Health Information Management graduates from San Diego Mesa College participate in commencement ceremonies. Photo courtesy of the San Diego Community College District.

Legislation that eases the way for community college students to earn bachelor’s degrees in specific workforce fields not offered by the University of California or California State University was signed Wednesday by Gov. Gavin Newsom.

Assembly Bill 927 eliminates the 2026 sunset date on 15 existing baccalaureate degree programs and opens the door to as many as 30 new bachelor’s programs per year at any of the state’s 116 community colleges. The bill was sponsored by Assemblyman Jose Medina (D-Riverside), who chairs the Higher Education Committee.

Constance M. Carroll, Ph.D., president and CEO of the California Community Colleges Baccalaureate Association, said the bill is urgently needed given the state’s evolving workforce needs. Carroll co-chairs statewide legislative efforts advocating for the baccalaureate program with Foothill-De Anza Community College District Chancellor Judy C. Miner, Ed.D.

“This is a historic decision that sets a bold direction for California’s 116 community colleges, enabling them to meet the workforce needs of local communities in an accessible, affordable, and high quality manner,” said Carroll, who recently retired after serving 17 years as chancellor of the San Diego Community College District. “This is a great decision and a win-win for students.” 

San Diego County is home to five community college districts — Grossmont-Cuyamaca in East County; MiraCosta and Palomar, both in North County; Southwestern in Chula Vista; and the San Diego Community College District — that educate hundreds of thousands of students in an array of fields and prepare them for the workforce or to transfer to four-year colleges.

A recent study by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) identified the need for more than 1 million bachelor’s degree holders in California in the coming decade, especially in critical workforce fields. The PPIC found that, in order to keep up with the demand for a college-educated workforce, the state would need to increase the number of bachelor’s degrees awarded by 40%.

The bill establishes a process for the California Community Colleges Chancellor to consult with and seek feedback from the California State University and University of California systems on proposed baccalaureate degrees and would require individual districts seeking approval to provide evidence of unmet workforce needs.