Mortuary Science — a program so well regarded that the HBO series “Six Feet Under” repeatedly referenced Cypress College to add authenticity — will be the North Orange County Community College District’s applicant for California’s pilot program to award baccalaureate degrees at community colleges. No more than 15 programs will be selected for the program’s trial period.
Trustees voted 4-1 on Tuesday, November 11 to file an intention to apply for inclusion on behalf of the Mortuary Science Program. Districts can only submit one program, and those programs must not conflict with bachelor’s-degree programs already offered in the Cal States or UCs. Trustees also considered a proposal on behalf of Fullerton College’s Administration of Justice program which would have focused on a bachelor’s degree in law enforcement supervision.
In September, Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation that allows California community colleges to award bachelor’s degrees in a pilot program.
According to the state Chancellor’s Office, the CCCCO will decide in consultation with UC and CSU which districts will be chosen to host programs, subject to California Community Colleges Board of Governors approval. Districts will be selected according to their ability and interest in establishing rigorous undergrad programs that confer degrees in high occupational demand among regional employers. Achieving a geographical balance of districts to maximize student enrollment will be another factor.
Instruction in the pilot baccalaureate degree program in 15 college districts will begin no later than the 2017-18 academic year. Under the new law, community colleges would charge only $84 more per unit for upper-division baccalaureate coursework than they currently charge for lower-division courses. The Legislative Analyst’s Office will conduct an interim evaluation of the bachelor’s degree program in 2018, and a final evaluation by July2022. The pilot program will end in the 2022-23 academic year, unless extended by the Legislature.
Nationwide, more than 50 community colleges operate almost 500 baccalaureate programs in 21 states.