New Natural Science degree prepares students for success in STEM fields

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HILO — Hawai‘i Community College is offering a new science degree that is designed for students who intend to transfer to a four-year university and obtain a baccalaureate degree in science, technology, engineering or math (STEM).

The new degree is a two-year Associate in Science in Natural Science, and students in the degree program can choose to focus on either biological science or physical science.

Students who graduate from HawCC with the new degree are automatically accepted at UH Hilo as a junior with most of their core requirements fulfilled.

The degree also allows for a smooth transfer to other four-year colleges in the UH System.

“This is a great new option that gives students an affordable way to begin their studies in science and keep progressing after they graduate from HawCC,” said Laura Brezinsky, a HawCC science professor who helped develop the degree. “The courses they take at HawCC will fulfill STEM program requirements at UH Hilo and provide an easier pathway into four-year STEM programs.”

The Natural Science A.S. degree prepares students to enter a variety of programs at UH Hilo, including:  Astronomy, Biology, Computer Science, Engineering, Pre-Pharmacy, Marine Science, Agriculture (Animal Science-Livestock Production Specialty), Animal Science (Pre-Veterinary Specialty), and Nursing, among others.

Four-year STEM degrees can lead to careers with job security and attractive annual salaries.

The University of Hawai‘i Board of Regents approved the Associate in Science program earlier this year for HawCC, Windward CC, Honolulu CC and Kaua‘i CC. Kapi‘olani CC, Leeward CC, and Maui College already had similar degrees, as do many community colleges nationwide.

HawCC has other associate degrees designed specifically for students who intend to transfer to four-year colleges and universities, such as Liberal Arts, Liberal Arts with a Business emphasis, and Hawaiian Studies. But this is the first time the community college has offered a “direct transfer” science degree.

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