Collaboration in Civic Spheres

Bellevue College seeks approval of new bachelor’s degree program in ‘Big Data’ analytics; fall 2014 start eyed

by July 2nd, 2012

For many community college students in Washington state, getting a two-year associate degree might be a ticket into the workplace. But more so than ever, advancing to a higher rank and responsibilities requires more education. So rather than merely serve as a cost-effective warm-up for further training elsewhere, some community colleges in Washington state, including one that has dropped the word “community” from its name, are stepping up with their own special “applied baccalaureate” or career-centric bachelor’s degree programs in high-demand fields which have been emphasized by regional employers during outreach efforts of educators. One such institution is Bellevue College, formerly Bellevue Community College. And as officials there have continued developing applied bachelor’s degree programs in subject areas mandated under a 2011 state budget proviso – namely, information technology, nursing, and environmental and biological sciences – they realized there was a missing piece of the equation. So in a required two-year plan for the new programs that they recently submitted to the state, Bellevue College announced its intention to add one more: Bachelor of Applied Science in Data Analytics. (See pp. 14-15 of the Bellevue College Applied Baccalaureate Degree Implementation Program).

Management requires growing analysis of “structured and unstructured” data
“Big Data is an ‘explosive’ trend,” the college says in its plan. “As large amounts of structured and unstructured data are being collected in all industry sectors, the emergence of of easy-to-use yet sophisticated analytics tools and portals is increasing rapidly…in healthcare, business, finance and other industries to increase operational efficiency and support professionals and administrators in all levels of decision-making.”

Bellevue College will form a multi-disciplinary workgroup to flesh out the new degree program and will provide a statement of need to the State Board of Community and Technical Colleges at the board’s first meeting this coming fall. The special degree program in data analytics would start in fall 2014, with the board’s okay, and would graduate its first students in spring of 2017.

A second batch of new special degree programs
Bellevue College has already introduced three applied baccalaureate degrees. The programs in Radiation and Imaging Sciences, and Interior Design have already graduated students; while the first enrollees in the Healthcare Technology and Management program begin in the coming school year. The new bachelor’s degree programs would be Information and Systems Technology, and Registered Nurse, both starting in Fall 2013, followed by Biological and Environmental Technology, and Data Analytics, both in fall 2014.

The programs are meant to serve a diverse group of students, from high school grads to those who hold associate’s degrees. The college and the legislature, and especially regional employers, also hope that some new students are current employees who want to move into a more supervisory, managerial role.

Bellevue College’s two-year plan for the new programs says that in the case of the new Healthcare Management concentration, this might include “a supervisor in a catheterization laboratory” who “moved into that role from a position as a technician” but has received “no formal education as a manager” or other “medical professionals with two-year degrees” who “may wish to move into management roles but need to complete a baccalaureate degree” first.

No new funding is coming from the state so public post-secondary schools developing new bachelor’s degree programs will have to shuffle monies received form the state based on full-time enrollment. However Bellevue College states in its two-year plan for the newest applied bachelor’s degree programs that like several of their immediate predecessors, they will be operated on self-supporting basis only.

The Seattle Community College District also recently submitted its two-year implementation plan to the state for new Bachelor of Applied Science degree programs in Professional Technical Teacher Education, at South Seattle Community College; and Allied Health, at Seattle Central Community College. (It is found immediately after the Bellevue College plan, here.) The SCCD is to subsequently develop implementation plans for several more special bachelor’s degree programs specified by the state.

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