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MJC to offer Bachelor of Science degree program in 2017
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Modesto Junior College can finally breathe easier as it has been selected as one of the 15 California Community Colleges to pilot four-year bachelor degrees as early as 2017.

The community college’s baccalaureate degree pilot program will be offered in respiratory care—a vocational field not currently not made available by either the California State University or the University of California.

“I am thrilled that Modesto Junior College has been selected as one of the 15 California Community Colleges to offer a pilot baccalaureate degree program,” said MJC President Jill Stearns. “This advanced level of care training for respiratory care professionals will address the unique needs of the Central Valley for practitioners skilled in treating the incidence of asthma and related respiratory disease. MJC is honored to be among the colleges selected for the pilot and we look forward to serving our community with this new degree.”

MJC’s respiratory care program as well as the 14 other baccalaureate degree pilot programs now set to be offered throughout the state are made possible under legislation signed by Gov. Jerry Brown in September.

Advocates of the bill hope that these programs will establish rigorous undergrad programs which will in turn provide higher-level training sought by the industry.

“Employers in California seek candidates with advanced credentials and many struggle to fill positions in some of the fields that will be covered under the new program,” said CCC Chancellor Brice W. Harris in September. “This law will help us meet California’s workforce needs, does not duplicate CSU or UC degree programs, and gives more Californians access to affordable higher education that can enable them to obtain well-paying jobs.”

MJC’s baccalaureate program will be broken up into two portions, one of which will encompass MJC’s current associate degree in respiratory care. The other section will revolve around curriculum in research, education, management, and supervision.

For this program, community colleges will charge an additional $84 more per unit for upper-division baccalaureate coursework than they currently charge for lower-division courses — a cost which is less than the average four-year school.

MJC’s respiratory care pilot program is set to commence no later than the 2017-2018 academic year, with participating students expected to complete their degree by the end of the 2022-2023 academic year.

This pilot program comes at a good time, as the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 28 percent increase in respiratory care practitioners within the next six years. Other factors contribute to the growing need for this type of program, including a high vacancy rate of respiratory care practitioners and a number of existing practitioners nearing retirement age.

“The opportunity to provide a baccalaureate degree program in respiratory care is an incredible fit given the air quality issues that have become a trademark of the Central Valley,” added Stearns in December. “Further, the incidence of asthma and related respiratory disease associated with poor air quality heightens the need for an advanced level of care that can be provided by practitioners who hold a Bachelor of Science degree in respiratory care within the region served by Modesto Junior College.”