San Diego Mesa College has secured final approval from the California Community Colleges Board of Governors to offer a bachelor’s degree as early as this fall in the rapidly growing field of Health Information Management.
“After our strong advocacy for Senate Bill 850, I am delighted that Mesa College has been officially affirmed to offer the bachelor’s degree in Health Information Management,” said Constance M. Carroll, Chancellor, San Diego Community College District. “This will be a high-quality program, with top-notch faculty and facilities, and with definite jobs waiting for students who complete their degree. I am also hopeful that when the legislature understands the value of the community college baccalaureate, they will consider expanding the program to enable more community colleges to participate.”
The California Community Colleges Board of Governors’ March 16 action affirms a preliminary decision it made Jan. 20 to grant Mesa College and 11 other community colleges the go-ahead in offering bachelor’s degrees under the state’s historic Baccalaureate Pilot Program. Senate Bill 850, which was authored by Senator Marty Block and which became law Jan. 1, allows a limited number of colleges to develop baccalaureate programs in career technical fields.
“Today’s announcement is great news for students, health information professionals, and the San Diego workforce,” noted San Diego Mesa College President Dr. Pamela T. Luster. “Our faculty have been working diligently to write and submit the curriculum and program approvals, and we move forward confidently on behalf of our students.”
The Mesa College program will be offered through the college’s School of Health Sciences and Public Service. Up to 32 students can enroll each year, and they will be required to complete 60 units of lower-division coursework at $46 per unit. Students enrolled in upper-division coursework will pay an additional $84 per unit, with the total cost of the four-year program – not including books and other expenses – amounting to about $10,500.
Mesa College will enroll its first freshman class of 32 students in fall 2015. Upper level coursework will be offered in fall 2016 to individuals who meet the criteria for enrollment.
The Baccalaureate Pilot Program was fueled in part by several studies showing that the state needs to produce 60,000 more graduates with bachelor’s degrees annually by 2025 to meet workforce needs. California is joining 21 other states in which community colleges may also offer baccalaureate degrees.
The program will be headquartered in Mesa College’s state-of-the-art Allied Health and Training Facility, which opened in 2009. The $28.9-million, LEED gold certified building comprises 50,000 square feet for laboratories, classrooms, and offices. Just as important, Mesa College also has secured adequate clinical placement sites to support all program requirements.
Mesa College currently offers an associate degree in Health Information Technology, and the college began to plan for a four-year program midway through 2014 as Senate Bill 850 gained momentum in the state legislature. A recent survey of Mesa College students enrolled in the Health Information Technology associate degree program showed approximately 95 percent were interested in pursuing a bachelor’s degree if a baccalaureate program was offered at the Mesa College campus.
As the second-largest of California’s 72 community college districts, the San Diego Community College District serves approximately 100,000 students annually through three two-year colleges and San Diego Continuing Education. The three colleges, San Diego City College, San Diego Mesa College, and San Diego Miramar College, offer associate degrees and certificates in occupational programs that prepare students for transfer to four-year colleges and entry-level jobs. Beginning fall 2015, Mesa College will also offer baccalaureate degrees in the field of Health Information Management.
Among the largest community colleges in California and the nation, San Diego Mesa College is a fully accredited two-year college serving nearly 25,000 students and offering more than 190 associate degree and certificate programs, and in fall 2015, a baccalaureate degree in the field of Health Information Management. With its premiere fine art and music programs, robust language offerings and rigorous math and science curricula, Mesa ranks as San Diego’s top transfer institution. The college also serves as an important economic catalyst for the region. As a Title III and Title V eligible institution, Mesa College is committed to the success of all students, including underrepresented students and more than 1,000 veterans and their families. www.sdmesa.edu