Community College Baccalaureate Programs, Part II

Administration September 2023 PREMIUM
Community College Baccalaureate programs (CCBPs) are essential for addressing teacher shortages and diversifying the teaching workforce. These programs provide accessible pathways to teacher certification, which benefits a wide range of students, including first generation and immigrants. Currently, education-related CCBPs are concentrated in a few states, with a need for expansion in other regions to meet the demand for qualified educators.

In our July issue, Hispanic Outlook initiated this series by exploring community college baccalaureate programs (CCBPs), which have grown as a result of national employment trends, shortages of workers in key areas, and changing demographics. These factors have created a demand for more affordable, flexible career pathways that attract and support diverse and non-traditional students who can effectively meet the needs of local communities and industries.

In order to conduct an in-depth analysis of these programs – including a specific focus on Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs) - Hispanic Outlook has drawn upon the Community College Baccalaureate Association’s (CCBA) database, which keeps track of the precise numbers and types of CCBPs in each state, providing an extremely valuable resource.

The series began by examining health-related CCBPs; in this issue, dedicated to the beginning of a new academic year and the “back to school” theme, we explore the growing number of education-related CCBPs. As with health, the professional field of education has suffered severe setbacks as a result of the Covid19 pandemic, but these have only exacerbated existing gaps that have been growing for several decades. According to the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE), the number of undergraduate degrees in education awarded annually has decreased since peaking in the 1970s, due to a variety of factors which include declining pay for teachers, more demanding working conditions, and women entering many other bachelor’s degree programs. The Center for American Progress reports that total enrolment in teacher-preparation programs across the nation has declined by one-third since 2010.

Over the last few years, the pandemic added to these woes and has created severe teacher shortages. States have tried to fill these shortages in a variety of ways, ranging from letting retired teachers return to work while keeping their retirement benefits (in Michigan), to hiring foreign teachers (in some Wisconsin districts, for example), to teacher licensure reforms that empower local school districts to make more hiring decisions (in Arizona).

Advocates of community-college baccalaureate programs have pointed out that these are patchwork, ad hoc measures. The real solution to teacher shortages lies in plain sight: passing legislation in more states and generally facilitating the establishment of education-related programs at community colleges which can provide an accessible, streamlined pathway to teacher certification. Community colleges are ideally placed to establish agreements with local school districts for internships and practical training, given that they already prepare students for associate degrees and certificates in different areas of education, and often have transfer agreements with education degree programs at 4-year institutions. Indeed, according to AACTE, 38% of students that enter teacher education programs at 4-year institutions began their journey at community colleges.

In addition, community colleges are accessible to a much broader range of students, due to their open admissions policies and lower costs, which greatly contributes to the diversification of the teaching workforce – one of the key aims of school districts around the country that would like to hire educators that can relate more closely to their increasingly diverse student body. Currently, although 55% of all K-12 students in public schools are non-White, only 28% of graduates from colleges of education are, according to figures cited by AACTE.

Community college students are often first-generation learners, from immigrant families, and speakers of other languages, which makes them ideal candidates for teaching positions in schools that increasingly serve these populations.  Whatever their background, teachers tend to look for jobs within 15 miles of their home communities; in the words of a Center for American Progress report, “teacher labor markets are hyperlocal”.  Community colleges fit the bill in this sense as well, since they cater to students who want or need to remain rooted to their home due to family obligations or financial constraints. Having roots in the local community is, in turn, a benefit that can create stronger bonds between teachers, parents and students.

National Overview of Education-Related Community College Baccalaureate Programs

According to the CCBA database, there are currently 617 CCBPs across 24 states. Of these, our analysis indicates that 85 are education-related, defined as all programs with an overall Carnegie Classification of “education” (CIP codes beginning with 13). Thus, education programs constitute 14% of all CCBPs.

Education-related baccalaureate programs are present in 12 states (half of all states with CCBPs), but the majority (72%) are found in just two states – Florida and Washington. Indeed, more than half (56%) of all education-related CCBPs are found in Florida alone (48 programs), while seven states have fewer than 4 programs.

It is not surprising that Florida and Washington have the largest number of education-related CCBPs, as states with the largest numbers of CCBPs overall, and that have been among the earliest to authorize them (Florida in 2001 and Washington in 2005). Florida has a relatively higher number of education programs given that these were part of the state’s initial interest in establishing CCBPs and have been supported since 2001, while all of Washington’s education-related CCBPs finished receiving their authorizations from the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges in 2016.

