PORTSMOUTH — Great Bay Community College and Granite State College celebrated the signing of a new agreement on Thursday evening that will offer students easier pathways to certain bachelor’s and master’s degree programs.
It is also the start of a co-location agreement between the two colleges.
Granite State operates under the University System of New Hampshire and Great Bay falls under the Community College System of New Hampshire. Both system chancellors were in attendance for the celebration.
It marks the second co-location agreement Granite State has signed with a community college. The first was in Nashua.
The one in Portsmouth will allow students to take up to 90 credits with Great Bay and then transfer for their last year into Granite State. But during that last year they will still take classes at the Great Bay campus thanks to the co-location agreement.
Right now, this is available for students pursuing a degree in nursing or a bachelor’s teaching certification. Granite State College also offers three master’s degree programs.
An analysis is currently underway to determine more program matches between the two colleges.
“Through our partnership, our goal is to develop more programs that will both empower students to build thriving careers and contribute to the areas of New Hampshire’s work force that can benefit from employees who have achieved a bachelor’s or master’s degree,” Kathi Mullin, chief administrative officer of Granite State College, said.
Lisa McCurley, director of the nursing program at Great Bay, said they were finding many students who said they planned to pursue their bachelor’s after graduating from Great Bay were not actually doing so.
She said being able to continue their degree program in the same environment is a benefit for her students, and a higher degree is really necessary in the high-demand field.
“We always encourage continuing education for our students graduating from the nursing program. We are familiar with the aspects of what an advanced career brings and what the career demands,” McCurley said.
Todd Leach, chancellor of the university system, said there is a lot of talk nationally about the cost of higher education and the need to increase the number of college graduates.
“The only way to do that is collaboration and cooperation,” Leach said.
“This is an example of a way to drive down the cost of education and create an affordable pathway that improves access, which is what higher education should be focused on.”
For now, Granite State will house an academic adviser on the second floor of Great Bay’s campus, and classes will be taught on the GBCC campus around the existing schedule.Will Arvelo, president of GBCC, said they are involved in many different initiatives involving collaboration with the community.
They are now working with the InterOperability Lab at the University of New Hampshire, an independent testing facility that employs 120 students annually, to find opportunities for Great Bay students to work there as well.
“This keeps our students here for a longer period of time and keeps the cost down for students” Arvelo said.
During the celebration, GSC presented a $30,000 check to GBCC for 15 student scholarships.
Granite State College has nine other campuses around New Hampshire, including another one on Pease International Tradeport, down the street from GBCC.