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Bachelor’s Degrees Coming To MiraCosta, Mesa Colleges

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Officials at two San Diego community colleges are celebrating after being selected in a statewide pilot program to offer four-year degrees.

MiraCosta College and San Diego Mesa College will be among 15 community colleges in California to offer a bachelor's degree in a selected course of study. Mesa plans to offer a degree in heath information management in fall 2016, while MiraCosta in Oceanside plans to offer a degree in bio-manufacturing in 2017.

Pamela Luster, Mesa College's president, said the program was driven by the need of the workforce.

"We need to fill a workforce gap," Luster told KPBS Midday Edition on Thursday. "We know as community colleges, we can provide that."

Luster said Loma Linda University, a private college in San Bernardino County, is the only other campus in California that offers a degree in health information management. Luster estimates that tuition at Loma Linda is $60,000 for four years, while Mesa will offer its degree for a little more than $10,000.

Mary Bernard, vice president of instructional services at MiraCosta, said the faculty at its campus selected bio-manufacturing as its course of study.

"It was a faculty-led process," Bernard said. "It became clear that bio-manufacturing was really supported and the faculty was interested in developing that program."

The chosen community colleges were required to propose programs that don't duplicate existing programs offered in nearby University of California or California State University campuses. Up until now, they were the only public schools in the state offering four-year-degrees.

Community colleges received a further boost of support this month after President Barack Obama said he wanted to make higher education free.

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