Explore Your Pathway

Bellingham Technical College provides student-centered, high-quality professional technical education for today’s needs and tomorrow’s opportunities. With over 39 degrees and 55 certificates, there are a variety of careers and programs to choose from.

We understand that attending college is a big decision and we're excited to work alongside you to help you achieve your goals. This Explore Your Pathway page is to assist you with learning the basics about college, how to explore BTC’s programs, and providing you the information you need to begin at BTC. Be sure to check the bolded terms below in the glossary of terms.  

Visit the Meet with Student Services section below for modified availability of departments.

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Steps for Success

Explore your Program

Bellingham Technical College is an open-admission institution, so every student is generally accepted to BTC when the application is completed! When determining the degree or certificate you would like to study at BTC, you will want to explore the program page and the program’s entry tab for further information.

Each BTC program will have minimum entry requirements students must complete to be eligible to register for program classes. Some programs only require minimum assessment or test scores to be met, while some programs have required prerequisite classes. If a program has prerequisite classes, you will be considered an Early Program student when you are completing the prerequisite classes. To determine if you met the program’s entry requirements, you will need to complete step two in the admissions process, assessing your starting point.

When exploring the program page, you will want to find when the program classes start. Some programs are set up in a cohort model, which means they start first quarter classes during specific quarters throughout the school year. For example, our Process Technology program admits new students into the program each Fall and Winter quarter, the Pastry Arts program only admits new students once a year in Fall quarter, and our Engineering AAS programs admit new students quarterly. Be sure to plan ahead and view the academic calendar below to view dates for new student registration and quarter starts.

A program may require general education classes. These classes can be taken any quarter (Fall, Winter, Spring, Summer) and can be taken before your program classes start or incorporated into your program class schedule.

Career Exploration

Need help choosing a program at BTC? Take the Career Coach Assessment! Choosing a BTC degree or certificate program that directly matches to your personality and interests is more likely to lead to career satisfaction and success after graduation.

If you still need assistance after you take the Career Coach Assessment, you can set up a Career Exploration appointment with a College Navigator. Navigators can help you clarify goals, interests, and values to plan for a rewarding career. They work with students in all stages of the career planning process, from developing career goals to gaining the interviewing skills needed to land your dream job. Call Admissions & Advising at 360.752.8345 to schedule a Career Exploration appointment.

Admissions Steps

Now that you decided on your program, you are ready to start the Admissions Steps. Follow the four simple admissions steps to begin your next chapter at BTC.

It is recommended that you complete admissions steps one, two, and three before new student registration opens for your intended quarter start date. Find the new student registration and quarter start dates on the academic calendar below. You can still complete the admission steps and register for classes after new student registration opens, but many classes are filled on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Paying for College

While you are beginning the admission steps, it is recommended to be simultaneously completing the funding steps too. View more information about tuition & fees, program cost estimates, funding resources and more on the Paying for College page.

As a technical college, we focus on hands-on learning. In addition to tuition and fees, programs may have additional costs such as supplies, tools, clothing, textbooks, etc., that are required. View the estimated materials and textbook costs on your program page.

Glossary of Terms

  • Academic Advisor and Navigator

    College Navigators are staff members assigned to students for your program or degree. They help students choose degrees and certificates, design a course of study called an academic plan and help ensure students fulfill graduation requirements.

  • Applying vs. Registering

    Applying to BTC is the first step in the admissions process, completing the application to BTC. The application is online, free and takes about 15 minutes. As an open-door institution, every student is generally accepted to BTC when they submit the application!

    Registering refers to reserving your place in your classes. Students can register for classes in step three of the admissions process. Classes may have entry requirements or prerequisites, so be sure to check your program page’s entry tab for further information

  • Cohort

    A group of students working through a curriculum together towards the same degree. Many programs at BTC are set up in a cohort model and the program’s first quarter classes start during specific quarter(s) throughout the school year.

  • Counselor

    BTC Counseling provides free, confidential personal counseling services to enrolled students. In addition to this short-term, solution-focused service, the BTC Counselor can also provide information on campus and community resources that may be of help to you.

  • Credits

    A measure of a class’s time based on how many hours students spend in class. One credit is approximately one hour of class time per week. Classes typically range from 1-5 credits.

  • Degrees & Certificates

    The Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree are two-year degrees for students who want to start a career immediately after graduation.

