2019 baccalaureate graduates

2019 graduates from the baccalaureate program at Mesa College.

Trustees urging support for bill expanding bachelor’s degree program

April 10, 2020 | San Diego Community College District

The San Diego Community College District’s (SDCCD) Board of Trustees has adopted a resolution supporting legislation that would expand and make permanent a pilot program allowing 15 California community colleges to offer a bachelor’s degree in areas of unmet workforce needs.

The resolution, adopted April 9 on a unanimous vote, also urges community and business organizations to support Senate Bill 874, citing the critical nature of workforce education and the growing number of workforce fields and employers requiring a bachelor’s degree in their job qualifications. 

“The community college baccalaureate option is even more important now than in the past, given the fact that so many people are unemployed and could benefit from retraining for available, good-paying jobs,” said SDCCD Chancellor Constance M. Carroll. “These programs are directly aimed at workforce needs and California would be smart to authorize their expansion. 

The legislation authored by state Senator Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo) would eliminate the 2026 sunset date on existing baccalaureate pilot programs and allow for an expansion of such programs throughout the state as long as colleges can provide evidence that a new program would meet workforce needs. Colleges would have to consult with regional employers and workforce development boards and document that employers are willing to pay baccalaureate degree holders more than those with a related associate degree or no degree. In addition, the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office would be required to consult with and seek feedback from the California State University and the University of California systems on proposed bachelor degree programs.

The state’s community college baccalaureate program has been a success since Governor Jerry Brown in 2014 signed Senate Bill 850, enabling 15 California community colleges to offer a bachelor’s degree. Hill introduced successful 2018 legislation extending the program’s sunset date from 2023 to July of 2026.

The SDCCD’s San Diego Mesa College, which has a burgeoning baccalaureate program in Health Information Management, is among the colleges taking part in the pilot program. 

A recent California Legislative Analyst’s Office report validated the academic quality and rigor of the community college programs, noting that all have been accredited and all are designed to teach relevant concepts and skills. The report further found that more than half of students surveyed would not have pursued a bachelor’s degree if their community college program had not been offered. At Mesa College, 95% of students in the school’s Health Information Technology associate degree program are leaning toward pursuing a bachelor’s degree through the college’s Health Information Management baccalaureate program so they can enter a profession with salaries ranging from nearly $83,000 to more than $144,000 annually.

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