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Lawmakers Vote To Extend Experimental Baccalaureate Programs At Mesa, MiraCosta Colleges

Elizabeth Peacy works on her final presentation for a bachelor's degree progr...

Photo by Megan Burks

Above: Elizabeth Peacy works on her final presentation for a bachelor's degree program in health information management at San Diego Mesa College, May 16, 2018.

Under a bill awaiting the governor’s signature, hundreds more students would be able to earn a bachelor’s degree through their community college.

Senate Bill 1406, which passed unanimously in both houses of the state legislature, would extend a pilot program that cleared the way for 15 community colleges across California, two in San Diego County, to open baccalaureate programs, beginning in 2015.

Community colleges traditionally offer two-year associate’s degrees.

“The purpose of these community college baccalaureate programs is to provide applied, we call it, workforce training in fields where there are lots of jobs, however, these jobs now require a bachelor’s degree instead of an associate-level degree,” said San Diego Community College District Chancellor Constance Carroll.

San Diego Mesa College awarded its first bachelor’s degrees in health information management this spring. MiraCosta College in Oceanside will award its first biomanufacturing bachelor’s degrees next year.

The programs are not offered at any of the state’s public, four-year institutions.

The extension through 2026 would allow participating community colleges to graduate at least two more classes of students.

RELATED: How San Diego State Plans To Save Students $2M In Textbooks This Semester

Gov. Jerry Brown is expected to sign the bill into law. While Brown and state lawmakers have pulled the reins on spending by the state’s public universities, they have bolstered community colleges in their bid to expand access to higher education. Among other supports, Brown and the legislature will fund the first year of community college for all California students beginning this fall — a move that allowed local campuses to offer the second year free, too.

Some California community colleges have been offering four-year degrees under a state pilot program. A bill on the governor’s desk would extend the program through 2026.

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