Partnership with university lays path to degree

Nursing program helps students obtain their bachelor’s degree

By Efrain Valdez, Social Media Editor

A concurrent enrollment partnership with the University of Phoenix, will let Contra Costa College nursing students earn a bachelor’s degree without transferring to a four-year university.

The program benefits students who historically would have been saddled with years of debt after pursuing a career in nursing.

Now will be able to save  thousands of dollars in class fees and other expenses.

“The Institute of Medicine recommended a few years back that nurses should have a bachelor’s degree when entering the nursing job field,” nursing professor Jacqueline Wright said.

“We started the program because of that recommendation and because of the limited space within our partnership program with Cal State-East Bay,” Wright said.

For full-time nursing students the responsibilities and expenses assigned to a program can be staggering to first year students.

According to, the average tuition for first year nursing students can range between $864 to $1,019 per semester.

Wright said students apply to the CCC nursing program and then are picked through a lottery system. The students that are not admitted to the program are then wait-listed.

University of Phoenix Nursing Director  Amy Martz said, “One of the benefits of having this program is that students can take all of their classes on campus (CCC) and it gives the students time to work too.”

Martz said that programs like the one with CCC have already been in place at colleges like Fresno City College, Bakersfield College and American River College.

“This program has been around since 2014. That was when the Governing Board of Trustees approved it. I would say we started planning about nine to ten months before that,” Wright said.

“Concurrent enrollment classes, especially ones like this, are tough on students, but they are smart people,” Martz said.

She said the students receive access to an online library, free tutoring and get experience in learning and working as a team.

“It’s a convenient program,” nursing student Bridget Barnam said. “It’s convenient that I only have to come here (CCC) once a week and that it is way cheaper than Cal State-East Bay or a private school,” she said.

Barnam said that the nursing program tries to make it as convenient as possible for the students.

“Students take a University of Phoenix classes in fall, then a four-week course over winter break, then another one in spring and a six-week course in the summer, all here at Contra Costa College,” Wright said.

“We all know how traffic can be in the Bay Area, and offering a program like this in the local area is fantastic for students that have to work, or have kids,” Wright said.

“We do have to write a lot of essays and read a good amount. Since the books are online it goes at your pace which is nice,” Barnam said.

Wright said that some of the downsides are that the workload can be very condensed in the winter and summer sessions.

Barnam said another of the downsides to the program is that if students want to continue after they receive their bachelor’s, they can’t use the credits they earned at any other school to get a master’s degree other than the University of Phoenix.

“This is a great way to get a degree in a faster and more economical way than the traditional four-year university,” Wright said.

“This kind of program is the future of education because jobs require degrees and this helps get students in the job market faster,” she said.

The American Association of College Nurses website ( reminds nursing students that jobs will be available.

The U.S. is still facing a shortage of nurses as baby boomers get older and the need for healthcare professionals increases.