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House of Representatives
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: February 19, 2019 03:58 PM
From: Representative Thomas P. Murt
To: All House members
Subject: Authority for Community Colleges to Offer Baccalaureate Degrees (prior HB 807)
I am preparing to re-introduce legislation that will afford community colleges in this Commonwealth the authority to offer baccalaureate degrees.

Currently, a community college may offer no higher a degree than an associate degree under the Public School Code of 1949 (School Code). As a result, a student seeking a baccalaureate degree must enroll in a college or university that may have cost-prohibitive tuition rates or may be located far from the student’s home, forcing the student to pay for costly room and board or interfering with the student’s family responsibilities. Such barriers may block many qualified students from achieving their educational goals.

My proposal will amend the School Code to grant Pennsylvania community colleges the authority to offer baccalaureate degrees under certain conditions pursuant to standards to be established by the State Board of Education (State Board). Under my bill, a community college board of trustees that wishes to offer baccalaureate degrees would amend its community college plan to include such a proposal, subject to State Board approval. The State Board would be authorized to approve the community college’s request to offer baccalaureate degree programs where both of the following apply:
  • The community college:
    • is located in a rural geographic area of the Commonwealth;
    • is located in a geographic area that is underserved by other colleges or universities offering baccalaureate degrees; or
    • seeks to offer a baccalaureate degree program that is not offered by any other college or university serving the geographic area in which the community college is located; and
    • the board of trustees of the community college has demonstrated that each local sponsor of the community college has approved the request by resolution adopted by a majority vote at a public meeting of the local sponsor.
By allowing community colleges to offer baccalaureate degrees under certain conditions, my legislation will expand affordable education opportunities for Pennsylvania students and give more students access to the increased earning power that accompanies a four-year degree. At the same time, my bill will guard against unfair competition between community colleges and traditional four-year colleges and universities.


Introduced as HB838