CA Community Colleges Expand Bachelor’s Degree Programs
Thursday, July 27, 2023
California is rapidly expanding a program which allows students to pursue certain bachelor's degrees at their local community college.
Right now, 27 schools offer or will soon offer a baccalaureate degree in career-oriented fields in high demand in the Golden State. A bill passed two years ago allows the state to approve up to 30 new degree programs per year.
Constance Carroll, president and CEO of the California Community College Baccalaureate Association, explained part of the rationale for offering more degrees in more locations.
"Most of the students who attend community colleges are what we call place-bound," Carroll pointed out. "They oftentimes head families they're working. They cannot move from their local communities in search of studies elsewhere."
The programs are very cost-effective. Four years of tuition for the Baccalaureate study cost about $10,500, and many students save money by living at home. You can find a list of schools and programs on the California Community Colleges website.
Hayden Lampe earned an associate's degree from Feather River College in rural Quincy, and plans to return to get her bachelor's degree in ecosystem restoration and applied fire management.
"The approval of this program allows me to stay in this community that I love," Lampe emphasized. "Not to mention the degree itself is going to be so much more affordable than one from a traditional university. So if it wasn't for the availability of this degree, I likely would not have pursued higher education any further."
Aisha Lowe, executive vice chancellor of the California Community Colleges, said accessibility is key.
"Our students are predominantly low-income students, students of color, first-generation students," Lowe outlined. "Having those opportunities for an affordable pathway and a local pathway to a baccalaureate degree that leads directly into a workforce outcome is so essential."
Current state law prohibits community college baccalaureate degrees from competing with degree programs offered at the University of California or Cal State schools. However, advocates would like to see exceptions made for fields facing a big labor shortage, like nursing or teaching.
Support for this reporting was provided by Lumina Foundation.
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