300-level courses face unsure future at AACC


Alexandra Radovic

AACC’s plan to offer 300-level courses in interior design is on hold for now.

Bethany Probst, Co-Editor

The Maryland Higher Education Commission has stalled AACC’s plan to offer 300-level courses for students hoping to become interior designers or physician assistants.

After AACC proposed offering an applied bachelor’s degree in interior design last year, the commission encouraged the college to create 300-level classes, but not any four-year degrees, according to AACC Vice President for Learning Mike Gavin. That way, an interior design student could take three years of college here, and just one year at a four-year university, where tuition is higher.

Four-year universities in the state had opposed the creation of applied bachelor’s degree programs at community colleges.

After AACC proposed adding 300-level courses to its interior design and physician assistant programs, however, MHEC officials said the state Legislature must change the law before community colleges may label their advanced courses as 300-level classes.

Gavin said he does not believe the law prohibits community colleges from offering 300-level courses.

Still, AACC has put those upper-level courses on hold. The school continues to offer a professional certificate for physician assistants and certificates in interior design.

“We’re still offering 300-level classes in terms of content,” Gavin said. “[However], we’re not allowed to number them 300-level, which seems, to all of us, a little backward.”

No four-year college in Maryland offered a bachelor’s degree in interior design until last year, when Morgan State University created one.

Morgan State’s four-year program “was put up at the same time that we asked for a four-year degree,” Gavin said. “Their students, when they hit their junior level, are now coming to take our classes because they can’t staff [them].”

Elizabeth Appel, dean of the School of Health Sciences, said she is hopeful the state will eventually approve 300-level courses at AACC that could become part of a three-year  interprofessional healthcare certificate program for students interested in becoming physician assistants. Those students could go on to the University of Maryland, Baltimore, to work toward a master’s degree in health sciences.

Those students would be “very eager” to take 300-level courses at AACC, she said.

“You can’t lose,” Appel said. “It’s a wonderful starting point. … It’s not limiting you in any way, and that’s the beauty of this.”

Some AACC students said they would like AACC to offer upper-level courses.

“[There’s] more flexibility in community college classes,” Morgan Stueckler, a second-year paramedic student, said. “The resources that we have at AACC, along with pricing and financial [assistance] for the schooling, is definitely something that people are going to be interested in.”