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MiraCosta hopes to offer 4-year degrees

REGION—Sometimes colleges have to fill out applications too.

MiraCosta Community College submitted an application to be one of the 15 community colleges to offer a four-year bachelor’s degree, as part of a pilot program being launched by the state.

State Sen. Marty Block (D-San Diego) sponsored Senate Bill 850, which was signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown.

Of the 72 community college districts, only 15 will be chosen for the program. So far, 36 districts have applied.

The biomanufacturing program will launch by 2017, if selected.

“The baccalaureate program will provide a tremendous opportunity for the students at MiraCosta College and our feeder high schools,” said Dr. Mary Benard, Vice President of Instructional Services.

MiraCosta already has a biotech program. If approved, it will be expanded.

“The proposed program builds on an exemplary Biotechnology Program already present at the college and is responsive to the growing need for baccalaureate trained manufacturing and production technicians in North County,” Benard said.

San Diego County is the third largest biotechnology and life sciences hub in the nation, behind Boston and San Francisco.

“Objectively, this is a remarkably worthy degree program that is industry-responsive with well-paid, in-demand career paths within an industry segment that is one of the largest in the nation,” Mike Fino, MiraCosta College biological sciences instructor said.

The state Chancellor’s Office, along with help from officials in the University of California and California State University programs, will decide which districts are awarded the degree certificate based on geographic distribution, diversity, the ability for the district to provide rigorous courses and that the program would solve a local or statewide workforce need.

Biotechnology companies, like Thermo Fisher Scientific and Genentech, have expressed the need for a skilled workforce to MiraCosta officials.

“North San Diego County has several excellent biotechnology initiatives underway and MiraCosta can help prepare students at the baccalaureate degree level for employment. The idea of a very affordable baccalaureate degree option for some community college students is exciting,” Dr. Richard Robertson, Interim president/superintendent said.

Officials estimate the cost for the degrees to be $10,000.

The community colleges are not allowed to offer the same degrees as CSUs or UCs.

The 15 schools will be chosen by Jan. 21.

MiraCosta was approved earlier this year to open a technology center on Las Palmas Drive in Carlsbad. The North San Diego Technology Career Institute should open in the coming weeks.