Community’s Bachelor Some community colleges may soon offer four-year degrees.

Dylan Pheifer, Staff Reporter

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Some community colleges in California may start to award bachelor’s degrees thanks to legislation signed by Gov. Jerry Brown late last month.

Up to 15 community colleges districts will be able to offer the BA in fields of study not offered by Cal State University or the University of California. To qualify for this pilot program, these schools need to establish their programs by the 2017-2018 school year.

These college districts, which will be chosen by the state’s Chancellor’s Office, have not yet been named, so it’s possible that Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District could be one of them.

Brice W. Harris, the chancellor of California Community Colleges, was among those who endorsed the program: “Thanks to the governor, legislature and college educators who supported this bill, the country’s largest system of higher education joins the ranks of community colleges in other states that offer four-year degrees.”

The new program will “not duplicate the CSU and UC programs,” Brice added. “More Californians will have affordable higher education available, and San Diegans will now be able to obtain well-paying jobs” without the burden of a high tuition cost.

The legislation—authored by Sen. Marty Block (D-San Diego), a former president of the San Diego Community College District Board of Trustees—has been embraced as something to benefit the whole community, from students to employers.

The four-year program could be offered for occupations in which an Associate of Arts used to be acceptable for employment, but now more employers are asking for candidates with bachelor’s degrees to be competitive. Fields relevant to the new legislation are dental hygiene, industrial technology, allied health technology, emergency medical technicians and data management for healthcare.

The pilot program will end in the 2022-23 academic year, unless it is extended by the Legislature. Community colleges will charge an extra $84 per unit for upper-division courses then what is currently charged for lower-division courses. The Legislative Analysts Office will conduct an interim evaluation of the bachelor’s degree program in 2018 as well.

In order to meet workforce needs, the educational route for several professions has changed. CSU now awards doctoral degrees in education, nursing and physical therapy. More than 50 community colleges operate nearly 500 baccalaureate programs in 21 states. Brown also signed AB 2558, which is legislation that aims to increase professional development activities for all community college employees, earlier in September.