Starting this fall, Texas Southmost College and South Texas College will offer four-year degrees complying with Texas Senate Bill 2118.
Texas Southmost College Interim President Mike Shannon and South Texas College founding President Shirley A. Reed on Monday signed an agreement where students from either institution can pursue a bachelor’s degree at South Texas College.
Introduced in March, SB 2118 gives public junior colleges authorization to offer four year degrees.
“This gives us an opportunity for our students that come to Texas Southmost College who complete an associate degree with us to transfer to South Texas College to get a bachelors degree,” Shannon said. “And why that’s so important is that community colleges are able to offer bachelor degrees much less expensive than universities do.”
According to the agreement signed by both presidents, the 16 applied associate degrees such as paralegal studies, respiratory care and business management and technology can be transferred to the four applied bachelor degree programs at STC.
Four-year programs that will be offered in the fall are organizational leadership, technology management, medical and health service management and computer and information technologies.
STC’s University Relations Officer Kelli Davis and Deborah Huerta, TSC’s Academic Lead for the Division of Humanities, have been working together to create the agreement since March.
“It takes about a couple of months to go ahead and line up the courses and line up the programs to make sure we have a nice match between (TSC’s) program and (STC’s) program,” Huerta said.
Huerta said the good thing about the agreement is when students transition to get a four-year degree they will not lose any of their academic hours.
“They’ll just go ahead and take all of their credit hours that they earned here with us and they’ll apply all of those credits into a baccalaureate program,” Huerta said.
Davis said people who have associate degrees don’t really have a lot of options when looking for a job.
“For (associate of applied science) degree seekers they don’t have a lot of options, their degrees are considered terminal,” Davis said. “So if they try to go to UTRGV (the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley,) UTRGV is going to say, ‘Great. You took all these career centered courses but we’re not going to accept them for transfer.’ So with these programs we take all of those courses and we replace our lower level field of study courses so they go in as a junior whereas if they try to transfer to UTRGV they’d still be a freshman.”
Shannon said the agreement is an example on how TSC and STC are working together to fulfill the educational needs of the Rio Grande Valley.
“This is just going to be the first of many agreements like this that we’re going to continue to have students traveling all over the Valley going to school as we continue to work together,” Shannon said.