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Health Sciences Program Goes Virtual at CSU Channel Islands

CSUCI's third online bachelor's degree program comes at a moment when health-care workers are in demand, and students are increasingly calling for flexible, remote or hybrid learning options.

With educators growing comfortable with remote-learning technology, and students increasingly expecting the flexibility that comes with it, California State University at Channel Islands (CSUCI) will soon offer one of its most in-demand bachelor's degree programs online.

According to a recent news release, the CSU Commission on Professional and Continuing Education awarded CSUCI a $50,000 grant to help launch an online health science degree program in August 2024. It said the new program aims to address a decadeslong health-care worker shortage, made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic, by giving adult, working and otherwise busy students a more flexible option to build skills and enter the field.

“This completion degree program is unique in that it is designed with the working adult in mind, a busy individual juggling the demanding realities of work and care for family," Sonsoles de Lacalle, chair of CSUCI’s health science program, said in a public statement. "For this reason, the program will combine rigorous academics and a simplified schedule that allows for a sustainable pace."

The news release said the program’s curriculum will be the same as the bachelor's degree in health science already offered by CSUCI, covering bioethics and health education, promotion, management, policymaking and organizations. The program will train students for various health-care positions, as well as teach them how to apply for licensing and postgraduate clinical degrees in physical therapy or accelerated nursing programs. CSUCI will also serve military families stationed at Naval Base Ventura County, regardless of deployment transfers.

According to a recent report from CSUCI cited in the news release, the national health-care worker shortage has hit California particularly hard, as the state's proportion of health-care jobs that require a bachelor's degree in health sciences is 34 percent higher than the national average.

Health sciences will be the third degree program offered at CSUCI, but it joins a constellation of others established by U.S. universities since the pandemic forced schools to adopt more online and hybrid courses. In 2021, universities across Michigan and Minnesota announced the addition of online learning options to meet student expectations. In 2022, the University of Northern Iowa started offering online bachelor's programs to anyone with an associate's degree. Earlier this year, Illinois Tech and Hilbert College announced a slew of new online offerings, and Purdue University trustees endorsed an “Online Learning 2.0” vision statement stressing the need to provide nontraditional students more flexibility.