduate degree when they are commissioned. This program has been designed to fill a gap in DAF civilian professional development.  The program teaches the same leadership and management concepts to civilians that military members may receive through their various commissioning education and professional military education (PME) courses.  Consequently, military members are not the target population for this program and are ineligible to apply.  

 Q09. Is there a cost to attend this program?

A9.   There are no tuition or book fees associated with the core program curriculum provided by Air University.  CADP offers the 10 program major course in a completely online format at little to no cost to the student or their unit.  All learning resources will be provided through the school or through Air Force eLearning.  Students will be responsible for providing supplies as needed to accomplish their course work.  Supplies may include internet access, computer, printer, paper, CAC card reader or other items to support interaction in an online learning environment

Additionally, students can complete their general education/elective course requirements through funded credit by exams (CLEP/DSST).  If a student fails their first attempt at a credit by exam, students will be responsible for the cost of subsequent tests in the same subject.  Should a student choose to attend a course (in class or on-line) versus completing by credit by exam, the student may request civilian tuition assistance (civTA) from the AF to cover tuition costs.  Currently, CADP students can request 100% civTA for classes fulfilling program degree requirements.  In accordance with civTA policy, students will be responsible for paying all fees and book costs associated with the course and/or application fees to enroll in the school. Additionally, civTA must not exceed the annual student ceiling (cap) for civTA. 

 Q10. How much of a time commitment will this degree require?

A10.  Students can expect to spend up to 15 hours per week working on course requirements.   This includes webinars (online classes), readings, discussion board postings, responding to peers and instructors online, working on class projects, writing papers, and preparing for oral presentations.  Students will also be expected to take one CLEP/DSST test per term, so they will need to spend some additional time preparing for those tests as well.

 Q11. Will I accomplish the course during duty time or off-duty time?

A11.  Both for some students.  However, the majority of course requirements will be accomplished off-duty.   Students will be required to attend one 1 to 1.5 hour webinars (online class) each week for a total of 3 hours per week. Webinar times will be offered throughout the day, from early morning to lunch time to early evening hours, depending upon time zone of the student, to help accommodate both student work center requirements and those students working overseas.   At times, students will also be required to complete class projects whose focus is related to the work environment.  Time to accomplish activities in support of these projects may be necessary during duty hours, but these activities should be work-related and in support of the work center’s mission. All remaining course requirements will be completed during off-duty time.  However, supervisors are authorized to allow some time for coursework during the duty day, should the mission allow, in accordance   DODI1035.01_DAFI36-816, Civilian Telework Program, section 2, DODI1400.25V610_AFI36-807, Scheduling of Work, Holiday Observances and Overtime, section 4.3(a), enclosure (3) section 1, section 5(h), and the DODI1400.25V630_AFI36-815, Administrative Leave, section 6.2.(a),(b). Note: Time spent beyond duty hours on class work (unless related to the work center’s mission) is not eligible for overtime/Compensatory time (under 5 CFR 551.423 and 5 CFR 550.111).

 Q12. What equipment do I need?

A12.  Because this is a fully online program, full-time computer access and comfort/knowledge in using a computer are essential.  Students will need:

  • - A computer with reliable, quick internet access and up-to-date web browsers, such as Chrome and Edge
  • - Access to Microsoft Word & PowerPoint
  • - Ability to open/read pdf documents on their computer
  • - CAC access at times, especially during initial set up of accounts
  • - May need a headset to participate in online interactive sessions as well as watching videos without disrupting coworkers
  • - Access to a back-up computer – at home, the base library, AFRC, or other location – in the event that their primary computer has connectivity issues


Students must ensure they have reliable, consistent computer access after duty hours, either at work or at home, to complete assignments.   Computer access throughout the duration of the program ensures there is no disruption in the student’s ability to complete course requirements on time.     

 Q13. What courses can I transfer into the program?

A13.  Students will be able to transfer up to 30 credit hours into the program to satisfy the general education and elective requirements.  These requirements include:  Written Communication, Oral Communication, College Math, Social Science, Humanities, Intro to American Government, Intro to Computing, and 3 program-related electives.  Students should not register for or take any courses after being accepted into the program and without coordinating with their academic advisor.

 Q14. How does this compare to the Community College of the Air Force (CCAF)?

A14.  Like CCAF, this program is sponsored by the DAF and awards a degree at the Associate level.  However, because current law does not allow civilians to attend CCAF, this program has been created in a separate organization of Air University under a completely different authority that allows for Air Force civilians participation.  Consequently, only DAF civilians are eligible for this program.  While military members receive some credits for their technical training and OJT/upgrade training (training specifically related to their job) through CCAF, civilians will not have that option in this program.  Unlike CCAF, this program will offer only one degree, the Associate of Applied Science in Air Force Leadership and Management Studies.  Students will be required to take courses related to the discipline and will not get credit for any work-related training previously offered by the USAF.  Students, however, may get transfer credit (if approved) for equivalent courses taken previously from any regionally accredited college or university to include CCAF.   


 Q15. Will the credits/degree I receive in this program be transferable to another school?

A15.  This degree is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.  Because of this, the program’s courses are eligible for transfer credit to other colleges and universities if students desire to continue their education by pursuing a bachelor’s degree.  Just like any accredited school, acceptance of transfer credit by other colleges and universities is outside our control and subject to each specific college or university’s policies on transfer credit.  Therefore, this question would have to be answered by the university you hope to transfer into.  Many universities are expected to recognize transfer credits from a regionally accredited college or university; however, the amount of credit that may transfer varies based on each university’s transfer policy. 

 Q16. How do I apply?

A16. Air Force Civilians meeting eligibility requirements can apply to the program through Air University Student Information System (AUSIS) online admission application.  

