For the first time in the system’s history, Houston Community College will offer bachelor’s-level degree programs starting in the fall.

The new four-year programs are Applied Technology in Artificial Intelligence and Robotics, and Applied Science in Healthcare Management.

“We are continually exploring ways to provide relevant programs and instruction that serve the needs of students and employers in our service area,” HCC Chancellor Cesar Maldonado said. “With these two inaugural bachelor’s degree programs, we give students an opportunity to start and complete their four-year education on the same HCC campus.”

The college received state approval in December as a Level 2 baccalaureate-granting institution, allowing the college to grant bachelor’s-level degree programs. The approval came five years after Gov. Greg Abbott signed Senate Bill 2118 into law in 2017, which allowed the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to authorize public junior colleges to offer bachelor’s degrees in applied science, applied technology and nursing.

According to HCC Director of Communications Zen Zheng, HCC was the first college in Texas to offer an associate degree in artificial intelligence. Zheng said artificial intelligence has gained a foothold across industries, stating that the 2021 National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence recognized AI as “already ubiquitous in everyday life” and claimed that AI is “turning once-fantastical ideas into realities across a range of disciplines.”

“The new Bachelor of Applied Technology in Artificial Intelligence and Robotics will address a growing and critical need for skilled workers in a rapidly evolving technical field,” Zheng said in an April 12 news release.

He said graduates of the Artificial Intelligence program will enter a profession with 2,586 annual job openings in the Gulf Coast region and a starting median annual salary of $97,200.

Meanwhile, the Bachelor of Applied Science in Healthcare Management is intended to prepare students for career advancement or entry-level health care managerial positions.

HCC offers a few health science programs, such as respiratory therapy, radiography and sonography. A Healthcare Management graduate will have access to about 1,700 annual openings and a starting median annual salary of about $64,000, Zheng said.

Both degrees are offered to students who attend HCC as well as students from other community colleges or universities whose first two years meet the background requirements of the degrees.