California’s 112 community colleges may seek permission to offer bachelor’s degrees, reports Inside Higher Ed. A committee is studying the question.
A bachelor’s degree option could “increase college participation rates for local residents who are unable to relocate because of family or work commitments,” said Community Colleges Chancellor Brice Harris’s office, in a statement.
Twenty-one states now let two-year colleges offer some four-year degrees, especially in technical and occupational fields. Florida is a leader in expanding four-year options at community colleges, which are now called “state colleges.”
However, there’s plenty of pushback, Inside Higher Ed notes. Public universities don’t like to compete for students and state funding. In Michigan, public universities are fighting a new law that lets community colleges offer bachelor’s degrees in technical fields.
While some at community colleges worry about “mission creep,” others say a four-year option makes sense.
Community colleges cannot meet the demand for skilled workers in technical fields, said Bill Scroggins, president and CEO of Mt. San Antonio College.
Those jobs are also changing, said Scroggins, who is a committee member. Many employers are have added new hiring requirements for applicants to hold bachelor’s degrees. Nursing is a key example. As a result, two-year degrees no longer cut it in certain fields.
The 16-member committee is considering “applied” baccalaureates in nursing and technical fields.