GCC plans bachelor’s degree in elementary education by fall 2023

Glendale, Ariz. – GCC has made its initial selection to offer a Bachelor of Arts degree, Education, Dual Certification in Elementary/Special Education. If approved, students could be enrolled for the degree by fall 2023.

The next step is for GCC’s leadership team to design and develop the necessary curriculum, structure and systems to accommodate the degree.

The college will submit its proposed curriculum to the MCCCD Governing Board in August 2022, who must approve it. If approved, the proposal will then be sent to the Higher Learning Commission, which is GCC’s accrediting organization. They will (or will not) approve the award and degree.

“A lot of work has to happen,” said Dr. Teresa Leyba Ruiz, GCC’s president. “Because this is a brand-new curriculum to write, many of our education faculty will be involved, as will the instructional council. Also, because it is Glendale, Paradise Valley, and Rio Salado offering the elementary education degree, that means all three of us have to be offering the exact same course, the exact same curriculum.”

Governor Ducey approved Senate Bill 1453 (SB 1453) May 4, allowing Arizona community colleges to offer four-year degrees.

In accordance with SB 1453, colleges were asked to be focused and specific with their initial selections. It was GCC’s college leadership team that decided on the elementary education degree.

The team based their decision on labor demand for elementary and special education teachers. Other influential factors included existing relationships with local school districts, affordable education for students, and GCC’s already established Teacher Education program.

“The degree will be cost effective for students; our goal is to help them achieve their career goal of becoming a teacher in four years, and enter the job market with a great deal of experience in a K-8 classroom,” said Heather Merrill, assistant department chair for GCC’s Teacher Education program.

Official enrollment dates for the bachelor’s degree will be determined after (and if) the program is approved by the MCCCD Governing Board and HLC.

Though nothing is in the pipeline now, GCC does plan to eventually offer future degrees.

“The law is very specific, percentage-wise, of how many degrees we would be able to offer. It would not be in our best interest to offer anything and everything; we would want to be very specific and very targeted. Right now, elementary education is the right choice for GCC because of the resources and the need in our community. The next step would be to look at and consider what could be the next step for GCC, but that’s a little ways off yet,” President Leyba Ruiz said.

For more information on MCCCD’s bachelor’s degree programs, as well as updates on the approval process, visit https://www.maricopa.edu/bachelors-degrees.