Nonetheless, education-related programs are growing in other states as well. They now constitute more than a quarter of all CCBPs in three states – Indiana, Arizona and Florida; in New Mexico and Wyoming, nearly 20% of all CCBPs are education-related.

Education-related Community College Baccalaureate Programs at Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs)

The CCBA reports that more than one-third of the total of 157 baccalaureate-conferring community colleges are HSIs. This proportion is slightly higher among the 47 community colleges that have education-related baccalaureate programs – according to Hispanic Outlook’s analysis, 19 of these are HSIs (40%). These HSIs are found in 8 of the 12 states that have education-related programs; eight have more than 40% Hispanic/Latino enrolment overall, which might indicate a high proportion of Hispanic/Latino students in education-related baccalaureate programs. However, this remains to be verified through specific analysis of each program.

Types of Education-related Community College Baccalaureate Programs

In order to analyse the types of education-related CCBPs available, programs were grouped according to overall area of study, which roughly correlate with specific CIP codes (such as “early childhood education” or “teacher education”, for example) within the overall category of “Education” (CIP code 13). These programs mostly confer Bachelor of Science (BS) and Bachelor of Applied Science (BAS) degrees, although they also confer a few Bachelor of Arts (BA) degrees.

Our analysis of CCBA data reveals that two-thirds (66%) of education-related programs prepare students for careers in each of the specific levels of K-12 education; these are evenly distributed among Early Childhood Education, Elementary Education, and Middle Grades and Secondary Education (with 19 programs each). This count includes programs at each level that deal with specific issues and subjects, such as “Elementary and Special Education”, and “Secondary Biology Education”, for example.

The remaining third includes programs that go beyond a specific level of schooling – those that deal with education and the practice of teaching overall (3 Education programs and 7 Teaching/Teacher Education programs), with specific student needs across all levels (8 Exceptional Student Education K-12 programs and 1 Special Education – Mild Intervention K-12 program), and with specific subject areas across K-12 (2 Science Education programs, 2 Maths Education programs, and 1 English Education program). A small proportion pertains to Career and Technical Education (4 programs).

If these programs are categorized differently – by specific student needs and subject areas, rather than by level of schooling, then the total number of programs that include special education increases to 15 (8 Exceptional Student Education K-12 programs, 1 Special Education – Mild Intervention K-12 program,  1 Early Childhood and Special Education program, and 5 Elementary and Special Education programs), representing 18% of all education-related CCBPs.

This is an important trend, given that the shortage of teachers is especially acute in the area of special education and has declined by 4% over the last decade, according to the AACTE.

With regard to subject areas, 10 of these CCBPs are in Mathematics (2 general Maths Education programs, 3 Middle School Maths programs, and 5 Secondary Maths programs) and 10 are in Science-related fields (2 general Science Education programs, 1 Middle School Science program, 3 Secondary Biology programs, 1 Secondary Chemistry program, 1 Secondary Physics program, and 2 Secondary Science programs). This would seem to indicate that community colleges are focusing on key areas that have also been reported as facing shortages; in fact, AACTE reports a 27% decrease in math and science education graduates over the past decade.

It is notable that although there are also shortages in the areas of dual language education and English-Language Learning, only two of these CCBPs specialize in these areas: one general English Education program, and one Early Childhood Education Dual Language program. Nonetheless, as reported by the Seattle Times, several Washington state programs offer Bilingual and ELL endorsements to their education-related degrees, which has helped to solve shortages in local school districts and supports the growing Latino population. Further analysis of each community college program  - particularly those in HSIs - is needed to establish the proportion of all programs that offer these options and thus expand the pool of educators who can fill these needs. •


American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE), Colleges of Education: A National Portrait, 2022, Executive Summary and Infographic at:

Community College Baccalaureate Association (CCBA), National Program Inventory, at:

Community College Baccalaureate Association (CCBA), Infographic, at:

Elizabeth Meza and Ivy Love, Community College Baccalaureate Programs as an Equity Strategy: Student Access and Outcomes Data, March 3, 2022, New America, at:

Florida Department of Education, Division of Florida Colleges, Baccalaureate Accountability Report, 2021, at:

Hans Andrews and William Marzano, “Leverage Community Colleges to Address the Teacher Shortage”, American Enterprise Institute, June 27, 2022, at:

Janelle Retka, “How WA Community Colleges are Helping Solve the State’s Teacher Shortage”, The Seattle Times, October 6, 2022, at:

Lisette Partelow, Report: What To Make of Declining Enrollment in Teacher Preparation Programs, Center for American Progress, December 3, 2019, at:

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