California State University has awarded CSU Channel Islands (CSUCI) a grant to develop the statewide system’s first online program in Health Science in order to address the critical need for workers and provide working adults with a convenient way to complete their bachelor’s degree. 

The CSU Commission on Professional and Continuing Education awarded CSUCI a $50,000 accelerator grant to launch an online Bachelor of Science in Health Science degree in August 2024. 

A CSUCI Health Science student graduates in 2018. (Photo courtesy of CSUCI)

The U.S. has had a shortage of health care workers for decades, and the COVID-19 pandemic made it worse by driving many to leave the field because of burnout. The shortfall is more pronounced in California. In 2021, there were 34 percent more health care jobs requiring a bachelor’s degree in Health Science than the national average, according to a report commissioned by CSUCI. The report projected an 18-percent growth over the next five years, outpacing projected growth nationally. 

The program is being designed for students who work full time, particularly those who stopped taking classes before finishing bachelor’s degrees, by offering them a way to complete their bachelor’s degrees in a high-demand field. Potential students include those working in health care who want to advance in their careers and people wanting to switch into the growing industry. 

“This completion degree program is unique in that it is designed with the working adult in mind, a busy individual juggling the demanding realities of work and care for family,” said Dr. Sonsoles de Lacalle, Chair of CSUCI’s Health Science program. “For this reason, the program will combine rigorous academics and a simplified schedule that allows for a sustainable pace.”

One of the program’s goals is to serve military families stationed at Naval Base Ventura County, providing them with a degree they can complete even if they need to move before they finish because of deployment transfers. Juan Betancourt, head of the Department of the Navy Industrial Hygiene Division at Port Hueneme, is a Health Science Lecturer who is helping to develop the program. 

Launching after the meteoric growth in the use of virtual platforms during the pandemic, the online program comes at a time when most people have become comfortable with the technology involved. It will be CSUCI’s third online degree program. 

The curriculum will mirror exactly the Health Science bachelor’s degree already offered by CSUCI. It will provide a foundation in bioethics and health education, promotion, management, policymaking, and organizations. While the degree is completed entirely online, some on-campus networking options will be offered. 

The program will prepare students to serve in a variety of professional health care and wellness roles and to apply for licensing and post-graduate clinical degrees such as physical or occupational therapy or accelerated nursing programs. 

Individuals interested in this online program may contact the Health Science program at 805-437-1657 or