UPDATE: Abbott signs bill allowing community colleges to offer 4-year nursing, early childhood education degrees

Austin Community College is one of the Texas community college districts seeking to offer a four-year nursing degree.

Austin Community College is one of the Texas community college districts seeking to offer a four-year nursing degree.

Updated June 14, 12:51 p.m.: Gov. Greg Abbott on Monday signed Senate Bill 2118, which allows community colleges to offer bachelor's degrees in nursing and applied science and technology.

The law goes into effect immediately.

Posted May 30: A bill that would allow Texas community colleges to offer students four-year degrees in certain areas of study is now on the desk of Gov. Greg Abbott.

Senate Bill 2118, proposed by Sen. Kel Seliger, R-Amarillo, would allow community colleges to offer bachelor's degrees in nursing and applied science and technology, including an applied science program with an emphasis on early childhood education.

Austin Community College has been pursuing the four-year nursing degree for several years, and ACC President and CEO Richard Rhodes said in a statement he was thankful for the support from the Legislature.

"As the bill heads to the governor's desk, ACC remains committed to building affordable and accessible pathways that will answer the state's nursing crisis and provide students new learning opportunities," he said.

Community colleges would be limited to offering three bachelor's degree programs at any time, with the exception of the three community colleges which were previously granted authority to offer the four-year degrees—Midland College, Brazosport College and South Texas College. Those schools can offer as many as five four-year programs.

Here's what community colleges must now do before they can begin offering the four-year programs:

  • Receive accreditation from the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools

  • For nursing degrees, provide evidence to the coordinating board and the Texas Board of Nursing that the school has secured adequate long-term clinical space;

  • Prove to the coordinating board that the program will fulfill a workforce need and that it cannot meet that need with the college's current available programs

  • Show that the program is comparable in quality and rigor to those offered at four-year universities

  • Show that based on job placement rates and licensing exam scores, the program being offered has been successful in the past

  • Demonstrate that the school can maintain or exceed the student enrollment numbers for the program

In addition, community colleges will have to conduct a review and write a report to the coordinating board every two years assessing the programs.

Since the bill was passed with a two-thirds vote in both the house and the senate, it can take effect immediately after Abbott signs it.

In a news conference Tuesday, the coordinating board's commissioner, Raymund Paredes, said he was pleased with the approval of the bill.

"We think [the bill] might encourage poor students to think about achieving [bachelor's] degrees," he said.

Paredes said he thinks it will take several years before community colleges begin offering the four-year programs, mostly because of the high standards that need to be met and the costs associated with hiring faculty as well as providing the appropriate facilities for study.

"We don't expect that there will be a stampede among community colleges to offer these degrees," he said. "It's significant that community colleges want to stick to their core mission of certificates and associate degrees."


Pease Elementary School students walk out of class Nov. 18 ahead of an Austin ISD vote to close four elementary schools, including Pease. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin ISD trustees vote to close four elementary schools in School Changes plan

Austin ISD trustees on Nov. 18 to close three East Austin and one downtown campus for the 2020-21 school year in the process.

Pease Elementary students, parents and teachers walked from their school on Nov. 18 to Austin City Hall to attend a press conference urging Austin ISD trustees to postpone a vote to close four public schools. Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper
Local community, political leaders urge Austin ISD board of trustees to slow down school closure process, delay vote

Austin ISD's board of trustees is scheduled to vote on a plan to close four elementary schools the evening of Nov. 18. Community advocates and political leaders want the board to slow the process down.

The Atlas 14 rainfall study found Austin to be at a much higher flood risk than previously understood.
Acknowledging expanded risk, Austin moves to prohibit additional density in city’s flood-prone areas

A recent federal flood risk study found Austin's flood risk to be significantly higher than previously understood.

The Dove Springs Recreation Center could be named after current Travis County Constable George Morales III. (Nicholas Cicale/Community Impact Newspaper)
Dove Springs Recreation Center could be renamed after Constable George Morales

The Dove Springs Recreation Center could be renamed after Constable George Morales, although some residents oppose changing the park's name at all.

The city of Austin authorized the purchase of a Rodeway Inn at 2711 S. I-35 on Nov. 14. The city plans to convert the property into a homeless shelter. (Olivia Aldridge/Community Impact Newspaper)
City Council green lights $8 million Rodeway Inn plan for homeless shelter transition, vows to address crime in the area

South Austin neighbors raised concerns that criminal activity in the area will put homeless individuals who enter the shelter at risk.

New Brightway insurance office opens in South Austin

Brightway, The Trusted Agency opened a new office in late October.

Marucci Clubhouse baseball facility opens in Southwest Austin

Marucci Clubhouse opened its new Southwest Austin location in October.

Lady Bird Lake at Congress Avenue in Austin. Since late July, parts of the lake have been off limits due to high concentrations of toxic "blue-green" algae. (Courtesy Miguel Gutierrez Jr./The Texas Tribune)
Toxic algae blooms are becoming more common, scientists say

Months have passed, but the capital city still has signs up warning of ongoing dangerous conditions in Lady Bird Lake.

Community members examine updated zoning maps at land development code town hall in October.
Land development code rewrite heads to City Council for final approval, marking home stretch of nearly 7-year process

Austin's long-awaited land development code rewrite is heading to City Council for final approval.

Crews work on updating a section of I-35 in Central Texas (Courtesy TxDOT)
Central Texas transportation agencies investing millions in I-35 for new lanes, intersection improvements aimed at aiding mobility

About 20 miles of I-35 through Central Texas will see an infusion of $400 million in state and federal funding to add one to two additional lanes in an effort to improve mobility.

Sage Blossom Massage's new Oak Hill location features a salt room. Courtesy Sage Blossom Massage
Sage Blossom Massage now open in Oak Hill

Sage Blossom Massage's new Oak Hill location at 6705 W. Hwy. 290, Austin, opened in early October. Sage …

A photo of the Dripping Springs City Council.
Dripping Springs City Council opts for partial refund to Mark Black in wedding venue fee dispute

Dripping Springs City Council voted Nov. 12 to refund $2,121 of Mark Black's $12,800 request.

Back to top