State Expands Four-Year Community College Baccalaureate Programs


New state law expands a pilot program that allows community colleges to offer bachelor’s degrees and allows colleges to increase the number of programs they offer from 15 to 30 per academic year.

Assembly Bill 927, enacted by Governor Gavin Newsom on October 6, makes permanent the baccalaureate programs currently being piloted at 15 community colleges and allows other community colleges to establish similar programs . Programs must meet different manpower needs than programs already available in state university systems.

“Almost two dozen former mortuary science students, with previous science certificates or associates, have returned to Cypress College with the goal of earning our bachelor’s degree.” And after graduating, “all the students received either promotions, or salary increases, or both. Several have decided to pursue graduate studies, and at least two are interested in becoming faculty members themselves. “

–Jolena Grande, professor of mortuary science at Cypress College

Jim DeKloe, Professor of Biological Sciences and Biotechnology at Solano Community College, is proud of the undergraduate programs at Solano and MiraCosta College, which have coordinated to offer degrees in biofabrication. “We were able to put together a real educational path – articulated high school programs ranging from the Laboratory Assistant Certificate to the Industrial Biotechnology Certificate, which lead to an Associate degree, which fits seamlessly with our baccalaureate, then to guaranteed admission to graduate studies. Said the member of the Solano College Teachers Association.

The California Community Colleges (CCC) Licensing Pilot Program began in 2014 and was created to make it easier and cheaper for students to graduate and to create more employment opportunities for students. The program meets the needs of California businesses in terms of skilled workers. At the time, the Legislature approved 11 programs ranging from biofabrication to dental hygiene at 15 colleges.

A report from the Office of Legislative Analysts from January 2020, while noting the academic rigor of the program, finds that its impact on employment is mixed.

“We found little evidence that graduates of these pilots were better prepared for these positions than those with other bachelor’s degrees or that graduates of the pilot programs helped employers fill hard-to-fill positions,” says the Minister. report. “The most common benefit of the pilot cited by students was the relatively low cost of attending community college baccalaureate programs. “

Indeed, tuition for a bachelor’s degree program at a community college is capped at $ 10,560 for all four years – an extraordinary bargain.

The new legislation comes during the COVID-19 pandemic, when California and the rest of the country have many job openings.

Community college administrators will now submit proposals for new four-year degrees to the CCC chancellor’s office. Proposals will be reviewed by the Chancellor’s Office, CSU and UC system administrators, and the Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities. The number of four-year programs offered by a community college district should not exceed one-quarter of the number of associate’s degree programs in the district.

Grande says that while the advantages of Cypress College’s four-year mortuary science program outweigh the disadvantages, the latter were remarkable. Among them: The level of interest exceeded the available faculty and staff, which led to limiting the number of students so that accreditation mandates and degree “results” were not compromised. Additionally, she and her colleagues found that “community college students increasingly need support as they continue on their way to a bachelor’s degree. The number of hours needed for counseling, class reflection and the transition from college to work and back to class has been underestimated.

Photo above: Rio Hondo College celebrates the 2019 class; First historical bachelor’s degrees in science


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