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Cambrian plans to increase degree offerings to four

Sudbury school adding three-year bachelor of applied computing degree program to roster
Cambrian College

As long as it gets the go-ahead from the province, Cambrian College will soon increase its roster of degree programs to four. 

The Sudbury college’s expansion of its degree offerings follows an announcement last year that gives Ontario colleges, which mostly deliver diploma programs, the ability to grant more degrees.

In April 2022, the Ontario government announced public colleges would be able to develop new three-year degree programs and additional four-year degree programs in key sectors to address gaps in the province’s labour needs.

The cap on degree programs that colleges can offer was raised by five per cent for all publicly assisted colleges. This means degree cap limits of 10 per cent at most colleges, and 20 per cent for Institutes of Technology and Advanced Learning.

Cambrian’s board of governors approved the creation of a Bachelor of Applied Computing three-year degree program at their Dec. 7 meeting.

While the new degree proposal has been OKed by the board, it still needs to get approval from the province, a process that could take anywhere from six to 12 months.

Materials in the board of governors package said the “Bachelor of Applied Computing is a practical three-year program that prepares graduates for the fast-growing job market in the field of Information Technology and its related areas.”

It provides a pathway for Cambrian students enrolled in the Computer Programming: Internet of Things diploma (CPIN) and Computer Systems Technician diploma (CETN) — they can transition into year three of the degree program.

Cambrian College also offers three-year Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) and four-year Honours Bachelor of Business Administration (HBBA) degrees, which were launched this fall, as well as a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BScN). 

Cambrian previously offered the nursing degree in partnership with Laurentian University, but launched the standalone version of the program in 2022. Colleges were given permission to launch standalone nursing degree programs in 2020.

Laurentian University also offers business and nursing degrees, as well as computer science degrees, and given this context, we asked Janice Clarke, Cambrian College’s vice-president, academic, about the college’s new programs.

“College degrees are different in terms of the amount of application there is in the curriculum, typically,” said Clarke, who added that Ontario colleges have been able to offer degrees for some two decades now. 

“So that's why all of our degrees have this ‘applied’ — you know, a Bachelor of Applied Computing. So it's not really as traditional as a computer science degree. It is really focused on application, hands on, case study, working with simulations, working in lab, working on real-world problems. 

“So I can't comment on Laurentian’s curriculum, but I know that the degrees work well within what we're already doing. We have diploma programs; it's a natural fit to do one extra year and be able to have a degree. So it works as far as our current students in those pathways.”

The business case provided by the college for the computing program said five colleges in Ontario already offer 14 related degrees with various specializations, although Cambrian would be the first college in the North to offer such a program.

The employment outlook is strong for related occupations, showing steady job growth and low unemployment rates. The salary for jobs is also significantly above average.

The college said enrolment by international students in related degrees has risen by 273 per cent over five years.

During the Dec. 7 meeting, Cambrian also approved the addition of a two-year diploma in animation as well as a certificate of achievement in RN prescribing. As with the computing degree, these would have to be approved by the province.

Cambrian already offers a three-year advanced diploma in animation, but the two-year diploma will provide students with a pathway for graduation if they wish to finish their studies after two years, as some do.

The RN prescribing program is a microcredential aligned with the Ontario government’s recent announcement that it’s expanding the role of registered nurses to prescribe medications. 

The program is a collaboration between seven colleges: Algonquin, Cambrian, Confederation, La Cite, Northern, St. Lawrence and Sault. All colleges will share the program delivery.

To enrol, individuals need to be a registered nurse in good standing with the College of Nurses of Ontario, have 3,900 hours of recent practice, and will need to provide letters of reference.

Heidi Ulrichsen is’s assistant editor. She also covers education and the arts scene.