Cecil College has launched a new partnership with five other Maryland community colleges to share resources and classes to enable students to earn highly specialized degrees.
Called the Maryland Education Alliance, the partnership consists of colleges serving nine counties: Anne Arundel Community College, Cecil College, Chesapeake College, College of Southern Maryland, Harford Community College, and Prince George’s Community College.
Through the program, students can complete initial general education coursework at their home institution before transferring to a different community college for coursework in their desired specialized field. Their degree, however, comes from their home college.
Most shared courses will be in the STEM fields, specifically engineering and science, along with business.
The partnership is especially good for students studying in more niche programs that are high cost and low enrollment, which are difficult for most colleges to run.
Richard Haubert, a spokesman for Cecil College, used the example of Prince George’s Community College’s respiratory care program. He said that is as a program unique to one school that MEA students will benefit from.
“Students can do the majority of their general education courses here at Cecil and go down to Prince George’s Community College to take theory classes, which are typically around a semester and a half of courses,” Haubert said. “Then they come back and they do their clinical work here in Cecil because Cecil College already has good relationships with Christiana Care and regional nursing homes. It saves students money because they don’t have to go to a different county to do their clinical work down there.”
Virtual learning makes the process even easier for students as they no longer have to commute to class.
Students can also take advantage of articulation agreements with four-year colleges, like the one Cecil College and Anne Arundel Community College have with Frostburg State University for mechanical engineering and electrical engineering, respectively.
The process began in August when Cecil College received approval to offer a lower division certificate in health sciences, an option that lays the groundwork for further health studies at other institutions.
“The MEA collaboration was born out of initial discussions between Cecil College, Anne Arundel Community College, and Frostburg State University related to engineering courses and programs. Opportunities to share resources and collaborate to increase enrollment in low-enrolled specialty engineering courses, such as electrical or aerospace engineering, started the collaborative conversations, but this quickly expanded to include other disciplines,” said Dr. Christy Dryer, Cecil College’s vice president of academic programs.
The participating institutions will meet annually to discuss issues and help further streamline the process for students. Other community colleges can join the MEA as they expand the amount of academic programs they offer.