Fifteen California community colleges should be able to offer four-year degrees starting as soon as next year, state officials announced Tuesday.
Officials with California's community college system gave initial approval to the campuses after 36 schools and districts said they would apply for a chance to offer baccalaureate degrees. Nearly 20 other states allow community colleges to offer four-year degrees.
California community college officials will give final approval to the two-year schools in the spring. The campuses cannot teach four-year programs that already are being offered at other nearby state schools, and they also cannot provide four-year nursing degrees.
The new degree programs will be regularly evaluated by state officials and are scheduled to end by July 2023, although lawmakers could renew the program.
Proponents of the degrees say the programs could provide the state with thousands of workers in technical fields at a lower price. A four-year degree at a community college would cost about $10,000 in tuition, roughly half the cost of attending a Cal State campus, according to estimates.
State Sen. Marty Block (D-San Diego) wrote the legislation creating the pilot program. In addition, a coalition of community college administrators and supporters "worked very hard to support the bill," said Constance Carroll, the chancellor of the San Diego Community College District. "To see the fruits of our labor with the 15 approved programs was the icing on the cake."
San Diego Mesa College will offer a health information management program to train students to work with electronic health records and technology issues at hospitals.
"This is a jobs bill more than it is anything else," Carroll said.
Officials at Cypress College in north Orange County said they hoped to expand their mortuary science program by the spring of 2017. The school, which is among the fifteen selected, has the only such program south of Sacramento. Campus officials said the closest public university that offers a bachelor's degree in mortuary science is located in Oklahoma.
"We are very pleased," said Jolena Grande, the president of Cypress College's Academic Senate, which represents faculty members.
Glendale Community College applied to offer a baccalaureate degree in real estate appraisal but was not chosen. David Viar, the school's president, said it would have met a "valuable regional workforce need" and that he would recommend applying again if the state expands the program.
FOR THE RECORD
Jan. 21, 12:41 p.m.: An earlier version of this article misidentified Glendale Community College President David Viar as David Vicar.
The campuses and programs approved Tuesday are:
Antelope Valley College -- airframe manufacturing technology
Bakersfield College -- industrial automation
Crafton Hills College -- emergency services and allied health systems
Cypress College -- mortuary science
Feather River College -- equine industry
Foothill College -- dental hygiene
MiraCosta College -- biomanufacturing
Modesto Junior College --respiratory care
Rio Hondo College -- automotive technology
San Diego Mesa College -- health information management
Santa Ana College -- occupational studies
Santa Monica College -- interaction design
Shasta College -- health information management
Skyline College -- respiratory therapy
West Los Angeles College -- dental hygiene