Community College Nursing Baccalaureate Legislation


Over the last decade or more, there have been several legislative attempts to amend the Community College Act to let colleges award select baccalaureate degrees. Most recently in 2012, the legislature amended the Act to let colleges offer baccalaureate degrees in four areas: Cement Technology, Culinary Arts, Energy Production and Maritime Technology. A nursing baccalaureate was also considered, but ultimately stripped out late in the legislative process. Since that time community colleges around the state have offered baccalaureate degrees, including Northwestern Michigan College, which has offered a bachelor’s degree in Maritime Technology since 2013.

Current Legislation

On Dec. 7, House Bill 5556 and House Bill 5557 advanced from the House Education Committee to the full House on a vote of 8-2-2. Committee supporters included Rep. Jack O'Malley, R-Lake Ann. The bills would amend the Community College Act and allow community colleges to offer bachelor of science in nursing degrees.

Key Points

  1. Need
    1. With a growing healthcare workforce shortage, now more than ever, healthcare providers need baccalaureate-prepared nurses to deliver care in our rural communities. According to the National Academy of Sciences Future of Nursing Report:
      1. By 2020, 80% of nurses should have their BSN.
      2. Currently, Munson Healthcare hospitals have between 50% and 60% of their nurses with a BSN.
    2. While NMC already partners with four-year institutions to provide a ADN/RN to BSN completion program (ex: with Davenport and Ferris State), these programs alone are not meeting the need.
  2. Accessibility
    1. There are 28 community colleges around Michigan providing local, accessible options for students seeking a BSN degree.
    2. Colleges in our rural communities in northern Michigan provide easy access for working students seeking a BSN to further their career, or as a requirement of employment. The distance from Traverse City to the nearest four-year university (Ferris State University) is almost 90 miles.
  3. Outcomes
    1. Clinical research has shown that BSN nurses provide for better patient outcomes.
    2. Research links a higher percentage of BSN-prepared nurses to lower patient morbidity and mortality rates. According to the Center for Health Outcomes and Policy Research at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, a 10% increase in the proportion of nurses with BSNs was associated with a 7% decrease in patient deaths.
  4. Cost
    1. Community colleges offer an affordable option for students seeking a nursing baccalaureate degree and are typically half the cost or less of a university for in-district/in-state tuition. According to each institution's website, the per credit hour tuition is:
      1. NMC: in-district $112 in-district / $234 in-state
      2. Baker College: $425
      3. Ferris State University: $455 freshman/sophomore / $485 junior/senior
      4. Lake Superior State University: $538

Draft Letter

You can use the text below to reach out to your senator and representative and express support for the legislature passing legislation to allow a community college to confer a nursing bachelor's degree:

Dear Senator or Representative (Name),

I am writing in strong support of legislation that would allow local community college boards to make decisions over if a college should confer a nursing bachelor’s degree.

This legislation is needed now more than ever to address the regional need for nurses with BSNs. Our regional healthcare partner, Munson Healthcare, requires that all nurses have a BSN within five years of employment, making a local, affordable and accessible option for obtaining a BSN critically important.

Further, community colleges offer per-credit hour rates far below that of universities and four-year private colleges. For example, Northwestern Michigan College charges $234/credit hour for out-of-district nursing students compared to Lake Superior State University that charges $538 or Baker College in Cadillac that charges $425.

Clinical research shows that BSN nurses provide for better patient outcomes with a 7% decrease in patient deaths for every 10% more nurses with BSNs.

As the first college in Michigan to offer a baccalaureate degree, since 2013, NMC has proven that a community college can offer an affordable and accessible bachelors program that is fully accredited and meets the need of our industry partners.

Please vote in favor of allowing NMC to further our role as the community’s college and address the significant need for bachelors prepared nurses in northwest Lower Michigan.


Nov. 30 video testimony by Munson Healthcare President and CEO Ed Ness to the Michigan House Education Committee

Baccalaureate Nursing Bill news Conference

Nov. 10, 2021

Conference on the introduction of House Bill 5556 and House Bill 5557 to allow community colleges to offer bachelor's degrees in nursing. Speakers include State Rep. John Roth, R-Traverse City, NMC President Nick Nissley, Ed.D, and Gabe Schneider, Director of Government Relations for Munson Healthcare.

Take Action Now

As the Michigan Legislature takes up this important legislation, now is the time to act. Please reach out to your State Senator and State Representative listed below and use the key points listed here to voice your support for this bill.

State Senator Curt VanderWall

  • 35 th District: Benzie, Crawford, Kalkaska, Lake, Leelanau, Manistee, Mason, Missaukee, Ogemaw, Osceloa, Roscommon and Wexford Counties
  • Address: 4500 Binsfeld Bldg, Post Office Box 30036, Lansing, MI 48909
  • Phone: (517) 373-1725
  • Email:
  • Social: @SenVanderWall

State Senator Wayne Schmidt

  • 37 th District: Antrim, Charlevoix, Cheboygan, Chippewa, Emmet, Grand Traverse, Luce and Mackinac Counties
  • Address: S-8 Capitol Building, Post Office Box 30036, Lansing, MI 48909
  • Phone: (517) 373-2413
  • Email:
  • Social: @wayneschmidt

State Representative John Roth

  • 104 th District: Grand Traverse County
  • Address: S-1388 House Office Building, P.O. Box 30014, Lansing, MI 48909
  • Phone: (517) 373-1766
  • Email:
  • Social: @RepRothMI

State Representative Jack O’Malley

  • 101 st District: Leelanau, Benzie, Manistee, and Mason Counties
  • Address: S-1385 House Office Building, P.O. Box 30014, Lansing, MI 48909
  • Phone: (517) 373-0825
  • Email:

In The News

NMC, Munson Face Familiar Challenges To Four-Year Nursing Degree Legislation

January 26, 2022

Editorial: Community colleges are part of the nursing shortage solution

December 5, 2021

State representatives put forth plan to train more nurses to fill shortage

November 10, 2021

Michigan lawmakers introduce legislation to allow community colleges to offer 4-year nursing education

November 10, 2021

Four-Year Nursing Degree Bill Still A Hope For NMC, Despite Hurdles

November 10, 2020

NMC, Munson support BSN option at community colleges

October 30, 2020

Legislation Would Allow Community Colleges To Offer Four-Year Degrees In Nursing

September 23, 2020

Senate committee approves Nesbitt legislation allowing community colleges to offer four-year nursing degrees

September 22, 2020