Blue Ridge’s new programs will help prepare students for careers in engineering, information technology, healthcare and education. (Imagery supplied by GettyImages.)

Blue Ridge Launches New Programs

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Marketing & Communications Dept.

HENDERSONVILLE, N.C. – To prepare students for an influx of in-demand jobs available in the region, Blue Ridge Community College is launching eight new programs to help students build skills in engineering, information technology, business, healthcare and education. Students can take classes within these programs beginning with the fall semester in August. 

The new programs recently received full approval from the North Carolina State Board of Community Colleges. This approval comes after a comprehensive feasibility study conducted by Blue Ridge Community College faculty and staff to ensure a robust local demand for program graduates and a promising long-term job outlook.  

“We strive to continuously meet the needs of our local workforce and are excited to add these offerings to our 200-plus existing degrees, diplomas and certificate programs,” said Dr. Laura B. Leatherwood, president of Blue Ridge Community College. “We have conducted a thorough needs assessment, and these programs will prepare workers for in-demand jobs right here in Henderson and Transylvania Counties.” 

The new majors starting this fall are:

Civil Engineering Technology: The Civil Engineering Technology associate degree program prepares graduates with skills needed by technicians to carry out tasks in the construction of transportation systems, residential and commercial buildings, bridges, dams and water treatment. Graduates find jobs with the North Carolina Department of Transportation, general and specialty contractors, commercial and residential developers, consulting engineering companies, municipalities and environmental firms.

Environmental Engineering Technology: The Environmental Engineering Technology associate degree program prepares graduates to use mathematical and scientific principles to modify, test and operate equipment and devices used to prevent, control and remedy environmental problems. Graduates will qualify for technician-level jobs with both public and private engineering, construction and testing agencies.

Artificial Intelligence: The Artificial Intelligence (AI) associate degree pathway is designed to provide students with the knowledge and skills necessary for employment and growth in the rapidly growing AI profession. Emerging technologies such as the internet-of-things, face recognition, voice recognition, big-data analysis and simulation agents rely on AI applications. Occupations currently requesting AI skills include business analyst, data engineer, engineer, software developer, architect, and many more. Blue Ridge Community College is the only community college in Western North Carolina that offers the Artificial Intelligence associate degree program. Students may choose from an in-person or fully online option for the new Artificial Intelligence program.  

Entrepreneurship: The Entrepreneurship associate degree program adds to the College’s already established certificate program. Entrepreneurship and small business are a rapidly growing part of North Carolina, which CNBC recently named as the best place to do business in America. The Entrepreneurship program will provide students with the necessary tools to achieve their goal of starting and successfully running their own businesses. The program will be available fully online.

Elementary Education Residency Certificate: The Elementary Education Residency is designed for those who hold a bachelor’s degree outside of education but would like to become a licensed classroom teacher, and they currently are employed by a local school system. The new certification makes becoming an elementary school teacher easier and more affordable. This program supports the needs of school systems throughout Western North Carolina that need trained teachers licensed to fill open positions as soon as possible. The teaching licensing courses will be offered fully online.

Medical Office Administration: The Medical Office Administration associate degree program, the latest addition to the College’s rapidly growing healthcare training offerings, prepares graduates for employment in medical offices, hospitals, insurance companies, laboratories and other healthcare-related organizations. Graduates will learn administrative and support functions and develop skills needed in medical environments, such as medical terminology, information systems, office management, medical coding, billing and insurance and legal and ethical issues. 

Other expansions in the College’s healthcare training offerings include Respiratory Therapy and Practical Nursing. 

The College is a satellite location for Southwestern Community College’s (Sylva, NC) Respiratory Therapy program. Students may apply to Southwestern and attend classes at Blue Ridge’s Transylvania County Campus in Brevard. Students will master skills in patient assessment and treatment of cardiopulmonary diseases. These skills include life support, monitoring, drug administration and treatment of patients of all ages in hospitals, clinics, medical practices, nursing homes and home care.

Blue Ridge plans to launch a one-year Practical Nursing (PN) diploma program in Spring of 2024, pending approval by the state Board of Nursing. The Practical Nursing Diploma program addresses a critical need for PNs to provide acute patient care, especially in long-term care facilities, as well as hospitals and medical practices.  

Interested students may find information about the College’s new programs and its existing majors at blueridge.edu/programs. The College’s fall semester schedule of classes is listed online at blueridge.edu/course-schedules. 

Blue Ridge Community College offers a wide range of financial aid assistance programs, including Pell Grants, scholarships, and payment plans. Registration for the fall semester, which begins August 17, 2023, is currently underway. 

Those ready to begin or continue their college journey can find out how to get started by contacting the College’s One Stop Center by emailing information@blueridge.edu or calling 828.694.1800. 


About Blue Ridge Community College: Blue Ridge Community College is a two-year, post-secondary institution that elevates the educational experience to prepare students for 21st-century success in the workplace or at four-year colleges and universities. Providing real-life, affordable, and accessible education, the College offers more than 200 degrees, diplomas, and certificates; more than 200 online courses; and fast-tracked job training.

Our Mission: Blue Ridge Community College empowers individuals with knowledge and skills to enrich our communities and build a competitive workforce.  

To learn more about Blue Ridge Community College, visit www.blueridge.edu.