Eighteen students from Santa Monica College were awarded four-year bachelor of science degrees in Interaction Design on Thursday — joining other ’18 grads making history as the first to earn a bachelor’s degree from a California community college.

Graduates spoke about their experiences in the program, which allows students to take on a quality four-year program without going deeply into debt. Tuition is roughly $10,000 for all four years of the program — while comparable programs cost approximately $160,000 at traditional four-year schools.

SMC held an “Interaction Design Grad Show” Thursday night to celebrate these 18 students, acting as a showcase of the students’ portfolios and as an industry mixer. Three graduates have already started a design firm, while others are now working for the Natural History Museum.

The students spend their first two years studying graphic design, and the last two in rigorous upper-division interaction design courses. This program also includes courses on computer science, business, cognitive psychology, and media. In addition to coursework and internships, students take part in group projects for charitable and corporate partners, like the American Heart Association or Forever 21.

Santa Monica College is one of 15 California community college campuses to participate in the Baccalaureate Pilot Program, which established baccalaureate degree programs to meet workforce needs. Many programs started in the fall of 2015. Each program is curated for the colleges based on the workforce demands in each region. Santa Monica College’s Interaction Design program prepares students for the growing technology sector, which is expected to have nearly 50,000 job openings next year.

“This is a historic moment for Santa Monica College, and I congratulate the talented graduates and their dedicated instructors!” said Dr. Kathryn E Jeffery, SMC Superintendent/President. “We are exceptionally proud of these 18 students as they leave SMC having made it through a rigorous program that transformed them into interaction designers with the skills needed to succeed in this dynamic field.”



Images: Amy Gaskin | Santa Monica College