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Dive Brief:

  • The California State University system has objected to seven proposed degree programs at the state’s community colleges, citing concerns that they would create undue competition between the two systems. 
  • The California Community College system is allowed to offer bachelor’s degrees, with the proviso that the programs not unnecessarily duplicate ones already provided by the state’s two public university systems, Cal State and the University of California.
  • The community college chancellor’s office is working with Cal State to address the duplication concerns, per a Monday meeting of the community college system’s board of governors. If needed, the two systems will meet with the community colleges proposing the programs to resolve objections through a written agreement.

Dive Insight:

California’s program allowing community colleges to launch bachelor’s programs is designed to give place-bound students and military veterans access to four-year degrees. In 2021, lawmakers greatly expanded the program, allowing the community college system to establish up to 30 new degrees each year. 

The cycle of applications discussed Monday — the second of four rounds planned so far — included 14 possible degree programs, whittled down from 29 proposals the community college chancellor’s office received in January.

In May, the board approved seven of the programs, ranging from dental hygiene to avionics, following no objections from either Cal State or University of California system or from the Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities. The AICCU represents private nonprofit institutions in the state and can also weigh in on the creation of new degrees.

But the remaining seven could infringe on preexisting Cal State programs, according to the university system. Those programs are:

  • Sustainable Architecture at College of the Canyons.
  • Biomanufacturing at Los Angeles Mission College.
  • Applied Cybersecurity and Network Operations at Moorpark College.
  • Stem Cell and Gene Technologies at Pasadena City College.
  • Performance and Production of Electronic Popular Music: Emphasis on Electronic Digital Instrument Performance at Rio Hondo College.
  • Public Safety Management at San Diego Miramar College.
  • Cloud Computing at Santa Monica College.

Meanwhile, at least one recent research report has found program duplication concerns to be exaggerated.

“Community colleges have continuously served different student communities than the CSUs and UCs, and can help address the undersupply of qualified workers in certain industries,” said the report from the University of California, Los Angeles’ Civil Rights Project.

The chancellor’s office is accepting applications for a third round of program approvals, due Sept. 5. Interested community colleges will find out if they’ve been approved for the third round by the end of the year.