According to the Washington state Education Research and Data Center, Bellevue College students who graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in 2012 – 2013 have the highest median wage in the state of Washington.
One of the reasons Bellevue College has the highest median wage is because of its applied bachelors programs. Michael Reese, the associate director of the Center for Career Connections, elaborated on this reasoning, “All of the bachelor’s degrees that the college has rolled out here are really well aligned to the workforce and economic needs on the Eastside. So we provide skills that employers are looking for.”
Bellevue College offers seven bachelor degree programs, which is more than any former community college in the state. The seven degrees are data analytics, healthcare technology and management, information systems and technology, interior design, nursing and radiation and imaging sciences.
The two newest programs, molecular bioscience and applied accounting, have been approved but will be starting at a later date. Molecular bioscience will be starting in the fall quarter of 2016 and applied accounting will launch for the first time in the fall quarter of 2015.
“Every time a college rolls out a new degree or certificate program, the first thing that we have to ask before anything else is, ‘is there demand for this new certificate or degree’ and ‘will the students go out and be able to get jobs,’” explained Reese.
Currently, Bellevue College is only allowed to offer applied bachelor’s degrees, as opposed to more general degrees per state rules. In the degrees, BC consults industry professionals in order to find out what skills they are seeking for that specific occupation.
The man in charge of developing these programs is Chris Bell, the director of Applied Baccalaureate Development at Bellevue College. He explained the time and steps that go into developing an applied bachelors program.
“There is a five stage process that all colleges have to undertake in order to get a program approved,” explained Bell. “It can take almost 20 months from the inception through the research and then the written statements and justification to the state and then final approval.”
The degrees that Bell is currently working to develop are health promotion and management, and healthcare leadership and management.
Healthcare sciences as well as computer science are one of two degrees with the best return of investment after graduations.
“We also need to look at trends for jobs that are emerging. We have a bachelor degree in healthcare information technology and that was really a new discipline that brought together knowledge of healthcare and knowledge of computing and how people use computers,” explained BC Dean of Health Sciences and Wellness Institute Leslie Heizer Newquist.
To better equip students with the information they need, State Representative Chad Magendanz has begun to develop an earnings dashboard.
This dashboard is made to help students figure out which Washington public colleges and universities offer the most for what students spend on college and also which degree programs pay better after graduation.
“With over 53 percent of young adults graduating with a bachelor’s degree currently unemployed or working in a completely unrelated field from their major,” Magendanz explained, “I think kids could stand to think a bit more about how they’ll be paying off their student debt.”
Magendanz’s ultimate goal with the earnings dashboard is to show which programs increase wage potential the most, resulting in the most economic value to the state. “If future performance funding programs for higher education consider this metric, we’ll see a much bigger bank for the public dollar and quicker alignment to job market needs. This is how we close the skills gap,” said Magendanz.
The earnings dashboard is up now, and students should expect more features coming soon. The dashboard can be found at www.erdcdata.wa.gov/esmdashboard.aspx.