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Frequently Asked Questions Training

What is the difference between an academic degree program and a tuition assistance program?

An academic degree program is part of a planned, systemic and coordinated agency employee development program linked to accomplishing the strategic goals of the agency, meeting an identified agency training need or accomplishing goals in the strategic plan. Employees must undergo a competitive process, consistent with 5 CFR 410.308(c), before selection to an academic degree program.  Agencies should only establish academic degree programs under the conditions of 5 U.S.C 4107. Agencies may NOT select employees for academic degrees for the sole purpose of providing the degree or to qualify for appointment to a position where the academic degree is a basic requirement.  

Tuition assistance programs, including individual courses, are NOT considered part of an agency’s academic degree program. Within a tuition assistance program, agencies pay for individual courses/classes. Employees are not required to undergo a competitive process. Supervisors should adhere to the definition of training (5 U.S.C 4101(4)) when choosing which classes/courses to pay for.

For more information on academic degree programs and tuition assistance, go to pp. 17-21 in the Training Policy Handbook.

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