These are terms primarily used in the United States

Trade, Technical and Vocational schools are classified in North America as junior colleges, under trilateral agreement between Canada, Mexico and the United States.*

Through the 1970s the term junior college ("JUCO" for short), encompassed all schools that offered a two-year degree (Associate degree) AND all schools beyond high school (post secondary) that did not offer a four-year degree (Bachelor's). This encompassed the types of schools that we know today such as trade schools, as well as many types that are no longer in common usage. These include:

  • Junior College
  • Community College
  • Normal School
  • Teacher's College
  • Seminary (in specific types of education and not necessarily religious training as it is almost exclusively understood today)
  • Technical School / Technical College / Technical Institute / Instituted of Technology
  • Vocational School / Vocational College
  • Training Center (degree granting)
  • City College (offering two-year degree)
  • Business College (offering two-year degree)
  • Professional College (offering two-year degree)

The term "JUCO" is a term created to refer to these schools: JUnior COlleges and in academic and collegiate sports circles it encompasses all of these types of institutions.

Generally trade, technical and vocational schools will offer training certification or credits towards a particular certification. In many cases these schools will also offer two-year programs and Associates Degrees. These schools are most often characterized by very liberal to completely open admissions but unlike junior colleges and community colleges, the coursework is normally very specific to one or more industries.

The variety of options available at trade and vocational schools most often include:

  • Vocational training
  • Occupational training and professional continuing education
  • Certificate coursework
  • Remedial coursework.
  • Non-credit coursework and training
  • Certificate courses

In some cases it will also include:

  • Associate Degree (normally a two-year degree)
  • Transfer credits (some or all credits are transferable to a four-year college or university and applicable towards a four-year undergraduate degree such as a B.A. or B.S.
  • Transferable degrees (when transferring to four-year colleges or universities some will accept part or all of the Associate Degree as the equivalent or partial equivalent of two of the required four years of coursework required for that degree.)

*There are exceptions to this classification and though not specifically regulated, a cutting off point would typically be distinguished by a school that offers a two-year Associate degree (junior college) versus not offering such a degree. These non degree granting schools would also normally be highly specialized with little variety in the types of course offerings and a separate classification of "Other Technical and Trade Schools" would often include such institutions as: bar tending schools, cooking schools, police training schools and real estate schools.  


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