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Expanding Bachelor’s Degrees at Community Colleges

By: TXCAN    |   December 2021

Learn about House Bill 3348 and how it will expand the number of bachelor’s degrees offered at community colleges across Texas.

Community colleges provide an important access point to higher education for many students who are concerned about tuition costs, require a flexible course schedule, are geographically bound, or plan to later transfer to a four-year college or university. They may even resign themselves to the possibility of ultimately being unable to pursue a bachelor’s degree because of these educational barriers.
However, many students fail to realize that the Texas Legislature's passage of Senate Bill (SB) 2118 in 2017 allows community colleges to begin offering up to three bachelor’s degree programs to meet regional workforce needs. The passage of SB 2118 was immediately followed by community colleges across the state developing and launching bachelor’s in nursing, applied science, and applied technology. A list of some of the earliest adopters and the programs they launched is listed below:

  • South Texas College (STC)*Received special permission for 5 programs
    • Bachelor of Applied Technology (BAT) in Computer and Information Technologies, Technology Management, and Medical and Health Services Management
    • Bachelor of Applied Science (BAS) in Organizational Leadership
    • Bachelor of Science (BS) in Nursing
  • Austin Community College (ACC)
    • Bachelor of Science (BS) in Nursing
    • Bachelor of Applied Science (BAS) in Software Development
  • Lone Star College
    • Bachelor of Applied Technology (BAT) in Cyber Security
    • Bachelor of Applied Science (BAS) in Energy, Manufacturing, and Trades Management 
    • Bachelor of Science (BS) in Nursing
This year, the Texas Legislature sought to expand on SB 2118 and passed House Bill (HB) 3348 which will increase the number of authorized bachelors from three (3) to five (5). Already, community colleges, such as Dallas College and College of the Mainland, are launching initial bachelor’s degree programs while institutions such as ACC and Lone Star College are planning expansions to their current degree offerings. These exciting additions to Texas’ higher education landscape are providing new opportunities to students and, over time, their capacity and impact will only continue to grow.

So, the next time one of your students expresses concern about the cost of going to college for a bachelor’s degree, start the conversation by asking if they have looked at bachelor’s degrees offered by your local community college. In addition to being affordable, community colleges also tend to have smaller class sizes and a stronger focus on classroom teaching. It should also be noted community colleges often have robust campus engagement opportunities, including plays/concerts, guest speakers, clubs and organizations, sports/intramurals, campus events, and student support services that are similar to those present at large colleges or universities. Ultimately, the decision is up to the student, but expanding their options and empowering them with knowledge may open doors to new and exciting educational opportunities.

The Texas College Access Network (TxCAN) connects and supports college access initiatives across Texas, with the goal of increasing access to college and certificate programs.