State approves new degrees at BC

Bellevue College received approval today from the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges to develop two new bachelor’s degree programs – in Nursing and in Information Systems and Technology (IST). When the programs officially begin classes in fall 2013, the total number of four-year degrees offered at BC will be five.

“This is a win-win situation for both students and area employers,” said Leslie Heizer Newquist, director of applied baccalaureate programs at BC. “Citizens of the Eastside and the Puget Sound region will get access to bachelor’s degrees with affordable tuition that can help them land jobs with good salaries."

Bellevue College decided to add degrees in these fields after extensive labor market research indicated a growing need in the Puget Sound region and across Washington state for workers with at least a bachelor’s degree in nursing and in information technology (IT).

The complexity of healthcare has precipitated many hospitals and healthcare providers to increasingly require a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) of all nursing hires. A 2010 Institute of Medicine report recommended increasing the percentage of nurses with a BSN degree or above to 80 percent nationwide by 2020. Such requirements are already in place at several area hospitals, including Seattle Children’s, Swedish Medical Center and the University of Washington Medical Center. Additionally, a BSN is becoming the standard for nurses looking to advance into management roles within the profession.

In offering a BSN, the college will build on its accredited associate degree nursing program, which was founded in 1967. Students and current nurses who already have associate degrees will be the primary candidates, and those who enroll in the program will receive intensive instruction in healthcare IT, community and public health, and leadership and management functions.

BC proposed the second degree, in Information Systems and Technology, based in part on findings by the Bureau of Labor Statistics that a bachelor’s degree is now considered the minimum level of education for a variety of IT occupations, including computer programmer, computer systems analyst and database administrator.

The first of its kind in the state, the IT degree will provide a broad base of theoretical and technical knowledge, and students will specialize in one of four concentrations: application development, business intelligence; systems administration; and information security.

These new degrees join three existing four-year degrees currently offered at BC: Healthcare Technology and Management, which officially started this past fall quarter, Radiology and Imaging Sciences, and Interior Design. BC has proposed two more bachelor’s degrees, in biological and environmental technology and in data analytics; if approved by the state, they could be offered as soon as 2014.


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