March 12, 2021
California lawmakers are considering two bills that aim to make it easier for students to obtain four-year degrees.
One bill would allow community colleges to award bachelor’s degrees in high-demand fields, so long as they don’t duplicate those offered by California’s public universities. Another would bolster an existing program that smooths transfers from two- to four-year colleges.
The pandemic has underscored the need to ease transfer pathways and provide students with more affordable education options.
One bill would make permanent a pilot program that allows California community colleges to offer bachelor’s degrees. In 2015, lawmakers approved 15 schools to offer 11 programs as part of the test, EdSource reported.
California is one of at least two dozen states that allow community colleges to offer four-year degrees, usually to meet workforce shortages or address educational deserts. States often mandate that these degrees don’t compete with public four-year colleges’ offerings.
An analysis last year of California’s pilot found mixed results. About half of the programs produced graduates who were better prepared for industry roles and needed less on-the-job-training than other candidates. However, small cohort sizes — some of which averaged fewer than 15 students — suggested low student demand for the programs.