Programs of Study

The Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V) calls upon states to create sequences of academic and Career Technical Education (CTE) coursework to help students attain a postsecondary degree or industry-recognized certificate or credential, otherwise known as programs of study (POS).

According to the definition put forward in Perkins V, a program of study must, at minimum, be a coordinated, non-duplicative sequence of academic and technical content at the secondary and postsecondary level that:

  • Incorporates challenging, state-identified academic standards;

  • Addresses academic and technical knowledge, as well as employability skills;

  • Is aligned to the needs of industries in the state, region, Tribal community or local area;

  • Progresses in content specificity;

  • Has multiple entry and exit points that allow for credentialing; and

  • Culminates in the attainment of a recognized postsecondary credential.

Perkins V used some of the existing language on programs of study from the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006 (Perkins IV), but formalized the definition and added requirements about increasing specificity over the course of the program of study and ensuring there are multiple entry and exit points.

To help states and local recipients meet the program of study requirements in Perkins IV, the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education, in collaboration with organizations, states and major national associations, including Advance CTE, formulated a rigorous programs of study design framework. This framework identifies 10 components that, taken together, support the systemic development and implementation of effective programs of study. Although all 10 components are important, they are neither independent nor of equal priority. State and local program developers must identify the most pressing components for state or local adoption, taking into consideration their relative need within their educational context.

The Rigorous Program of Study Design Framework Components:

  1. Legislation and Policies

  2. Partnerships

  3. Professional Development

  4. Accountability and Evaluation Systems

  5. College and Career Readiness Standards

  6. Course Sequences

  7. Credit Transfer Agreements

  8. Guidance Counseling and Academic Advisement

  9. Teaching and Learning Strategies

  10. Technical Skills Assessments


NOTE: The Common Career Technical Core (CCTC) are a set of common, program-level standards for CTE designed to support POS development.