Galveston College, for the first time in its 51-year history, will offer a bachelor’s degree, Bachelor of Applied Science in Healthcare Management, starting in the fall 2019 semester.

Launching the degree program marks the end of a long process of reclassification and approval that began in 2017 when Senate Bill 2118 passed at the state Legislature and was signed by Gov. Greg Abbott.

“Based on that legislation, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board adopted new rules that allowed certain community colleges to offer baccalaureate degree programs, and we had to submit an application for approval,” President Myles Shelton said.

Once the college received approval from the state, it had to receive approval from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to advance from a Level I associate-degree granting college to a Level II bachelor’s degree-granting institution. That approval was granted Tuesday.

“That level change is typically a big deal for an institution,” Shelton said. “I know there will be more community colleges over time that will do this, but as the first one in our service area and one of just two in the greater Houston area, to be approved to do this is really a big deal.

“We feel very fortunate that they saw the merits of what we have to offer here at Galveston College.”

A bachelor’s degree in healthcare management can lead to jobs in middle management positions in hospitals, clinics and other health care entities, said Cissy Matthews, vice-president of instruction at Galveston College.

“There is a large demand for people with this degree,” she said.

Texas can expect a 32-percent increase in management job openings by 2024, according to the Texas Workforce Commission. Closer to home, in the Gulf Coast region, that translates to 275 job openings a year either because managers are retiring or because of growth in population and growth within the industry.

Most of Matthews’ office’s efforts have been in curriculum and program development, deciding which classes need to be offered and how they will be executed, she said. The college already has a large faculty in allied health care, most of whom have worked in health care settings and know the demands of healthcare management.

Beyond the addition of a first bachelor’s degree program in healthcare management, the college also is planning a bachelor’s degree program in nursing for students who already have completed an associate nursing degree program.

The new degree program in healthcare management is aimed at students who already have earned an associate of applied science degree. They will be entering the program basically at the junior level, Shelton said.

The nursing bachelor’s degree program is expected to be in place either in the fall of 2020 or 2021. A third bachelor’s degree program will be developed as well, but has not yet been identified.

“We see this as an extension of what we’re already doing, training students in technical skills and awarding associate’s degrees,” Shelton said. “We see the baccalaureate degrees as extensions of that technical training.”

Kathryn Eastburn: 409-683-5257; kathryn.eastburn@galvnews.com.

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