Oceanside CA— At today’s California Community Colleges Board of Governors meeting, the board voted to give MiraCosta College initial approval to host a pilot baccalaureate program. MiraCosta College is among only 15 of California’s 112 community colleges selected to host a program.
“This is an historic moment not just for California’s community colleges, but also for MiraCosta College,” said MiraCosta College Superintendent/President Sunny Cooke. “I want to extend my appreciation, gratitude and congratulations to the many MiraCosta College faculty, staff and administrators whose vision and persistence made our selection possible.”
The program will prepare students for employment in the manufacturing sector of the biotechnology industry, which includes biotherapeutics, diagnostics, supplies and services, and industrial products. The degree will also prepare graduates for technical and quality assurance/control-related positions.
“The biomanufacturing baccalaureate program will help fulfill an unmet workforce need for the greater San Diego region,” said Dr. Cooke. “It builds on an already exemplary Biotechnology Program and is responsive to the local need for trained manufacturing and production technicians in North County. Due to our location and our relationships with local biotechnology companies, MiraCosta College is uniquely positioned to meet this biotechnology workforce need.”
San Diego County is one of the top three life-science clusters in the country, with many biotech companies operating in the MiraCosta College district, which spans from Oceanside to Carmel Valley. Local biotechnology companies have expressed their support of the proposed baccalaureate program, including Genentech, MO BIO Laboratories, Gilead Sciences, Inc., Genomatica, Inc., Thermo Fisher Scientific, SAFC Pharma, Assure Controls, and Beckman Coulter.
“Our proposal for a degree program in biomanufacturing is incredibly important to our region and, specifically, North County San Diego,” said Mike Fino, MiraCosta College biological sciences instructor. “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.”
Under the law, the four-year degree program must be up and running by at least the 2017-18 academic year, however, districts may start their programs by the fall 2015 semester. Districts must also seek approval from the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges to start a program. The California Community Colleges Board of Governors will take a second vote to finalize the programs selected in March 2015.
The board action is in response to legislation sponsored by Sen. Marty Block (D-San Diego) and signed by the governor last year that allows up to 15 districts to establish a pilot baccalaureate degree program at one of their colleges in a field of study not offered by the California State University or University of California. Lower-division course work would cost $46 and upper-division course work would cost $84 under the new program, with an estimated total cost of about $10,000 to obtain a bachelor’s degree.
Additional administrative details about the MiraCosta College program will be shared as they become available.