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FARMINGTON — Diné College is introducing three new bachelor degree programs this fall as part of a plan to expand the number of undergraduate degrees offered.

The Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools approved Diné College's proposal to offer three new bachelor's degree programs on July 1, according to a college press release. The three new degree programs are a Bachelor of Science in biology, a Bachelor of Arts in psychology and a Bachelor of Science in secondary education with an emphasis on math and science.

They join the other two bachelor's degrees the college offers — a Bachelor of Arts in business administration and Bachelor of Arts in elementary education. Diné College currently offers 19 associate degree programs, two bachelor's degree programs and six certificate programs.

Interim college President Marin Ahumada said in the press release the three bachelor's degrees will enable students to graduate with a degree and work in fields important to the Navajo Nation.

In a telephone interview, Dean of the Faculty Lisa Eutsey said expanding the number of bachelor's degree programs will help Diné College continue to be a leading tribal higher education institute.

“Diné College has a lot of untapped potential,” Eutsey said.

The college staff started developing the programs about two years ago and sought grant funding to pay for costs, including faculty salaries.

The college received funding from a federal Title 111 grant and a $2.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation. Both grants focus on providing science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) instruction to Native American students, Eutsey said.

Eutsey started submitting paperwork for the degrees to the HLC in December, and members of the commission toured the Tsaile, Ariz., campus in May before approving the programs.

With Diné College offering the three new bachelor's degree programs, Eutsey said students no longer will have to travel or move off the Navajo reservation to pursue an education in those fields.

“This allows people to pursue degrees and future careers in these field without going too far away,” Eutsey said.

New courses for the three bachelor’s degrees were created with about 16 courses created to accommodate the requirements for each degree program, Eutsey said.

Two new certificates also will be offered in the fall semester.

Certificates in computer technology and geographic information systems will join the six certificate programs currently offered by the college.

Along with the new degree and certificate programs, the college staff is developing Bachelor in Navajo Language and culture and Bachelor in Fine Arts degree programs.

Eutsey said college officials hope to submit paperwork to the HLC next year for approval.

Joshua Kellogg covers education for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627.

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