BC Expands Bachelor’s Degree Offerings: Is It Distancing Itself from Its ‘Community College’ Status?

Bellevue College recently unveiled a string of new Bachelor of Applied Science degrees. The degrees are four-year programs that BC says are “cost-effective” and “high quality.” Some of these bachelor’s programs have existed for some time, like the BS in Computer Science Degree, which was launched in 2017 and has been described by former BC Interim President and Washington State Governor as “a tremendously successful pathway for our diverse communities to gain the skills and experience for this high-wage, high-demand field.” The computer science department at BC has been supported by a series of donations from Amazon totaling $1.5 million. Since then, the list has grown to 20 Bachelor’s Degrees offered by Bellevue College, the newest being Bachelor’s of Applied Science in Cybersecurity. With each new four-year program introduced, it seems as though Bellevue College is distancing itself further from its past as a community college. 

Though Bellevue College first began gradually dropping “community” from its name in 2009, its legacy as “BCC” is still visible to this day. It is still commonplace to hear the school referred to as a community college among those who attended before the name change. With the majority of students still pursuing two-year degrees (68.6% of enrolled students were pursuing an Associate in Arts & Sciences in 2021), it’s easy to wonder why the name change was necessary. Bellevue College is still a part of Washington State’s Community and Technical College system, but according to a quote from former BC president Jean Sarto Floten from the Bellevue Reporter, the name change was necessary because many people think of a community college as an institution only offering two-year degrees, and the name change may inspire more people to look into the four-year degrees offered.  

There is an important distinction to be made between the BAS (Bachelor of Applied Science) degrees and the BS (Bachelor of Science) degrees that BC offers. An informational webpage from North Seattle College, another school within Washington’s CTC system, says, “Bachelor of Applied Science (B.A.S.) degrees focus on providing hands-on experiences and incorporating job-related skills into the classroom, whereas B.A. or B.S. degrees may have a more theoretical focus.” Before committing to any degree, it is important to research what works best for your intended career path. As Bellevue College grows in acclaim, a degree may be more valuable. In its 2024 list, Newsweek ranked Bellevue College as the 13th-best online college in the country. Bellevue College was also recently nominated for the Aspen Prize for “having high and improving levels of student success as well as equitable outcomes for Black and Hispanic students and those from lower-income backgrounds.” If you are interested in looking into a four-year degree at Bellevue College, visit the Undergraduate Degrees and Certificates homepage.