Whatcom Community College is working toward offering its first four-year degree program, which could start in fall 2017.
On May 7, the state Board for Community and Technical Colleges approved WCC for a Bachelor of Applied Science degree in IT networking.
Next, WCC needs accreditation approval form the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.
“Having an applied bachelor’s degree program is a significant achievement for the College and an excellent option for students who aspire to a career in IT,” said college President Kathi Hiyane-Brown, in a press release.
WCC already has a two-year IT networking program. The decision to pursue a four-year program came in response to regional and national demand for workers in the field, said Janice Walker, director of WCC’s Workforce Education program.
Graduates of WCC’s two-year program are getting jobs, but employers prefer four-year degrees, she said.
To make the decision, the college looked at data from industry organizations and the state Employment Security Department, which predicts a 15 to 20 percent increase in information security and related jobs between 2012 and 2022.
Between now and fall 2017, the college plans to develop upper-level courses on cloud computing, mobile and wireless technologies, enterprise linux, and other areas of IT networking. Along with the four-year degree, WCC will offer certificates in networking industrial control systems, networking cloud computing, and networking mobile technologies.
The school plans to hire two faculty members for the program, which Walker said will be difficult because most industry jobs pay more than WCC can.
Currently, the closest college with a similar program is Bellevue College, Walker said.
If the four-year IT networking program goes well, WCC may look into offering other four-year degrees, Walker said.
Oliver Lazenby, associate editor of The Bellingham Business Journal, can be reached at 360-647-8805, Ext. 5052, or firstname.lastname@example.org.