City Council is supportive of Santa Monica College’s plan to offer a four-year bachelor’s degree.

The degree would be in interactive design and will require approval from the office of Brice W. Harris, chancellor of the California Community Colleges.

In September, Gov. Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 850, which authorizes a pilot program allowing up to 15 different community college districts to offer one baccalaureate degree in fields such as technology, health and science.

Santa Monica College submitted its request last year. The colleges are expected to be selected this month.

Council voted unanimously to support SMC’s plan Tuesday night — a gesture that has no official impact.

The interactive design degree, also called User Experience Design, is a response to Santa Monica College’s location in the midst of Southern California’s booming tech scene.

“There are thousands of jobs available in this emerging and rapidly evolving field in LA County alone for individuals with an ‘interaction design’ skills set, focused on how to balance functionality and aesthetics into something that works for the end user in the digital world,” city officials said in a report to council.

One stipulation of the bill, city officials said, is that the program can’t duplicate degrees already available at the University of California or California State University.

“Only two private universities in California — Art Center College of Design and California College of the Arts — offer a bachelor’s level degree in this new field of interaction design,” city officials said. “The programs at these two universities cost around $40,000 per year. If approved by the California Community College’s Board of Governors, a student could earn a degree at SMC at a cost of just over $10,000 for the entire program.”

If selected, the college would have to have the program up and running by at least the 2017-18 academic year, but SMC officials want it started by the fall of this year, city officials said.

The law sunsets after the 2022-23 school year, they said, after which the government could renew it pending two positive reviews from the Legislative Analyst’s Office.

“SMC has robust certificate programs in both graphic and web design with a large number of students enrolled in the lower division core courses of the proposed degree,” city officials said. “The college has the facilities and resources needed to offer this degree — including the Academy of Entertainment and Technology — highly qualified faculty with industry expertise and strong involvement from the local tech industry. SMC is the only Southern California community college district to propose a degree in the area of Information Technology.”

Interaction design is an emerging field with great need for workers in Los Angeles, Santa Monica College officials said in a release.

Interaction or user experience designers shape mostly digital things for people’s use — they can be described as a combination of designer, user experience researcher, and creative technologist,” they said in the release. “Prominent examples of interaction design in action: Facebook ‘timeline’, Pinterest, Instagram photo-sharing app.”

dave@www.smdp.com

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