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Bachelor’s Degrees Expanding Rapidly

Now that we have a new law in Texas allowing community colleges to offer bachelor’s degrees with fewer restrictions, some schools are rapidly getting started, as reported here previously.

Two such colleges are profiled by Eva-Marie Ayala Connect in the Dallas Morning News.  Collin College officials hope to have a four-year nursing degree program running by 2019, and the Dallas County Community College District plans to offer its early childhood education degree soon after, though future degree holders will be in the pipeline well before that, according to the piece.

Hoping to address critical shortages in the state’s workforce, the Legislature during the recent Regular Session enacted a statute allowing for community colleges to offer bachelor’s degrees in high-need areas that include applied sciences, applied technology, and nursing. To offer a bachelor’s degree, community colleges must get approval from an accrediting body as well as the Coordinating Board. Accreditation will depend upon the profession.

Collin and DCCCD are just two examples of impending expansion. Policy makers do not believe duplication of university programs will be a problem. Plus, if you consider, say, nursing, a degree from a community college will cost far less than one offered by a university. As you probably know there is a severe nursing shortage in the U.S.

Here are a couple of key passages, but please read the entire DMN article.

Collin College already offers an associate’s degree in nursing, giving students a pathway to become a registered nurse. Registered nurses who have earned bachelor’s degrees are highly sought because they receive more rigorous training in areas such as leadership and epidemiology.

Donna Hatch, dean of nursing at Collin College, said about 90 percent of her students go on to earn bachelor’s degrees through partnerships with other universities. Offering a bachelor’s through Collin College could mean significant savings for students, she said; tuition is about $42 per semester hour there, compared with other schools’ costs that can top $200.

“Being able to earn a bachelor’s for under $10,000, to me, is huge and will attract many to the field,” she said. “We’re talking about addressing a catastrophic shortage that if we don’t solve, ultimately, it’s the patients who suffer from not having the staff we need to care for them.”

And:

Meanwhile, Dallas County Community College District officials are focused on educating the area’s youngest children.

Research repeatedly shows that a sound foundation in a quality early childhood education program can do more to ensure better outcomes for children than any intervention done later in life. DCCCD Chancellor Joe May said he’s repeatedly been told by area superintendents that they can’t find enough quality educators who have strong pre-K teaching backgrounds. The area is about 4,350 teachers short, he said.

“This is such a critical area that if we don’t get this right, nothing is going to come out right in terms of their educational and career opportunities,” May said. “If you’re not on grade level by grade one, you’re probably not ever going to get on grade level, and you’ll struggle.”