For the first time in its history, Grays Harbor College will offer a four-year degree.
The college has received approval from the Northwest Commission of Colleges and Universities to offer a bachelor of applied science in the field of organizational management.
The college plans to offer the degree starting in the fall of 2016. Assistant Dean for Baccalaureate Programs Jeb Thornton expects that, at least initially, it will be offered every other year.
“This new bachelor degree program provides a pathway for students with associate in applied sciences (AAS) degrees in human services, criminal justice, business management and other majors to further their education and assume leadership roles in both non-profit and profit-based organizations,” Thornton said.
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Grays Harbor College was granted accreditation to make the degree a reality last week. The process involves making sure schools have the “academic strength” to bring a degree to fruition, according to Thornton.
The next step will be for the college to receive approval for federal financial aid, then an application process will be created.
Thornton said the college surveyed local employers, asking what skills and knowledge they needed employees to have, and Grays Harbor College designed a program and curriculum around those skills.
Thornton said the degree program will teach students to communicate effectively, think critically, lead others, come up with new solutions to local problems and understand people, organizations and their challenges. The degree will include classes on writing and managing grants, organizational communication, accounting, legal and labor issues for supervision and management, ethics and management.
“The college was looking at a way to support economic development and wanted to give the Harbor the opportunity to grow,” Thornton said. “So often people leave to go to college and don’t come back, but this is an opportunity to get that higher learning and keep it here in the community to help the community grow and develop.”
Thornton said he expects the program to meet in the evenings or on weekends to suit working adults and expects it to enroll 24 to 28 students.
The college also is awaiting approval of a four-year degree in forestry management, which is being developed in partnership with Green River College. Another four-year degree in teacher education is in the early development stage.