Final Evaluation of Community College Bachelor's Degree Pilot

The Legislative Analyst's Office has just published the following report:

Final Evaluation of Community College Bachelor's Degree Pilot

Chapter 747 of 2014 (SB 850, Block) authorized the California Community Colleges (CCC) to offer bachelor’s degrees on a pilot basis at up to 15 community colleges. The degrees were required to be in subject areas that addressed unmet workforce needs in the region. Additionally, CCC was not to approve a program that duplicated instruction already offered by the state’s public universities. Chapter 747 directed our office to conduct interim and final evaluations of the pilot. This report reflects our final evaluation.

Based on our review, we concluded the pilot was only partly meeting its core objectives. Students reported several benefits of the pilot, particularly the low cost of attendance and an easier educational pathway for students with an associate degree in related majors. We also found, however, that many of the community college bachelor’s degree programs were small and not clearly addressing workforce needs. 

Given our findings, we believe the Legislature likely has more effective ways of meeting its overarching objectives of addressing student and workforce needs. We provide a couple of basic options the Legislature could consider instead of continuing the pilot—encouraging the development of shorter training programs linked with industry needs and improving alignment between CCC and the universities. Alternatively, were the Legislature to decide it wanted to retain and/or expand the pilot, we discuss several options for improving the pilot and ensuring any existing or new bachelor’s degree programs at the community colleges better meet workforce demands. Most notably, we encourage the Legislature to consider requiring programs to meet certain criteria to continue operating and a longer time line for developing and reviewing applications for new programs.

This report is available using the following link: https://lao.ca.gov/Publications/Report/4140?utm_source=laowww&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=4140