California community colleges to offer bachelor's degrees

David Louie Image
ByDavid Louie KGO logo
Monday, September 29, 2014
Calif. community colleges to offer bachelor's degrees
Gov. Jerry Brown has given the green light for a pilot program in which a small number of community colleges will offer bachelor's degrees.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- With the stroke of a pen, Governor Jerry Brown has made it easier for millions of Californians to get bachelor's degrees; degrees that could open the door to good jobs.

And it can be done through the community college system.

Many employers are requiring bachelor's degrees for a wide range of jobs. So this pilot program is an effort to address that and also give a tuition break to students.

It's a dream come true for community colleges that believe having a bachelor's degree program will improve the prospects for students and improve the state's competitiveness.

"California is now ranked 31st in the nation when it comes to adults who have a baccalaureate or an associate degree, so we must do better. This is the absolute right step and the right direction," said San Jose-Evergreen Community College District Chancellor Rita Cepeda.

College districts will be apply for 15 pilot programs that train students for high-demand jobs and that don't duplicate existing programs at CSU or UC. The targeted areas include dental hygiene, health technology, and industrial technology. The plan specifies semester units are capped at $84 above what district charge now for associate degree programs. So, depending on the district, getting a bachelor's degree could run just over $10,000.

And with many community college students working part-time, the course offerings will be flexible.

"Some of the courses can be online, some of them can be blended partially in-person, partially online, and some would be in person but also be available evenings, weekends, those kinds of things to accommodate the working adults," said Foothill-De Anza District Chancellor Linda Thor.

The pilot program is scheduled to begin in Jan. 2017 and end in 2023, unless it's extended.

Laura Ortiz, a second-year student enrolled at Foothill College's dental hygiene program, sees the benefit.

"Obviously when you apply for a job, they're going to take the person that has the bachelor's," she said. "So that's an awesome opportunity."

"If they were going into certain companies or certain dental practices, they would need the bachelor's degree, so this will be a great benefit," said Foothill College Dental Hygiene Director Phyllis Spragge.