Community colleges are often linked with workforce development, and while it’s true that the 30-plus associate degree programs at BMCC reflect growth industries such as computer information systems, allied health and the sciences, they also reflect the arts and humanities.
“Community college students deserve the full array of options that private college students avail themselves of,” says Dean for Academic Programs, Erwin Wong, referring to seven new majors at BMCC: Art History, Studio Art, Sociology, Modern Languages, Animation and Motion Graphics, History and Gerontology.
Expanding the mission of community colleges
“The primary mission of many community colleges is vocational education,” says Dean Wong, “but the trend these days nationally and certainly within CUNY is dual: workforce development and academic preparation for seamless transfer to a senior institution.”
In that sense, the new majors reflect a benefit BMCC offers as a community college within the larger CUNY system, he emphasizes.
Seven new degree programs
In Fall 2015, BMCC will launch a number of new Associate of Arts (A.A.) and Associate of Science (A.S.) degree programs.
These include a new A.A. in Sociology program (in the Social Science, Human Services and Criminal Justice department), which links to the B.A. in Sociology program at Brooklyn College, CUNY.
Other new options that semester include the A.S. in Studio Art and A.A. in Art History degree programs; both offered through the Music & Art department and linking to the B.A. in Art History program at Queens College, CUNY.
Students will also be able to enroll in the A.A. in History program, offered through the Social Science, Human Services and Criminal Justice department.
Another option is the A.S. in Gerontology program (offered through the Health Education department as well as the Human Services program housed in the Social Science, Human Services and Criminal Justice department) and which links to the B.S. in Gerontology at York College, CUNY.
Also that fall, students will be able to join the A.S. in Animation and Motion Graphics program (in the Media Arts & Technology department), which links to the Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.) program at Lehman College.
Then in Spring 2016, BMCC will launch a new A.A. in Modern Languages program with three concentrations: Spanish, French and Italian and linking to bachelor’s degree programs in French, Italian, Spanish, Romance Languages and Translation at Hunter College, CUNY.
A new model for student retention
“Part of the reason we are aggressively pursuing these new Liberal Arts degrees in art history, studio art, modern languages and sociology is to improve our student retention, persistence and degree completion,” says Dean Wong.
Liberal Arts majors, he explains, are more motivated to complete their degrees when they have more degree choices in the arts and humanities.
Also, the new degree programs “reflect what we learned through a U.S. Department of Education Title V grant that enabled us to examine the way we delivered academic advisement to Liberal Arts majors,” he says.
Each new degree program will provide what is referred to as "developmental advisement," assigning students to dedicated faculty and academic advisors who work with them from the time they select their major, to graduation.
The Title V study, he says, found that students advised in this way were more likely to persist through academic challenges and complete their degrees, than students who weren’t.
The value of a rigorous liberal arts education
Graduates of the new Modern Languages program, Wong says, “will stand out from their professional peers who are monolingual,” and be uniquely qualified to pursue careers in international affairs, business, education and translation in both the public and private sectors.
Likewise, he says, a degree in Sociology prepares graduates for careers in fields as diverse as urban planning, marketing, community organizing and human resources, while graduates of the Art History and Studio Art programs will be prepared for careers in the fine and applied arts, and benefit from the 50,000 arts-related businesses in New York State, providing over 300,000 jobs.
In addition, says Wong, the new programs are inherently interdisciplinary, “and prepare students for an increasingly global workplace. Employees expect their workforce to understand social issues as well as the bottom line. They recognize the value of a rigorous liberal arts education.”