This experience report documents an intervention that started five years ago, in 2014. Green River College, a community college in a suburb of Seattle, Washington, launched a new applied baccalaureate program in Software Development, with a goal of preparing place-bound, underrepresented, and underserved students for employment as entry-level software developers.
At program inception, community college baccalaureate degrees were relatively new across the nation and there was little precedent established in terms of program design, particularly as these new degree programs were not intended to emulate traditional undergraduate Computer Science programs, but rather provide an alternative pathway to the baccalaureate and workforce.
The Bachelor of Applied Science (BAS) in Software Development is designed as a "2+2" program, where students enter the program at third-year/junior-level standing after completing their two-year applied associate degree. The BAS Software Development curriculum includes courses in both "computer science fundamentals" and industry-focused, project-based learning courses. Since program inception, the curriculum has evolved based on evidence and feedback from students, instructors, alumni, and industry partners.
Initial key results at the five-year mark include a review of enrollment, completion, diversity, and placement data. As of June 2019, the program has 132 graduates (degrees conferred), with 52 new students on track to enter the program in the 2019-2020 academic year. A recent snapshot of currently enrolled students indicates the median age is 24, 23% are women, 40% are students of color, 39% are first generation college students, and 40% are receiving need-based financial aid. Graduates of the program have placed into roles that include Software Development Engineers, Solutions Engineers, and Technical Program Managers.