The application consists of:  

  1. 1) Applicant Worksheet, 
  2. 2) Official high school and college transcript if applicable  
  3. 3) Learning Agreement signed by the employee and the supervisor. Forms can be found at: myPers under the Force Development,
 Q17. What is the Learning Agreement that I have to turn in with my application?

A17.  The learning agreement is an agreement between the student, the supervisor, and the school.  It is the supervisor’s opportunity to express his or her support for the student and their ability to complete this program by agreeing to provide a small amount of time (for most courses it will be about 15 minutes a week) mentoring the employee in discussions on class concepts and how they relate to the Air Force and/or the individual’s work center, as well as reviewing and discussing major class projects or reports.  The program has been designed that way to increase the student’s learning.   A mentor brings knowledge and understanding of the Air Force and leadership; a mentor should be, but is not required to be, the student’s supervisor.  Because the mentor will at no time affect the student’s academic grade, there is no degree requirement for the mentor.  Additionally, the learning agreement ensures the supervisor’s commitment to provide the student with up to 3 hours per week during duty time (subject to mission requirements) for online class participation as well as access to a government computer.  

 Q18. What is the Continued Service Agreement?   

A18.  Each student will be required to complete a Continued Service Agreement (CSA) when they are formally accepted into the program.  As part of the CSA, the student agrees to remain a DAF civilian employee for one year after the conclusion of the program, in return for receiving the training that this program provides. This agreement can travel with you if you move to another federal agency. This is a standard requirement for Civilian Development Education lasting longer than a predetermined time period.  Please see AFI 36-401 section 2.7, as well as the additional guidance on CSAs that can be found on and myPers ( under Civilian Force Development, for additional information.

 Q19. What happens if I do not fulfill all or some of the Continued Service Requirement?

A19.  The recoupment policy states that graduates who leave the DAF before completing the established CSA will be required to reimburse the DAF for any tuition, administrative overhead costs, and other related expenses (excluding salary) paid in connection with the training, which is currently estimated at $600 per course.  The CSA can be transferred if the student leaves the Air Force to enter the service of another Federal agency or other organization in any branch of the government. If a student leaves government service but is able to complete a portion of their CSA, the amount of reimbursement will be reduced on a pro-rated basis for the percentage of completion of the obligated service.

 Q20. The schedule appears to be non-stop for 2 years.  Are there “breaks” built into the schedule? 

A20.  The schedule for this program is rigorous.  Students will receive a one week break between terms and approximately three weeks off during the late-December/January holiday time frame.  However, there will be no summer break.  For students to complete this program within two years, students must continue to take courses every term.  Because of the small size of the college and the limited number of faculty, each year courses will be offered only once a year.  There are provisions built in for emergency situations for students to request a term off, or a year off if necessary.  However, these are for documented emergency situations, which must be verified and approved by the student’s chain of command prior to submitting the request for approval to the Chief, Student Services.

 Q21. When will classes begin?   

A21.  Classes will begin with an orientation for academic readiness and to prepare students to complete program major courses and general education and elective courses. Orientation is offered each term. The program major classes are conducted through five 9-week terms for each year of the 2-year program.

Program major courses taught by CADP will begin in March. A program schedule is provided to all students upon entering the program.

 Q22. How many class seats are available?    

A22.  The class capacity cap by class section is 30 students. Registrar and/or Student Support must receive permission to add students over the predetermined class size upon Academic Dean’s approval.

 Q23. What happens if I fail a class? 

A23. Students who fail to obtain a grade of at least a “C” on a course will be required to retake that course.   

 Q24. How does the CLEP/DSST testing process work? 

A24.  The Air Force has arranged, through this program, to pay for one CLEP/DSST attempt for each general education and elective course required for completion of the program.   The Air Force will cover exam fees for CLEP/DSST exams.  Students testing at “fully-funded” National Test Centers will have registration fees waived.  Students testing at all other sites will be responsible for registration fees.  Students may also test at home or a location of their choosing. If selected, the student’s academic advisor will walk the student through this process.  

 Q25. What happens if I fail a CLEP/DSST? 

A25.  Students who fail an initial attempt at a CLEP/DSST to fulfill their general education and/or elective requirements may have to fulfill this requirement at their own cost.  Students will be required to pay for additional attempts at a failed CLEP/DSST exam which was initially covered by AF civTA.  There are a variety of free resources available to help students prepare for CLEP/DSST courses, which can be found online, at libraries and base Education Centers.  Students are strongly encouraged to take advantage of these resources to prepare themselves appropriately prior to attempting a CLEP/DSST exam.  Academic advisors will discuss these resources with students during initial student orientation.

 Q26. What if I would rather take a classroom course instead of a CLEP/DSST test? 

A26.   Air University does not currently offer any classes to fulfill general education requirements.  For general education requirements, students may take a course at a local or online accredited college and transfer the credit into the program.  However, students must confer first with their academic advisor prior to taking a class in this manner to ensure the credit hours will transfer.  The student may apply for Air Force civilian tuition assistance to supplement the cost of any courses completed in this manner.  Even when tuition assistance is approved, students are still responsible for paying fees and book costs for each course (if any).   

 Q27. What if I want or need to withdraw from the program?   

A27.  Students should assess their ability to commit the time required for this important program before applying.  Students are not expected to withdraw.  It is the school’s goal that all our students succeed, and academic advisors will work closely with students to ensure they have the support they need.  However, we realize that emergency situations do happen, and there are provisions for temporary or permanent withdrawals.  Students will need to coordinate the withdrawal request with their academic advisor and their chain of command prior to requesting approval from AFPC to withdraw.