Community colleges, with the likes of Modesto Junior College and Merced College, could be piloting four-year bachelor degrees in vocational fields that are not currently offered by the California State University or the University of California as early as the 2017 academic year.
With legislation signed on Sunday by Gov. Jerry Brown, 15 California Community Colleges districts will be selected by the CCC Chancellor and CCC Board of Governors to participate in a statewide baccalaureate program. Advocates of the bill hope that the program will establish rigorous undergrad programs in order to 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. “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.”
These degrees will help graduates transition into the workplace, which increasingly demands a higher level of education in applied fields.
“MJC is well poised to apply to serve as a pilot college for the new CCC Bachelor’s Degree program,” wrote President Jill Stearns. “Our existing programs in automotive technology, industrial technology, and allied health technologies are strong options that will be part of the college planning discussions along with emerging technology areas.”
Students enrolled in the program will be given the opportunity to earn bachelor’s degrees in vocational fields, specifically those that are not offered through the University of California of California State University systems. These degrees include, but are not limited to, dental hygiene, industrial technology, allied health technology, emergency medical technicians, and data management for health care.
Districts involved in the statewide program will be given one baccalaureate degree program each. For these programs, community colleges would only charge an additional $84 more per unit for upper-division baccalaureate coursework than they currently charge for lower-division courses.
The 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.
“It would be a wonderful benefit for many MJC students to be able to achieve a Bachelor’s Degree on our campus. The cost of obtaining a four-year degree at a community college will make it more affordable and attainable for many students,” wrote Stearns.