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Bellevue College gains accreditation for bachelor's programs

Bellevue College announced today it has earned accreditation for its fledgling baccalaureate program from the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

The commission, which certifies all higher-education institutions in the Northwest, also gave accreditation to South Seattle Community College and Olympic College, of Bremerton.

A fourth school, Peninsula College in Port Angeles, is still seeking accreditation.

The state legislature in 2005 authorized a limited number of two-year colleges to offer four-year bachelor's degrees as a cost-efficient way to meet demand for baccalaureate-level education and a more skilled workforce.

The two state boards that oversee higher education eventually chose four schools to launch the initiative.

Bellevue College began its baccalaureate program in 2007 by offering a Bachelor of Applied Science in Radiation and Imaging Services. This year, the school added a bachelor of arts in interior design.

Bachelor's degree offerings from the other schools include nursing from Olympic, hospitality management at South Seattle, and applied management at Peninsula.

All four institutions awarded their first baccalaureate degrees to a total of 57 students last spring.

"Community college baccalaureate programs offer benefits around the table," Bellevue College President Jean Floten said in a statement. "They serve employers' needs; they open up new opportunities to students who are place-bound by family or other obligations; and they conserve state resources by leveraging existing investments in college campuses and staffing."

Bellevue College dropped the term "community college" from its name last spring to become simply Bellevue College.

Floten said at the time that the change was needed because people associate the term "community college" with associate degrees, and because the school wanted its first baccalaureate graduates to have "Bellevue College" on their diplomas.

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