In 2018, a law was passed in Missouri, allowing community colleges to grant bachelor’s degrees in certain cases.
On March 3rd, 2021, Missouri’s Coordinating Board for Higher Education approved plans for Ozarks Technical Community College in Springfield and St. Louis Community College to offer bachelor's degree programs.
The Great Basin College was the first community college in Nevada to gain approval to offer bachelor’s degrees. They offer over 13 bachelor’s degree programs in a variety of workforce fields.
Other community colleges that offer bachelor’s degrees include:
North Dakota has very few options for community colleges that also offer bachelor’s degrees.
- Automation Management
- Cybersecurity and Information Technology (BAS)
- Energy Management (BAS)
According to state law, community colleges can apply to offer applied bachelor’s degrees. There are currently two community colleges that offer bachelor’s degrees.
- Bachelor of Applied Science in Addictions and Integrated Treatment Services
- Bachelor of Applied Science in Smart Industrial Automated Systems Engineering Technology
Oklahoma has very few options for community colleges that also offer bachelor’s degrees.
Oklahoma State University-Oklahoma City and Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology-Okmulgee, are some examples of associate-level colleges that offer bachelor’s degrees programs.
The state Legislature passed Senate Bill 3 in 2019, which allows community colleges to offer bachelor’s degrees, in certain cases. Community colleges must present their case and prove that the program they’re introducing is needed in the workforce. However, most community colleges are not actively adding bachelor’s programs to their curriculums yet.
“Right now, we are not actively exploring a (four-year degree program) because we don’t see a clear option to explore but we will always be open to having that conversation with local business and industry,” says Laurie Chesley, President of Central Oregon Community College.
In 2018, under House Bill 4931, technical colleges were given permission to offer bachelor’s degrees in advanced manufacturing technology, in certain cases.
Programs must be approved by the South Carolina Board for Technical and Comprehensive Education and South Carolina Commission on Higher Education.
In 2002, community colleges in Texas proposed adding Bachelor of Applied Science (BAS) and Bachelor of Applied Technology (BAT) degrees to their curriculum. They argued that four-year institutions were offering programs that were not sufficient for the needs of adult workers.
In 2003, the legislature approved a pilot project that allowed certain community colleges to offer limited BAS and BAT degrees.
In 2007, a law passed, granting community colleges permanent approval to offer these programs.
The three colleges that gained approval were:
In 1992, Utah Valley Community College (UVCC) gained approval to offer bachelor’s degrees. Eventually, in 2008, UVCC became Utah Valley University. It now offers over 53 bachelor’s programs.
In 1999, Dixie Junior College gained approval to offer bachelor’s degrees. Now known as Dixie State College of Utah (DSCU), DSCU offers over 16 bachelor’s programs.
In 2005, the state approved a pilot project in which four community colleges were allowed to offer certain bachelor’s degrees. This was to cater to the needs of the community that were not being met by other colleges.
Due to the success of the pilot program, the state is now approving more and more bachelor's degrees.
The colleges that gained approval were:
West Virginia has very few options for community colleges that also offer bachelor’s degrees. Parkersburg Community College is now known as West Virginia University.
West Virginia University now offers over 11 bachelor’s degrees in a variety of workforce fields.
In 2019, the Wyoming Community College Commission (WCCC) authorized community colleges to offer applied for bachelor’s programs.
The WCCC is required to report annually to the Legislature on the progress of the bachelor’s programs. The financial impact of offering bachelor’s programs at community colleges is then assessed.
Western Wyoming Community College offers bachelor’s degrees in business management
Now that you have a better idea of which states offer bachelor’s degrees at community college, here is a list of some of the benefits of enrolling in such a program.
Lower Tuition Costs
On average, tuition costs at community colleges are significantly lower than at most four-year colleges.
The Education Data Org. reports that the average cost of community college attendance in 2021 is $7,460 total or $1,865 per semester.
Whereas, the average cost of most four-year institutions in 2021 is $35,720 per student per year. The cost has tripled in 20 years, with an annual growth rate of 6.8%.
Hence, obtaining a bachelor’s degree at a community college can be a great opportunity for students to pursue their higher education with a lesser financial burden.
Related: Local Community Colleges: 10 Benefits that Boost Your Advantage
Community colleges are known for catering to non-traditional students by having a flexible schedule.
They typically offer day, evening, and weekend classes, giving opportunities to students that are part-time workers and those who have other commitments. Some community colleges also offer online degrees and courses.
Did you know? While very rare, some community colleges offer master's degrees?
Pursuing your bachelor’s degree from a community college can be an amazing opportunity for some. However, there are a few drawbacks to consider before making a final decision.
Fewer Degree Opportunities
Over the years, more and more community colleges have started introducing bachelor’s programs into their curriculum.
However, they are still considerably less as compared to traditional four-year colleges. There are still many states that don’t have laws that permit community colleges from offering bachelor’s degrees.
Moreover, in the states that have community colleges that offer bachelor’s degrees, there are very limited degree options. This closes doors for many students looking to pursue more non-traditional bachelor’s degrees such as art, history, etc.
The goal of community colleges offering bachelor’s degrees is not to replace the pre-existing four-year colleges. Rather, it is to cater to the needs and demands of the workforce by providing specialized degrees in healthcare and technology fields.
Moreover, it gives opportunities to students who would typically be unable to pursue their higher education.
Whether you choose to pursue a bachelor’s degree at a community college or not, make sure to do your full research and investigate all your options to make the best decision!