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Nursing students, from left, Caroline Pantaleon, Yang Liu, Melody Saechao and Christine Crivello practice inserting an IV in Saul Jones’ nursing
Nursing students, from left, Caroline Pantaleon, Yang Liu, Melody Saechao and Christine Crivello practice inserting an IV in Saul Jones’ nursing skills lab class at Contra Costa College in San Pablo, Calif. The college could begin offering bachelor’s degrees in nursing. (Kristopher Skinner/Bay Area News Group) ( Kristopher Skinner )

As early as next year, some California community colleges will start offering four-year degrees if the governor signs a bill that cleared the state Legislature Thursday.

Colleges will be allowed to offer one bachelor’s degree program per campus, if the degree isn’t available at a nearby state university, reports the San Jose Mercury News.

Proponents of SB 850 — introduced by state Sen. Marty Block, D-San Diego — argued that bachelor’s degrees in technical fields are in great demand and noted that 21 other states allow their community colleges to offer such programs.

“In today’s economy, many businesses require their employees to possess a four-year degree or higher skill sets than are offered through associate degree programs, even in fields such as dental hygiene or automotive technology where a two-year degree would have been sufficient in the past,” Community Colleges Chancellor Brice Harris said in a news release. “I applaud the Legislature for addressing California’s urgent workforce needs.”

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Joanne Jacobs, formerly of the San Jose (Calif.) Mercury News, is a freelance journalist who blogs at joannejacobs.com.

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