For the first time in Sinclair Community College’s 132-year history, students will be able to pursue a bachelor’s degree this fall without transferring to a university.
Sinclair received final approval to offer two four-year degrees Friday from the Higher Learning Commission, a regional agency overseeing accreditation at colleges in 19 states. When classes start in August, Sinclair will begin offering a bachelor’s degree in unmanned aerial systems and another in aviation, provost Dave Collins said.
Previously, students had to transfer to colleges as far away as North Dakota to complete a bachelor’s degree in unmanned aerial systems, Collins said.
“I think there will be tremendous interest in the region,” Collins said of the new degrees. “It’s just going to open up those opportunities for this region.”
There are around 200 Sinclair students currently studying to obtain their associates degrees in each field, said Adam Murka, vice president of advancement. The school has not yet decided how many students it will accept on an annual basis in years three and four of the bachelor’s degree, Murka said.
But, students “in good standing” should be able to move seamlessly into the bachelor’s degree program Collins said. Students from other community colleges will be able to transfer to Sinclair to complete a four-year degree.
Along with keeping students in the Dayton region, Collins said the two degrees will address local workforce needs.
PSA Airlines, a a regional carrier of American Airlines based at the Dayton International Airport, is one local employer in need of more people with training in aviation technology, Collins said. Sinclair signed a agreement with PSA in 2017 to help train future pilots by establishing a “pilot cadet program.”
“This is a huge part of our region’s legacy,” Murka said of aerospace. “We think it’s a huge part of our region’s future.”
Community colleges in Ohio have aspired to offer bachelor’s degrees for years but they received a defeating push-back until 2017. Former Gov. John Kasich signed into law the concept of specialized four-year degrees at two-year schools in June 2017 when he signed into law his last state budget.
The Ohio Department of Higher Education gave its initial approval for Sinclair’s two degrees about a year ago. A third proposal from Sinclair for a four-year degree in industrial automation was deferred by ODHE.
Clark State Community College in Springfield plans to soon offer an applied bachelor’s degree in manufacturing technology management while Cincinnati State could offer four-year degrees in surveying and culinary and food science, according to the state.
Sinclair has since applied with the state to offer a bachelor’s degree of applied science in biotechnology and Clark State has submitted proposals for bachelor’s degrees in addictions and integrated treatment services and web design and development, according to ODHE.
Offering four-year degrees at community colleges has been something of a project for Sinclair president Steve Johnson, who posted a statement on Twitter saying he “personally worked toward this” for close to two decades.
“This is one of the most important innovations in education in Ohio in our history,” Johnson said when Sinclair received initial approval. “Mark this day.”
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