The Brandon campus of Hillsborough Community College is at 10451 Nancy Watkins Dr. in Tampa.

By Linda Chion

The first bachelor’s degree offering in the 54-year history of Hillsborough Community College (HCC) is new this fall with online classes for registered nurses seeking to earn a Bachelor of Science in nursing (BSN) degree.

Also offered at HCC is an associate degree in nursing, which provides an entry-level education in nursing and eligibility to take the licensing examination for registered nurses. The BSN degree takes it a step further with online studies in eight-week courses covering such topics as health promotion and risk reduction, ethical and legal issues, leadership and management, evidence-based practice and health care needs of diverse populations.

Paving the way for the BSN degree, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) in mid-June issued its final approval for HCC as a baccalaureate-degree granting institution, which college officials say “will forever change the character of the institution.”

“The approval represents a transformational moment in HCC’s 54-year history,” said HCC President Dr. Ken Atwater. “Years of focused, dedicated effort went towards this successful outcome.” He noted also that the accreditation furthers HCC’s “commitment toward meeting the needs of local employers, in this case the health care industry who came to us with the request to start the BSN.”

The BSN degree will be offered campuswide across the HCC system, including in Brandon, Plant City and SouthShore, with courses primarily out of the Dale Mabry campus, said Deborah Kish Johansen, Brandon campus president.

“It’s quite exciting and a change for us,” said Johansen, noting as well the national nursing shortage. “The mission of community colleges is to help with programming where we can, so it makes sense to help with shortages to help meet the needs of our individual communities.”

By offering a BSN degree, HCC “can build on a skillset we already have, expand our offerings and supplement what our four-year partners provide,” Johansen said, “and it gives pathways to our students to complete their studies to get a BSN and advance their careers.”

For more on admission, costs, courses and accreditation, review RN to BSN information online at, email or call 813-253-7284.

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