California Senate approves four-year degrees at community colleges

With universities less accessible to many students, the state Senate on Thursday gave final legislative approval to a measure that would allow California community colleges to offer four-year degrees in up to 15 campuses.

Sen. Marty Block (D-San Diego) said his measure, which now goes to Gov. Jerry Brown for consideration, is needed to fill a work force skills gap in some parts of the state.

"By 2025 our state will need 1 million more adults with four-year degrees," Block said. "We need to use all of California's resources – including our community colleges – to close that gap."

Some 20 other states allow community colleges to offer baccalaureate degrees, he noted. Lawmakers said many students cannot afford or get into state universities. "This is a viable way to help these young people," said Sen. Mark Wyland (R-Escondido).

SB 850 would allow 15 community college districts to offer one baccalaureate degree program each beginning Jan. 1 and ending in 2023.