CCC 4-year degree bill awaits signature from Gov. Brown

Some California community colleges could be launching pilot four-year degree programs as soon as January 2015, depending on Gov. Brown’s decision on the senate-approved bill now at his desk.

Senate Bill 850, which was recently approved by the California senate, seeks to amend an existing law that states community colleges in the state are allowed to only offer lower-division coursework and two-year degrees. The bill would allow for the California Community Colleges Board of Governors to consult with UC and CSU officials to create four-year degrees not already offered at public universities.

“In today’s economy, many businesses require their employees to possess a four-year degree or higher skill sets than are offered through associate degree programs, even in fields such as dental hygiene or automotive technology where a two-year degree would have been sufficient in the past,” Brice W. Harris, California community colleges chancellor, said in a recent statement.

“This bill will enable California community colleges to confer bachelor’s degrees in areas not currently served by the California State University or University of California and help close the skills gap in our workforce. I applaud the Legislature for addressing California’s urgent workforce needs.”

“I think any change is good,” Nguyen, an automotive technology student, said. “As long as the two-year option is still available, more training couldn’t hurt.”

The bill would allow for 15 community colleges in the state, which are undecided as of yet, to offer one bachelor’s degree each in fields that are not currently offered by the UC or CSU systems. The pilot program would be an experiment to analyze the effectiveness of the four-year degree offerings.

“It seems pretty cool,” kinesiology major James Doctor said. “It would be convenient for people around here. It would be beneficial, but there could be disadvantages. I wonder if it would increase costs. If it doesn’t and is still cheaper than universities that would be good.”

“I don’t know the logistics behind it, but for someone in my case it would be convenient,” added his cousin, Josh Doctor. “It would save me time…if they can pull it off.”