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Community College 4-Year Degree Program Extended

September 27, 2018

By Mario A. Cortez

California students participating in the California Baccalaureate Pilot Program— including local students at Mesa College— will continue to have the opportunity to earn a four-year degree well into 2026 with last week’s signing of Senate Bill 1406 (SB 1406).

Authored by State Senator Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo), SB 1406 will allow for a three-year extension to the California Baccalaureate Pilot Program, which permits two-year colleges to award bachelor’s degrees that address regional workforce needs.

With this extension, students can now begin their path to a four-year degree at a community college as late as the 2022-2023 school year, when the program would have ended had Governor Brown not signed the legislation

“Four-year degrees at community colleges will help create the future workforce in our state,” said Hill in a press release distributed by the San Diego Community College District (SDCCD), to which Mesa College belongs. “These affordable and high-quality degrees available at community colleges are transforming people’s lives, allowing them to get good-paying jobs close to home.”

Baccalaureate programs can only exist at community colleges to address specified, regional shortages in workforce sectors throughout the state and cannot duplicate program offers from other public four-year universities.

Locally the program has seen strong support from SDCCD Chancellor Constance Carroll and former State Senator Marty Block, who also served as president of SDCCD’s Board of Trustees.

“We at the SDCCD and at college districts throughout California are truly grateful for Senator Hill and Governor Brown for this much needed legislation that will extend opportunities for students to earn a bachelor’s degree in critical workforce areas,” said Carroll. “The pilot program embodies the California Community Colleges mission of advancing economic growth by providing excellent, affordable, local bachelor’s programs that lead directly to jobs.”

This spring semester saw the first-ever graduating class to come from the program, with Mesa College grads holding four-year degrees in health information management. Students at Shasta, West Los Angeles, Bakersfield and Santa Monica colleges were also part of this inaugural cohort.

Only 23 states, including California, offer baccalaureate degree programs at the community college level.

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