By B.C. Manion
Pasco-Hernando Community College (PHCC) wants to add bachelor’s degree programs in two high-demand fields.
The college’s board voted on Sept. 18 to offer a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing and a Bachelor of Applied Science degree — pending necessary approvals.
“We want to focus on getting those degrees, which we know are in high demand,” said Burt Harres, PHCC’s vice president of instruction and provost at the West Campus in New Port Richey.
To do so, PHCC must gain approval from the Division of Florida Colleges, as well as the Florida Department of Education and PHCC’s accrediting agency, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges.
Work has begun to pursue those approvals and the college hopes to launch both degree programs in August 2014.
The vote to branch into bachelor programs is a landmark decision for PHCC, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year.
In addition to expanding into the arena of bachelor programs, PHCC is also looking to expand its associate degree options by adding the necessary courses in accounting technology, financial services technology and fire science technology fields.
The college is interested in adding the accounting technology and financial services technology associate degrees in anticipation of Raymond James and T. Rowe Price locating in Pasco County, Harres said. The fire science technology program would be aimed at people training for jobs and advancing their careers.
The college aims to provide programs that serve community needs, Harres said.
The proposed Bachelor of Science in nursing degree would be an online program, and the Bachelor of Applied Science degree is expected to include some online courses, Harres said.
He said PHCC officials met with representatives of the University of South Florida (USF), Saint Leo University, Hillsborough Community College and other institutions to discuss PHCC’s desire to pursue the two bachelor programs before taking the issue to its board for approval.
Harres said there didn’t appear to be resistance from the other colleges, but noted that there will be an opportunity for public and private institutions to weigh in on PHCC’s request.
“We were actually approached by USF to consider offering the Bachelor of Applied Science,” Harres said. “The interest (in that degree) seems to be exceeding their capacity.”
PHCC can offer the bachelor’s of nursing program entirely online because nurses who have obtained their associate’s degree have already fulfilled their clinical requirements, Harres said.
The community college expects that enrollment for the new bachelor programs would come not only from Pasco and Hernando counties, but from Hillsborough County as well.
PHCC would not need to purchase additional equipment to offer the bachelor programs, but expects to add faculty members with doctoral degrees. It would also likely need additional resource materials for its library.
The community college desires to expand its offerings in part because “it keeps the competitive edge going,” Harres said.
It also offers a greater degree of convenience for students, particularly in Pasco and northern Hillsborough counties, at a lower cost, Harres said.
For more information on PHCC, visit phcc.edu.