More schools can offer 4-year degrees

Nursing and education will be among the community college offerings.

Published January 19, 2007

The state Board of Education and the Board of Governors announced an agreement Thursday that allows community colleges to establish four-year degree programs in three areas: nursing, teacher education and workforce-related applied sciences such as fire management or construction management.

The agreement ends a long-running debate and related lawsuit, and comes as the Board of Governors considers a consultant's report that says community colleges should play a greater role in educating Florida's undergraduates.

Under the plan, which takes effect this month, community colleges can start new degree programs in the three designated areas.

Florida's existing 2+2 system has long provided students who earn associate's degrees a chance to finish their education in one of the 11 four-year universities.

But as universities grow more crowded, there is debate about how much of a role community colleges should play in undergraduate education.

Several community colleges, including St. Petersburg College, offer bachelor's programs, but the compromise opens the door to a significant expansion.

The Board of Education still must approve all new community college bachelor's programs.