Today, Dr. Nancy McCallin, president of the Colorado Community College System (CCCS), announced that the State Board for Community Colleges and Occupational Education approved the first four-year bachelor of applied science degree for the institutions it governs. The degree will be for the Water Quality Management program at Red Rocks Community College (RRCC). This degree will also need approval from the Colorado Commission for Higher Education and the Higher Learning Commission. Once they review the plan and approve it, RRCC will start offering the bachelor’s degree.
The legislation authorizing community colleges to offer bachelor of applied science degrees was initiated by the CCCS in the 2014 session of the Colorado General Assembly. The legislation addressed the gap in Colorado higher education whereby students who want to pursue career and technical studies do not have access to a four-year degree in their fields. Many specialized technical jobs increasingly require bachelor degrees for career advancement. However, most career and technical courses are not offered at and/or do not transfer to Colorado’s four-year institutions. This creates a situation where students have to retake courses spending more time and money to get their four-year degree. Twenty-two other states now offer four-year degrees at community colleges similar to Colorado’s legislation.
“We are very excited to approve this first bachelor of applied science program,” said McCallin. “When we first decided to pursue the legislation, we knew that there were unmet needs for our students and employers. This approval is the first step to provide students with the opportunity to earn a relevant, career-oriented four-year degree at an affordable cost in the communities where they live and work.
“Red Rocks Community College has an internationally-recognized Water Quality Management program, thus students have good prospects of finding high paying, rewarding jobs once they complete their education,” she said. “The next four-year degree we plan to pursue is for the dental hygiene programs at Community College of Denver and Pueblo Community College.”
The Colorado Community College System comprises the state’s largest system of higher education serving more than 151,000 students annually. It oversees career and academic programs in the 13 state community colleges and career and technical programs in more than 160 school districts and six other post-secondary institutions.