Community Colleges Pilot Program to Offer Bachelor’s Degrees Under New Law

October 2014

On September 28, 2014, Governor Brown signed Senate Bill 850 (“SB 850”), which adds Education Code section 78040, et seq., authorizing the Board of Governors of the California Community Colleges, in consultation with the California State University and the University of California, to establish a statewide baccalaureate degree pilot program at not more than 15 community college districts, with one baccalaureate degree program each.  The districts will be selected by the Chancellor of the California Community Colleges and approved by the Board of Governors.  SB 850 is effective on January 1, 2015.

SB 850 requires that a selected district commence its baccalaureate degree pilot program by the beginning of the 2017–2018 academic year and requires any student participating in the program to complete his or her degree by the end of the 2022–2023 academic year.  The new law also requires participating community college districts to meet specified requirements, including, but not limited to, offering baccalaureate degree programs not offered by the California State University or the University of California in subject areas with unmet workforce needs.

Under SB 850, the governing board of a participating community college district must submit certain items for review by the Chancellor and approval by the Board of Governors, including, among other things, the administrative plan for the baccalaureate degree pilot program and documentation of consultation with the California State University and the University of California.  

The law also provides that the Legislative Analyst’s Office (“LAO”) is to conduct both a statewide interim evaluation and a statewide final evaluation of the baccalaureate degree pilot program.  The LAO must report to the Legislature and Governor the results of the interim evaluation on or before July 1, 2018, and the results of the final evaluation on or before July 1, 2022.  SB 850 requires that, on or before March 31, 2015, the Board of Governors of the California Community Colleges develop, and adopt by regulation, a funding model for the support of the statewide baccalaureate degree pilot program.

SB 850 has a “sunset” provision that makes the law inoperative on July 1, 2023 and repeals the law in its entirety on January 1, 2024, unless another statute is enacted that removes or extends those dates.

If you have any questions regarding SB 850 or any issue concerning community college districts, please call one of our six offices.

F3 NewsFlash prepared by Howard A. Friedman and John W. Norlin.
Howard is a Partner in the F3 Los Angeles office.
John is Special Counsel in the F3 San Diego office.



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