by Alana J. Mauger
Montgomery County Community College’s Board of Trustees took action on Monday to approve modifications to the College’s History concentration within its Social Sciences degree program. The changes align the concentration with content and competencies outlined by the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s new Transfer Agreement Oversight Committee (TAOC) framework for two-year institutions.
MCCC introduced History and Psychology concentrations to its Social Sciences Associate in Arts (A.A.) degree program in 2007 in response to findings from its Academic Program Review (APR). A Geography concentration was later added in 2009.
“The work behind the APR suggested that students enrolled in the Social Sciences program did not have a clear focus or understanding of the degree,” explained Dr. Aaron Shatzman, dean of Social Sciences at MCCC. “We believed that creating concentrations would provide students with a clear sense of ‘major’ and create opportunities to identify with a particular discipline and its faculty.”
According to Shatzman, another goal of developing Social Sciences concentrations was to increase student persistence and graduation rates. While the History concentration is too new to provide meaningful graduation or transfer rates, the number of students who declare Social Science/History as their major has grown from 10 in 2008 to 57 in 2012 – a 470 percent increase.
The modifications, which will take effect in fall 2014, will require students to enroll in specific history, language, geography and science courses, as opposed to selecting electives from these areas. The revised program meets MCCC’s general education core requirements, as well as those specified by TAOC for seamless transfer within the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) system.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook, virtually all jobs in social sciences, history and related fields require at least a bachelor’s degree – with many requiring advanced graduate work – which makes transferability of credits crucial to student success. While employment is these areas is projected to grow by 18 percent through 2020, job candidates can expect to face strong competition.
For more information about the Social Sciences program at MCCC, visit mc3.edu/academics.