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Higher Ed in the News

Line between community colleges and four-year universities is blurring

May 3, 2009

In Florida, 14 community colleges are authorized to offer bachelor's degrees, and 12 already doing so, in fields as varied as fire safety management and veterinary technology.

Nationwide, 17 states, including Nevada, Texas and Washington, have allowed community colleges to award associate’s and bachelor’s degrees, and in some, the community colleges have become four-year institutions. Others states are considering community college baccalaureates. 

The expanding community colleges argue that they are fulfilling a need, providing four-year degrees to working people who often lack the money or the time to travel to a university. But some universities are fighting back, saying the community colleges are involved in “mission creep” that may distract them from their traditional mission and lead to watered-down bachelor’s degrees.

Community-college baccalaureates challenge the educational hierarchy’s boundaries between:

  • the research mission of universities
  • the teaching mission of colleges
  • open admissions for community colleges


Read more from the New York Times.