Mountain college seeks more degrees

Colorado Mountain College is seeking final approvals to offer three more four-year degrees.

The college, based in Glenwood Springs, wants to offer a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing, a Bachelor of Applied Science and a Bachelor of Arts in interdisciplinary science. The initial focus of the latter is elementary education.

More than three years ago, then-Gov. Bill Ritter signed into law a bill letting the traditionally two-year college offer up to five bachelor’s degrees. The college had said research showed an unmet demand from employers and students in north-central Colorado.

At the time there was no physical location where local residents could earn a bachelor’s degree within the college’s service area, which is the size of Maryland, said Brad Tyndall, the college’s vice president of academic affairs.

Recently, Colorado Mesa University’s trustees approved creation of two completely online nursing degrees.

Colorado Mountain College began its foray into four-year education by offering degrees in business administration and sustainability studies. The first students to receive bachelor’s degrees graduated this spring.

The three additional degrees are being considered for approval by its accrediting body, the Higher Learning Commission, in what the college said is the last in a series of approvals required for the three additional bachelor’s degrees.

They also required internal approvals and assent from the Colorado Department of Higher Education. The interdisciplinary studies degree also was subject to Colorado Department of Education review.

That degree program would be offered at Glenwood Springs and Edwards. The college anticipates being able to offer junior-level interdisciplinary studies courses in 2015.

Colorado Mesa now offers an associate’s degree in elementary education, which means students have to transfer to one of several partner schools to get a four-year degree.

Employment projections indicate there will be a need for more elementary-school-level teachers to serve a growing population, especially in Garfield and Eagle counties. Local school districts indicated an interest in hiring teachers with local ties, significant classroom experience and the preparation to serve diverse children, including ones with limited English-language skills.

Colorado Mountain College is proposing that students be required to complete more than 1,200 field hours.


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