Scottsdale Community College to offer bachelor’s degrees in the coming semesters
On May 4, Governor Doug Ducey signed legislation that allows community colleges statewide to expand their curriculum to include four-year degrees.
Arizona is the 24th state to grant this opportunity to community colleges in an effort to help grow the workforce and expand the reach of higher education.
“Arizona community colleges play a vital role in supporting students of all ages and in equipping our workforce with skills and resources,” Governor Ducey said in a press release.
For colleges looking to adopt new bachelor’s degree programs, each degree will need to be approved based on specific criteria such as program feasibility and different workforce needs.
The news of the legislation has thrown community colleges in Maricopa County into a frenzy of excitement, but it may be some time before its students can enroll in four-year programs, officials said.
Scottsdale Community College Acting President Chris Haines explained that with the meticulous planning involved and recently passed legislation, programs are unlikely to be offered until fall 2023.
“A lot of that kind of work will sort of be worked out over the next year or two … so we still have a little bit of time to get things done here,” Ms. Haines said.
At this time, no fixed plan has been set for what baccalaureate programs to offer, but colleges will likely begin more detailed planning this fall.
“There’s a lot, a lot of work to be done and that’s probably why we’re still looking at Fall 23,” Ms. Haines said.
(INDEPENDENT NEWSMEDIA / ARIANNA GRAINEY)
As interim president of the CCN, Ms. Haines says she is excited about the new opportunities the school will have for its students.
Until these degrees can be offered, in about two years, CCN and other community colleges in Maricopa County will work together to create plans that will provide its students with quality and diverse programming.
The planning process will be intensive, Haines said, as schools will need to consider tuition fees, curriculum, and hiring instructors who can teach higher-level courses.
“It’s nothing we’re going to get into, but we’re going to do our best to give them a great experience,” she said.
Each school will also research and decide what programs to offer, primarily considering labor-intensive areas such as healthcare, IT, and education.
According to Ms Haines, the school was especially hopeful that the legislation would finally be passed this year after their connections on Capitol Hill assured them the bill was on the move.
“When he got to the governor’s office and signed it, we were all very excited,” she said. “We still had to figure out what this meant, but we are really excited about our students and the access it provides.
She explained that community colleges have been discussing it for years as it could improve students’ access to opportunities, affordability and higher education through the initiative.
This is because often students cannot afford a bachelor’s degree at schools like Arizona State University or the University of Arizona.
But, by offering them in community colleges, students, including CSC students, would have increased access to higher degrees at a more reasonable price.
“I’m so excited for our students to get this degree and to know that they won’t be burdened for years and years and years when it comes to loans,” said Ms. Haines.
Although no fixed tuition fees were decided, she estimated the price could be around $ 125 to $ 127 per credit hour, which is still a significant price difference compared to larger institutions.
Pricing largely affects students’ access to higher education, which is why a bachelor’s degree from a community college is an attractive choice for those who may not have the money to pay off huge debt. student loans at a major university.
“Now they have the chance to stay with us and get that degree and that’s what really excites me is the opportunities for our students,” Ms. Haines said.
She also explained that the CCN and other colleges in the East Valley – like Chandler, Mesa and Gilbert – will work together to reassure and support students taking classes on different campuses.
“We want them to know that we’re going to do our best to make sure they can stay in the East Valley and get the study plans they want,” Ms. Haines said.
Support student progress
SCC faculty is invested in student success, Haines said, which is why the school is taking the time to carefully design its bachelor’s programs now that community colleges are licensed to offer them.
“We’re going to make sure we’re doing this right and that we are solid about our processes, policies and that everything we do is to help students succeed,” she said.
With most of the students off campus due to COVID-19, it has been difficult to gauge how students feel about the new four-year program to offer.
The campus observed health and safety policies, such as the wearing of masks, and the staff on campus was limited.
“I’ve heard from a small number of them,” Ms. Haines said. “I think most of them were the athletes I saw every now and then, but they were all very excited about it.”
She noted that most students are aware of recent legislation, but that she has not heard a wide variety of opinions on it.
“Everything is new right now, so we’re really trying, first of all, to enjoy it and we’re all excited about it,” Ms. Haines said. “But the hard work will probably start this fall when we really start to bring the teams together and find out what we can and cannot do.”