Arizona House passes legislation to allow community colleges to offer four-year degrees

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Jason White

Maricopa County Community College District office building

Ole Olafson , Reporter

On Monday, the Arizona House passed legislation that would allow community colleges in Arizona to offer four-year, baccalaureate degrees.

If passed by the Arizona Senate, House Bill 2523, sponsored by Representative Becky Nutt would allow community colleges in the state to offer a certain number of baccalaureate degree with some specific stipulations.

In counties like Maricopa, with populations of over 750,000, community colleges would only be able to offer 10% of their total number of degrees and certifications as bachelor degrees during the first four years that they offer those degrees.  In the fifth year and beyond, that number would increase to 15%.

Colleges hoping to offer four-year degrees would have to meet regional accreditation and state licensure requirements as well as proving they have the appropriate facilities, faculty and finances to support the baccalaureate programs.

Furthermore, schools will have to show that programs under consideration for baccalaureate status fill a need in the regional workforce and verify that there is a student demand for the program.

The opportunity may come at an ideal time, as the passage of Proposition 207 pledged a portion of the taxes collected from the sales of recreational marijuana to community colleges.