News Release

SAC Receives Final Approval to Offer Bachelor’s Degree

​College celebrates being one of 12 community colleges statewide in landmark pilot program

(Santa Ana, CA)— The California Community Colleges Board of Governors gave final approval on Monday, March 16, for 12 community colleges to participate in a landmark program allowing them to offer bachelor’s degrees in nine different fields.  Santa Ana College (SAC) was selected to offer a baccalaureate degree in occupational studies.

Students at SAC can currently earn an associate degree in the college’s Occupational Therapy Assistant program. To become an occupational therapist, a master’s degree is required. This new bachelor’s degree program will ease the transition of entry by occupational therapy assistants into a master’s degree program. At the same time, students who earn the bachelor’s degree in occupational studies will stand out from other candidates for jobs as occupational therapy assistants.

“We are thankful that the Board of Governors has placed its trust in Santa Ana College and included us in this milestone program,” said Santa Ana College President Erlinda J. Martinez. Ed.D., who was present in Sacramento when this historic announcement was made. “In our centennial year, we are celebrating SAC’s excellent academic programs that prepare our students for a boundless future. It is exciting that our occupational therapy assistant students will have a leg up on others in this high-demand field due to this new bachelor’s degree.”

The Board of Governors’ action is in response to SB 850, sponsored by Sen. Marty Block and signed by the Governor last year, allowing the establishment of a pilot baccalaureate degree program at up to 15 community college districts in a field of study not offered by the California State University or the University of California.

Under SB 850, the new Bachelor of Science degree program in occupational studies must be up and running by at least the 2017-18 academic year. The timeline for the launch of SAC’s new degree program is as follows:

    • In fall 2015, reassigned time for faculty to develop upper-division coursework to support the Bachelor of Science in Occupational Studies.
    • In spring 2016, continue reassigned time for faculty working on developing upper-division coursework for the new B.S. degree.
    • In fall 2016, completed curriculum will be submitted to the college’s Curriculum Council, Academic Senate, Board of Trustees, and California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office for approval.
    • In fall 2017, fifth semester classes to support B.S. degree in Occupational Studies will be offered for the first time.
    • In spring 2018, sixth semester classes to support B.S. degree in Occupational Studies will be offered for the first time.
    • In fall 2018, seventh semester classes to support B.S. degree in Occupational Studies will be offered for the first time.
    • In spring of 2019, eighth semester classes to support B.S. degree in Occupational Studies will be offered for the first time and the first graduating class obtains their degrees.

“It is so exciting to have this opportunity to develop a bachelor's degree with a focus on occupational studies.  This opportunity will allow us to enhance the training our current and potential students.  The initial response from our community partners who employ our alumni has been excellent,” said Michelle Parolise, SAC coordinator/professor of the Occupational Therapy Assistant program (OTA).

SAC’s OTA program, the largest existing OTA community college program in the state, prepares students to provide service to help develop, recover, or maintain daily living and work skills of people with a physical, mental, or cognitive disorder. The major requires general education courses, including biological, social, and behavioral sciences, in addition to occupational therapy courses. The program utilizes classroom instruction and field work experiences to prepare the student to meet certification and employment standards. The college’s OTA program is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education.

A minimum of 124 semester credits will be needed to fulfill the requirements of the B.S. in Occupational Studies. Students will need to complete 75 units of lower-division coursework in the OTA program at a cost of $46 a unit (assuming that community college enrollment fees do not increase). The 49 additional upper division units will cost another $84, for a total of $130 per unit of the last two years of the program. In total, the cost of the four-year program, excluding books or other costs, would be about $9,820.

SB 850 sunsets after the 2022-23 academic year, after which the Legislature and Governor may renew it pending two Legislative Analyst’s Office reviews of the pilot program – one in 2018 and another in 2022.  The law was enacted to help the state in meeting the need for individuals in high-demand technical disciplines which are increasingly requiring bachelor’s degrees, to increase college participation rates, and to improve workforce training opportunities for local residents.

For a complete list of the bachelor’s degree programs receiving final approval statewide visit

For information about Santa Ana College’s centennial celebration. visit

About Santa Ana College
Santa Ana College (SAC), which is turning 100 years old in 2015, serves about 18,000 students each semester at its main campus in Santa Ana. The college prepares students for transfer to four-year institutions, provides invaluable workforce training, and customized training for business and industry. In addition, another 11,000 students are served through the college’s School of Continuing Education located at Centennial Education Center. Ranked as one of the nation’s top two-year colleges awarding associate degrees to Latino and Asian students, the college is also recognized throughout the state for its comprehensive workforce training programs for nurses, firefighters, law enforcement and other medical personnel. SAC is one of two comprehensive colleges under the auspices of the Rancho Santiago Community College District. Visit to learn more. For information about Santa Ana College’s Centennial, please visit 

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Contact: Judy Iannaccone

Phone: (714) 480-7503