    Associate of Applied Science-Transfer (AAS-T) degrees are two-year, job-training degrees. They prepare students for immediate employment. These degrees transfer only to: Applied baccalaureate degrees at community or technical colleges, or universities that have an agreement with the community or technical college issuing the degree. Check with your College Navigator to make sure this is the right path for your transfer goals, and explore more information on the Transfer Options page.

    Certificates provide you with a set of skills to find a job or stay current in your profession. Certificates typically last 1 to 3 quarters. Many certificates are designed to build on top of each other and eventually lead to a longer-term certificate or degree. These are called "stackable" certificates.

  • Early Program vs. Core Program

    Early program students are students completing the prerequisite classes that are required for the program classes. Core program students are students completing the program classes.

  • Face-to-Face vs. Online vs. Hybrid Classes

    Face-to-face classes:
    Most people are familiar with traditional face-to-face classes. Students and instructors meet together for a certain number of hours, in a classroom and on a regular weekly schedule.

    Online Classes:
    Online courses are completed fully online. Students can take an online course when and where they choose. Instructors give assignments and due dates throughout the quarter to keep students on track. In some cases, students are required to interact with each other and the teacher online for a certain number of times during the week or quarter. Some online courses are entirely self-paced.

    Hybrid Classes:
    Hybrid courses combine face-to-face classroom time with online instruction. Students in a hybrid course come to campus at scheduled times and meet face-to-face with instructors and fellow students. Many class activities are conducted online, including course work assignments, discussions and group projects.

  • Full-time vs. Part-time

    Full-time and part-time refers to how many credits a student takes per quarter. Full-time consists of taking 12 credits or more per quarter, typically ranging from 3-5 classes. Part-time is 11 credits or less per quarter, typically ranging between 1-2 classes. Some degrees or certificates only offer a full-time option, while others may offer a full or part-time schedule.

  • General Education (GE) Classes

    Your program courses focus on teaching you the necessary skills to fulfill the technical requirements of your career choice. General education classes are designed to improve your math, communication and human-relation skills for your certificate or degree. General education classes can be taken before your core program classes or incorporated within your core program classes. In admissions step three, you will meet with an advisor/navigator to create an academic plan to determine when you will take each class. View more information about general education classes.

  • Open Admission

    Open admission (or open enrollment) refers to generally accepting all applicants who apply BTC! Many programs or degrees at BTC have minimum entry requirements, so be sure to check the program page’s Entry tab for more information. If you don’t have a high school diploma or a GED, you can connect with BTC’s Transitional Studies department to transition to college level coursework.

  • Prerequisite

    A prerequisite means a class or other requirement that a student must have taken prior to enrolling in a specific class or program. A corequisite means a class or other requirement that a student must take at the same time as another class or requirement.

  • ctcLink ID

    This is the 9-digit number that you will receive from BTC in your admissions email after you apply. Your ctcLink ID will be used for all Technical & Community Colleges in Washington State.

  • Quarters vs. Semesters

    The academic year is often divided into terms—most commonly in the form of semesters or quarters. Semesters typically include a fall and spring semester. At BTC, we are on the quarter system. Quarters divide the year into four terms (Fall, Winter, Spring, Summer).

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Career Coach

Career Coach is a free online tool which can help you identify your interests and aptitudes, while helping you discover BTC degree and certificate programs that match your unique skills, interests, and strengths. It also provides extensive information about occupations, wages, and training using Emsi’s comprehensive labor market data.

As a future student, this tool will help you identify a program of interest before you apply to BTC. There are three assessments you can complete: a 6-question assessment, a 30-question assessment, and a 60-question assessment. All three will give you a thorough understanding of your unique interests and the career fields that match. As a current student at BTC, you can use Career Coach to build and share your résumé. You can also apply to open positions in your field of interest, posted by employers on Career Coach’s job board.

Sign up today to create a free Career Coach profile or simply take a Career Coach assessment to discover the career field and BTC program best for you!

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Info Sessions

To learn more about Bellingham Technical College's degree and certificate programs, join us for a FREE Program Info Session. Sign up is required; see links below to register. If you do not see an Info Session for the program you're interested in, please email outreach@btc.edu for more information.

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Campus Tours

Join us for a BTC Campus Tour to see where hands-on learning takes place at BTC! This guided walking tour will include general college services, campus resources, and up to two (2) program labs.

  • Campus tours will have limited space and availability. To mitigate the risk of COVID-19, each tour registrant is permitted to invite ONE (1) guest to accompany them. Social distancing and a mask which fully covers your nose and mouth will be required throughout the tour. To schedule a BTC Campus Tour, please visit Campus Tour Bookings.

