Ep 67: Community College Bachelor’s Degrees Gain Ground

In the last month, California enacted a law that could greatly expand the number of bachelor’s degree programs being offered by the state’s 116 community colleges. And Arizona approving legislation allowing massive systems like the Maricopa Community Colleges to award their own four-year degrees for the first time.

Half of all states now enable their community colleges to offer baccalaureate degrees, but how many, and in what fields, remain a source of contention in many places. Advocates for the programs say they fill essential gaps left by four-year institutions in their states in providing educational opportunities to adults and other underrepresented students and meeting essential needs in health care and other industries. Efforts to create or expand community college bachelor’s programs are often opposed by four-year colleges and universities concerned about the quality of the programs and, let’s be honest, lower-cost competition.

There’s a lot we don’t know about these emerging programs, and in this week’s episode of The Key, Debra Bragg of New America describes a report mapping the community college baccalaureate landscape. In the interview, she describes what we already know – and have yet to learn – about these programs, how we might gauge their effectiveness, and what they tell us about why so many students struggle along the traditional path of transferring from two-year to four-year institutions.

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