PHOENIX (NWN) — Arizona’s largest community college system, acting under a new state law, has issued a slate of four-year degrees employed in education, health care, information technology and other fields.
Maricopa County Community College District announced on Wednesday that the planned degrees will be offered “after the fall of 2023,” pending approval by the District Board and the Higher Education Commission, a regional accrediting agency.
Gov. Doug Ducey signed a bill approved by the Legislature in May to allow community colleges to offer bachelor’s degrees. Before the new law, community colleges were only able to offer degrees under programs lasting no more than two years, along with vocational certificates.
The community college district’s planned offerings include bachelor’s degrees in programming and data analytics, information technology, public safety administration, behavioral health sciences, nuclear medicine technology and imaging, early childhood education and dual certification, spanning eight of the district’s 10 colleges. . Elementary and special education.
The district said the teams have identified programs that meet the intent of the new law to expand the state’s higher education opportunities.
“These programs will support the many students working at MCCD, who would not ordinarily transfer to university after earning a two-year degree,” the district said in a statement. “Now, students in these programs will have the convenience and affordability to continue after their associate degree with one of the colleges of the MCCCD.”
The next step in this process will be to increase the curriculum and requirements for each degree next year, said the district, which currently serves about 100,000 students.
The district’s statement said the district “looks forward to providing additional level degrees in high-demand industry sectors such as nursing and respiratory care in the coming years.”
Proponents of proposals to allow community colleges to offer four-year degrees point to the higher tuition costs for obtaining four-year degrees at Arizona’s three public universities and the possibility of providing higher education closer to students’ homes.
Critics cited the potential for duplication with universities that have a series of satellite campuses in addition to their main campuses, adding that community college students can transfer to a university to earn a four-year degree.
Ducey signed the law, saying it would help train the state’s current and future workforce and provide new options for students, including those from a historically underrepresented population in higher education.
“Arizona is a school choice state, and today’s action is school choice for higher education,” Ducey said in a statement.