  • Please note: Campus tours take place on our main campus; therefore, Composites Engineering Technology and Fisheries & Aquaculture Sciences will not be included. For a tour of these programs and facilities, please contact outreach@btc.edu.

  • For group tours, please contact outreach@btc.edu.

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Group tours and campus visits for up to 10 people people require a reservation. Please contact us at least two weeks in advance in order to ensure appropriate staffing for your group. We may also be able to provide other prospective student related services, upon request.

Contact the Outreach team and we will try to accommodate your schedule!

High School Guidance Counselors

Members of the Outreach staff regularly visit local high schools throughout the school year. We can also arrange special visits. Examples of events that our staff attend include:

  • Classroom presentations
  • College & career fairs
  • Community events
  • Personalized assistance through admissions steps
Contact the Outreach Team

Contact us via email at outreach@btc.edu,by phone at 360.752.8345, or schedule a time to drop by our office in the College Services Building.

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Meet with Student Services

Student Services is available to you Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
See below for department specific information.

Accessibility Resources

Accessibility Resources (AR) is a center for college accommodations, disability and accessibility education, and student development. AR helps students develop self-advocacy, identify barriers to their education, and develop an accommodation plan through an interactive process. Contact AR to discuss your accessibility/accommodation needs. If you are a new student or would like to apply for a new accommodation, please register using the AR Application. Returning AR students should schedule an appointment using myAR. AR staff are available in-person on Thursdays in the College Services Building by appointment only.


Admissions supports students as they apply to the college and navigate the admissions steps, including applying to the college, placement testing, and transcript evaluation. Contact us by emailing admissions@btc.edu, calling 360.752.8345, or dropping by our office in the College Services Building, Monday-Friday, 8-5 pm.

To schedule with the Assessment Center, email assessment@btc.edu or call 360.752.8335.


Advisors can help you explore careers, prepare for an internship, discuss specific program requirements and create a plan of classes to enroll in. Schedule an appointment with Advising by emailing admissions@btc.edu, calling 360.752.8345, or dropping by our office in the College Services Building, Monday - Friday, 8-5 pm.

BTC Counseling

BTC Counseling provides free, confidential personal counseling services to enrolled students. In addition to this short-term, solution-focused service, the BTC Counselors can also provide information on campus and community resources that may be of help to you. For more information or to book an appointment please visit BTC’s Counseling page or email counseling@btc.edu.


Registration staff assist students with class registration and class changes (adds/drops/withdrawals), provide enrollment verifications, process official transcript requests, maintain student records, notify students when they are not meeting satisfactory progress requirements, verify program course requirements at the time of completion, and mail diplomas to graduates. For assistance from Registration staff, please drop by the College Services Building Monday - Friday, or contact us at registration@btc.edu or 360.752.8350.

TRIO Student Support Services 

TRIO Student Support Services at BTC is a free program for eligible students who are motivated to get the most out of their college experience. TRIO offers personalized support aimed to help students navigate college, connect to the campus community, succeed in classes, graduate with a degree or certificate, and start a career or continue to a bachelor’s degree. If you are a new student, you can apply for TRIO on the TRIO Student Support Services page. Returning TRIO students can schedule a coaching appointment on the Schedule Coaching Appointment page. Coaching is currently offered by appointment only on Mondays and Thursdays in the Campus Center Building.

Student Financial Resources

Student Financial Resources (SFR) supports students as they navigate how to pay for college. Our staff can assist with FAFSA/WAFSA questions, applying for financial aid, scholarships, and loans, paying tuition and fees, applying for Work Study, and additional funding opportunities. Additionally, we can help with Basic Food Employment and Training (BFET) Services, questions about veteran’s benefits and support services, funding and services through the WorkFirst Program for students who are low income parents, scholarships for dislocated workers and students with low income through Workforce funding, and the Worker Retraining program for unemployed or displaced workers to update their skills.

If you are experiencing financial difficulties that are impacting your ability to continue your education, consider applying for BTC’s Emergency Funding program for additional financial assistance.

Drop by our office in the College Services Building Monday-Friday 8-5 pm, schedule a Student Financial Resources appointment via phone or Zoom to discuss a specific topic. Or reach us at 360.752.8351 or FinAid@btc.edu.

For additional contact information please visit the Department Directory page. You can also access more information on our Student Resources page.

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