Demand for an educated workforce in California is projected to outstrip supply. If a bill introduced in the California Legislature is passed, California’s community colleges would be positioned to help meet that demand by awarding applied bachelor’s degrees in specific technical disciplines where there is demand that is not met by California’s four-year public institutions.
The bill authored by Senator Marty Block, Dist. 39, would authorize the establishment of one baccalaureate degree pilot program per community college campus per district that would expire 8 years after establishment of the program.
Twenty-one states already let community colleges offer bachelor’s degrees, but California’s Master Plan for Higher Education limits the level of degrees awarded by each system – associate degrees for community colleges, masters for the California State University and doctoral for the University of California.
California Community College Chancellor Brice Harris commissioned a task force to address meeting the state’s workforce demands. The recently released study notes that individuals seeking reasonably lucrative careers in allied health, public service, law enforcement, and the technologies must expect a commitment of no less than the baccalaureate merely to gain access to these fields.
In rural areas of the state access to four-year institutions is particularly challenging. Awarding bachelor’s degrees at community colleges would provide improved access at a lower cost.
Tuition would be lower than CSU’s annual tuition of $5,970 but higher than $46 a credit that is charged by the community colleges.
“The Yuba Community College District wholeheartedly supports this initiative; I see it as an imperative for serving the education needs in rural regions,” said Chancellor Douglas Houston.
California’s community colleges will continue to address critical workforce needs in a strategic and targeted manner, and associate degrees will remain the primary mission for California’s community colleges.