Starting in Fall 2016, Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC/CUNY) will offer two new majors; Psychology, and Science for Health Professionals, raising its number of associate degree programs to 43.
The development of the Psychology program, says Erwin Wong, BMCC’s Dean of Academic Programs and Instruction, reflects a strategy for retention that has thrived at the college, while the Science for Health Professionals program affirms BMCC’s commitment to prepare students for 21st-century careers.
The impact of new majors on student retention and success
Dean Wong refers back to the high-retention rates of students in the BMCC Learning Academy, which places them in cohorts led by faculty with whom they shared a subject-area interest — subject areas not reflected, at that time, with a degree program at the college.
Those students showed much higher persistence and success than their Liberal Arts peers. As a result, Wong says, “The college has made it a priority to create niche Liberal Arts degree programs that allow students to engage with faculty on a consistent basis in their areas of interest.”
The result has been four new majors announced in Spring 2015, as well as the recently announced Psychology degree program.
Building student success and retention from another angle, the new Science for Health Professions associate degree program “addresses the college’s strategic priority to prepare students for 21st-century careers and contribute to workforce development in New York City,” says Wong.
Over the next decade, “with the ‘greying’ of our population, studies show that there will be a growing need for health professionals such as dieticians, nutritionists and others,” he says, “and our Science for Health Professions program will provide students with the academic foundation to pursue baccalaureate degrees in those areas.”
Not only that, the new Science for Health professions degree program will retain students not currently served by the BMCC Science or Allied Health courses of study.
Psychology program links to bachelor’s degree at John Jay College
BMCC’s new Associate in Arts (A.A.) degree in Psychology will be offered through the college’s Social Sciences, Human Services and Criminal Justice Department. Graduates will be eligible for seamless transfer to the Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Forensic Psychology program at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, CUNY.
As graduates from John Jay or another four-year program, they will be prepared for careers or graduate work in psychology, social work, law enforcement and other criminal justice professions.
“Our students have expressed a strong interest in psychology, and now as psychology majors, they will be able to develop collegial relationships with peers and faculty who share that interest,” says Janice Walters, a Professor of Psychology within the Social Sciences, Human Sciences and Criminal Justice department, and Chair of the Teacher Education department.
Walters, who wrote the proposal for the new psychology degree program, adds that BMCC’s psychology faculty have a broad spectrum of interests within the field, and “students will have the opportunity to develop research projects with these professors. In addition, psychology is part of STEM, so that opens up opportunities for students in terms of funded research at the associate degree level and beyond. Graduates of the psychology program will be well prepared to continue the study of psychology at a senior college.”
Providing an option for students seeking careers in health professions
BMCC’s new Associate in Science (A.S.) degree in Science for Health Professions is offered through the Science department. Students will complete courses in general, organic and biological chemistry as well as general physics and other areas such as microbiology, nutrition and pathophysiology.
“It’s the kind of science-based program that students need for many health professions,” says BMCC Science Professor Charles Kosky, who wrote the Science for Health Professions program proposal. “We articulated the program so that it would fit into nutrition and also exercise science bachelor’s degree programs. Graduates of the program will also be able to transfer into accelerated bachelor’s degree nursing programs.”
In other words, he says, the Science for Health Professions program will be an option for BMCC students who are not currently served by the college’s Science or Allied Health courses of study.
"The Science for Health Profession courses reflect a different track in biology, chemistry and physics than courses in the Science major," says Kosky. “We’re very excited about the doors it opens for many of our students.”