Firefighters with the San Diego Fire Department participate in a fire control exercise at a training facility on Dec. 16, 2021. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

Miramar College is throwing its hat in the bachelor’s program ring. 

As the new submission period for community college bachelor’s degrees kicks off, Miramar College has become the latest school in the San Diego Community College District to propose developing a bachelor’s program.  

The program in public safety management would build off degrees already offered by Miramar’s School of Public Safety, which has long-provided degrees, technical training and certifications for emergency medical technicians, firefighters and law enforcement. The college’s public safety management, contemporary policing, fire technology company officer and entry level firefighter associate degree programs will serve as gateways to the proposed bachelor’s degree.  

The idea behind the bachelor’s degree is to provide a wide understanding of the region’s public safety and emergency response systems that students can apply throughout the state and nation, said Daniel Brislin, Miramar College’s dean of public safety. The curriculum will touch on disaster planning and emergency services, fire science, law enforcement and other interconnected fields. 

“When you talk about (a field) that’s growing and constantly evolving, and you’re dealing with different situations year by year, we want our students to be able to adapt to those situations, not only in an administrative role, but in a leadership role, and to be able to understand how the whole system works altogether,” Brislin said. 

San Marcos Housing Protest
San Diego County Sheriff’s Department officers patrol a car caravan protest against the redevelopment project of Villa Serena in San Marcos that would cause dozens of evictions. / File photo by Adriana Heldiz

A number of local and statewide agency heads, from the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department to regional fire response organizations to San Diego Gas and Electric’s director of emergency management submitted letters of support for Miramar’s proposed degree. Public safety is also one of the workforce sectors in the San Diego and Imperial region that the California Community College Chancellor’s Office has identified as a high-growth, high-wage field

Miramar’s proposal comes on the heels of the approval of San Diego City College’s bachelor’s degree in cyberdefense and analysis, after opposition from the California State University System to the program was lifted in December. Both Miramar and City’s degrees are enabled by AB 927, a new law that opened the door for California community colleges to create bachelor’s degrees, so long as they can prove they speak to local workforce needs and do not duplicate programs at existing four-year public universities in the state.  

“We’re doing our best to get ahead of this and communicating with the CSUs as much as possible because really what it comes down to is it’s not a competition, but rather a partnership,” Brislin said. 

Unlike City College’s cyberdefense degree, Feather River College’s proposed degree in ecosystem restoration and applied fire management is still mired in objections from the CSU system, which does already offer bachelor’s degrees related to fire management at multiple campuses. Feather River’s degree is the only degree from the first round of proposals that still hasn’t approved by the California Community College board of governors. 

Firefighters with the San Diego Fire Department participate in a fire control exercise at a training facility on Dec. 16, 2021. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

“There’s been some issues with ‘is this a fire science degree’ or whatnot, and it’s not, it’s a public safety management degree … there is no overlap (with what CSUs offer),” Wesley Lundberg, president of Miramar College said. “This (degree) is fulfilling a need that’s out there that is not being met currently,” he said. 

If Miramar’s degree is approved, it would mean that every for-credit school in the San Diego Community College District would have a bachelor’s program. Mesa College has had a bachelor’s program in health information management since 2015. The degree was created via SB 850, the pilot program predecessor to AB 927. 

But this submission period features significantly more competition from other community colleges than the inaugural one. AB 927 allows for 15 colleges per biannual submission period to develop a bachelor’s degree, and while last period only 10 colleges applied, state community college officials announced at a recent board of governors meeting that 29 colleges had applied this time around.  

Jakob McWhinney is Voice of San Diego's education reporter. He can be reached by email at and followed on Twitter @jakobmcwhinney. Subscribe...

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