By creating a limited number of (or some specific) four-year baccalaureate degrees, Chattanooga State is responding to industry needs. A number of employers have requested that Chattanooga State develop these workforce-specific degrees so they can find qualified employees within the community and avoid recruiting out-of-state and out-of-region. As Governor Haslam says: “We want Tennesseans to get Tennessee jobs. We have to provide more educational and training opportunities for traditional and adult students.”1
There are limited “next steps” for Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S) graduates in Tennessee, yet a growing number of employment opportunities now require a bachelor’s degree. Technical Degree Graduates without a four-year degree often reach a “glass ceiling”. The baccalaureate degree is a requirement for many good quality and higher paying jobs. Chattanooga State can provide students an opportunity to pursue their applied technical baccalaureate degree at a place that is convenient, accessible and affordable.
Currently, A.A.S. graduates who transfer to a Tennessee University find that many of their credits will not transfer, and face an additional three years (or ninety hours) of college to complete their four-year degree. The Chattanooga State B.A.S. program will fill an important gap while allowing students to complete their Baccalaureate degree with sixty or fewer additional hours of study.
Chattanooga State already has high quality instructors and laboratories in the disciplines with a growing need for qualified graduates of trained technicians. The school is uniquely equipped to offer these programs with very little additional expense to the state. By utilizing existing resources and, at the same time, expanding educational opportunity, Chattanooga State is leveraging limited financial resources.
By offering four-year degrees, Chattanooga State will satisfy three key stakeholder groups in Tennessee. First, students want and need these degrees to advance in their technical careers. Second, employers want to employ locally rather than recruit nationally for these technical positions. Third, the taxpayers of Tennessee want to see their tax dollars leveraged as far as possible.
Oscar Brock is the Community Development Officer at Chattanooga State Community College. He’s a native Chattanoogan with a degree in Economics from Stanford University and an M.B.A. from Vanderbilt University. He has a lifelong passion for education and for creating opportunities for all Tennesseans. You can reach him at Oscar.Brock@ChattanoogaState.edu.