Dakota County Technical College explores offering advanced technical degrees

DCTC and TKDA Partnership

An exploratory taskforce has laid out a three-year, three phase process

Dakota County Technical College (DCTC) is exploring the possibility of offering bachelor-level polytechnic degrees.  An exploratory taskforce was formed this past summer to determine if there’s a demand for advanced technical degrees as well as if DCTC has the capacity to take on the new programming.

Polytechnics are comprehensive universities that offer professional, career-focused programs in a variety of subject areas.

“Minnesota lacks an institution that offers polytechnic programming,” said DCTC Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs Mike Opp, “which makes it difficult for technical students to earn advanced degrees such as a Bachelor of Applied Science.  This is a missing link in Minnesota’s higher education system and we are determining if DCTC can fill it.”

According to the Minnesota Office of Higher Education, the level of award a graduate earns has the greatest effect on future wages.

“A polytechnic would provide an opportunity for technical students to earn higher level awards,” said DCTC Automotive Technology instructor and taskforce member Mark Hickman.  “Many traditional colleges and universities do not accept technical credits. By transitioning to a polytechnic, DCTC could provide value to technical students throughout the state through advanced educational opportunities.”

The exploratory taskforce has laid out a three-year, three-phase process:

  • Phase 1 is the exploration and decision process, which will include analyzing the pros and cons of offering Bachelor of Applied Science degrees, identifying programs to pursue, developing a cost benefit analysis, and examining DCTC’s readiness to pursue polytechnic programming
  • Phase 2 is the request and receipt of approval from the Board of Trustees of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system and the Minnesota State Legislature
  • Phase 3 is acquiring Higher Learning Commission approval, DCTC’s accreditation body

Initial research conducted by a preliminary workgroup – a precursor to Phase 1 – indicated the need to determine demand for specific polytech programs. Three sub-groups were formed to look at possible program areas of focus including IT, Industrial Management and Transportation. The main task of the sub-groups was to collect data from industry and students. The earliest programs could begin would be Fall semester 2019.

“The concept of polytechnic education fulfills a unique higher education niche and need,” said Mark Jacobs, Dakota-Scott Counties Workforce Director.  “While we don’t know which areas will be recommended for Bachelor of Applied Science tracks, the college is taking the right approach in consulting with employers to determine the programs which will be most in demand.”