Community colleges have traditionally been focused on getting in, getting an associate degree in two years or less, and getting into the workforce as quickly as possible. Those who wanted to continue their education had to take on the headache of transferring all of their community college credits to a four-year institution. Today, a number of community colleges are offering bachelor's degrees to student who complete associate degrees and want to take their training and education to the next level - without leaving campus.
What's Different about Community College Bachelor's Degrees?
While many students are clamoring for a spot in a four-year community college program that costs much less than a similar degree from a nearby university, community colleges are stressing the point that they are not trying to be just like the four-year postsecondary institutions. First, most community colleges offering bachelor's degrees are doing so as an extension of their own associate degree programs. Students earn the associate degree first to become eligible to apply for the bachelor's program.
These bachelor's degrees will also differ from traditional university offerings because they will be limited to degree programs that can take students directly into the workforce. In keeping with the long-standing tradition of community colleges to raise up a new generation of work-ready adults, these programs are designed specifically with a profession in mind. Instead of offering liberal arts programs in political science or English, these bachelor's degrees will be in specific fields like nursing, information technology and radiology.
The programs that are currently being offered at community colleges across the country are quickly gaining steam, as students tune into their benefits. First, the cost of a four-year degree from a community college is much less than what they would pay at a state university. Second, students already enrolled in the associate degree program will find it a seamless transition to transfer credits and continue on to earn a four-year degree in the same area of study. Consider these examples of four community colleges that are seeing great success with the introduction of their four-year programs.
In Orlando, Florida, Valencia Community College is now offering bachelor's degrees in a select number of study areas. Students at the college can extend their education after their associate degree and earn either a bachelor of science in radiologic and imaging sciences or a bachelor of science in electrical and computer engineering technology.
According to the Valencia News, students are required to complete an associate degree at the college before they are eligible to apply for the four-year program. The four-year degree programs will cost a bit more than the associate degree, but will still be much less than tuition at the universities around the state.
According to the Tri-City Herald, Columbia Basin College has just received accreditation for their bachelor's degree of applied science in applied management. This program will graduate its first set of students this June. The accreditation makes CBC one of seven community colleges in the state of Washington that offers a four-year degree in addition to its usual associate programs.
Students pursuing the degree at CBC complete courses in marketing, business finance and business ethics. Students must earn their associate degree in applied science before they are eligible to apply for the BAS program.
A recent report at WTOP also outlines a new bachelor's program that will begin at Hood College for students interested in pursuing a nursing career. The Maryland Higher Education Commission granted Hood approval for their Bachelor of Nursing program, which is designed as a continuation of the associate of nursing degree currently offered. Carol Snapp, director of Hood's BSN completion program, told WTOP, "We've received a lot of interest from nurses at FMH [Frederick Memorial Hospital]. Most people work in Frederick County and some commute out of the county for their job, but most would prefer to work on their bachelor's degree in the Frederick area."
In southern Florida, two community colleges are also hopping on the bachelor's degree bandwagon. According to a report at the Miami Herald, both Miami Dade and Broward College will begin offering additional bachelor's degree programs to their students, after seeing success with their initial degree options. Miami Dade will include four-year degrees in electronics engineering, film, television and digital production, physician assistant studies and supervision and management.
Broward will offer information technology and technology management degrees in the fall, with a nursing program soon to follow. The four-year programs will begin on both campuses this fall. The programs at these colleges, like those in other parts of the country, narrowly target high-demand career areas where there is a need for workers. Miami Dade will now be offering a dozen bachelor's degree programs.
Community colleges have consistently answered the call to train the American workforce, and now there are even more opportunities available at these institutions. With the addition of bachelor's degrees to many community college campuses across the country, community college students are able to transform their associate degree completion into a four-year degree with much less headache. If you are interested in pursuing a four-year degree in this fashion, now is the time to find out if community colleges in your area are expanding to offer bachelor's programs.
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