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Olympic College on track for four-year tech degree [Kitsap Sun, Bremerton, Wash. :: ]
[February 07, 2014]

Olympic College on track for four-year tech degree [Kitsap Sun, Bremerton, Wash. :: ]

(Kitsap Sun (Bremerton, WA) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Feb. 08--BREMERTON -- Olympic College is one step away from adding another bachelor's degree program.

The college received approval this week from state Board of Community and Technical Colleges to offer a bachelor's of applied science degree in information systems, a four-year technical program.

If the college gets accreditation from the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, OC could begin offering the program in the fall, said Norma B. Whitacre, the school's dean of business and technology.

"We have been working on this a long time," Whitacre said. "We are hoping to get that approved the next few weeks." The degree is designed to provide students with a broad base of knowledge about information technology work, including networking, web development, programing and security.

The college had earlier discussed offering a four-year degree more focused on technology security, but after talking with local business owners they learned employers were more interested in technical generalists. "They want people who have a really good depth and breadth of skills," Whitacre said.

One coveted skill is the ability to adapt and solve problems in an environment in which technology changes quickly, she said.

The college has the equivalent of 200 full-time students taking IT classes now. Associates programs offer general eduction and broad-based technical skills now, but allow students to also focus in on specialties.

If the program earns accreditation, it would be the second four-year degree OC offered on its own. The school handed out its first nursing bachelor's degrees in 2009.

Olympic has also relied on partnerships with other colleges to allow Kitsap-area students to get four-year degrees close to home. The school graduated its first set of Washington State University mechanical engineering students in 2012. In the fall it began offering four-year programs from Western Washington University and also has programs from Western Governors University, Old Dominion University and Brandman University.

Classes for the four-year information services program would begin in the fall semester with 20 students, with the first group of graduates in spring 2016. In fall 2015 OC would accept 25 more students into the program, followed by 30 every year beginning in the fall of 2016.

Whitacre said the process of getting the new four-year degree program established involved getting buy-in from the college's own Board of Trustees and staff and getting approval from the state board. The accreditation step is the final one, "the one last thing we have to do," she said.

___ (c)2014 the KitsapSun (Bremerton, Wash.) Visit the KitsapSun (Bremerton, Wash.) at Distributed by MCT Information Services

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