Expansion of bachelor’s degree programs at community colleges

By AACC 21st Century Center Staff

A look at the states and institutions adding or expanding bachelor’s degree programs at community colleges.

More community colleges are adding – or seeking to add – bachelor’s degree programs to their offerings. While community colleges in Florida and Washington have been approved to offer bachelor’s degree programs for several years, others are new to it.

Last week, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey signed legislation this week that permits the state’s colleges to have baccalaureate programs. Arizona is the 24th state to allow this.

This news was celebrated by the state’s community college leaders. Steven Gonzales, interim chancellor for the Maricopa Community College District, called it a “historic moment for higher education in Arizona.”

He added, in a statement, that in the coming days, the district’s colleges and faculty will come together to determine which programs will be advanced for consideration as a four-year baccalaureate program.

“Our motivation to offer baccalaureate degrees is to better support the needs of the skilled workforce in the highest demand areas of our state in a way that is equitable, accessible and affordable for students,” Gonzales said.

Success and expansion in Ohio

Three Ohio community colleges were approved to offer baccalaureate degrees in 2018 and are seeing success and looking to expand.

Clark State College, which offers two applied baccalaureate degree programs, recently received official approval from the Ohio Department of Higher Education (ODHE) to offer a third. The four-year degree in addiction and integrated treatment studies (AITS) will move forward for final approval by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

“Clark State has a strong track record of responding to industry needs, and no need is more critical now than training skilled individuals in the field of Addiction and Integrated Treatment Studies,” Clark State President Jo Alice Blondin said in a release. “The need for skilled addiction professionals has only become more acute during the pandemic, and Clark State is here to provide the training and education necessary to assist in this critical healthcare need.”

Clark State also offers applied baccalaureate degrees in manufacturing technology management and web design and development.

Elsewhere in the state, Cincinnati State Community & Technical College is graduating 21 bachelor’s degree students this spring. Every graduate already has a job lined up. And four Sinclair Community College students last week were the first to be awarded bachelor’s degrees by the college. In 2019, Sinclair began offering Bachelor of Applied Science degrees in unmanned aerial systems (UAS) and aviation technology/professional pilot.

Going big in Texas

Gov. Greg Abbott signed a bill in 2017 to allow the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to authorize certain public community colleges to offer up to three baccalaureate degree programs. Degrees could be offered in the fields of applied science, applied technology and nursing.

The Lone Star College System (LSC) offers three bachelor’s degrees: Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN); Bachelor of Applied Technology in Cybersecurity; and Bachelor of Applied Science in Energy, Manufacturing and Trades Management.

The system is looking to expand its current offerings to meet demand. The BSN program at LSC-Montgomery, for example, will expand by one cohort in fall 2022, bringing it to a total of two cohorts with 30 students each.

But LSC also hopes to add two new bachelor’s degree programs in health care information technology and emergency management.

Does your college offer baccalaureate degree programs? Sound off on LinkedIn.

AACC 21st Century Center Staff

is a contributor to the 21st-Century Center.