Howard Community College officials are putting 17 new academic programs on their fall schedule - their biggest one-time addition yet.
Administrators typically add a few extra majors each year. Their aggressiveness this time comes on the heels of plans for an expanded summer session.
"We went into this year focused on growing," said Ron Roberson, HCC's vice president of academic affairs. "The timing was just right."
HCC's student body grew about 8 percent this semester. More programs were needed for the semester that begins Aug. 27, a faculty research and development team decided.
HCC offers 74 majors. The additions range from anthropology and dance performance to surgical technology and e-commerce.
"There's an `e' component to everything these days - especially in the business world," said Marie Westhaver, the school's Webmaster.
Two of the planned majors will offer more focus to students who are not sure what they want to do. Rather than choosing HCC's "general studies" major, they can opt for general studies with a business and technology emphasis or general studies with a science emphasis.
"It is addressing a very big need," Roberson said. "`General studies' and `undecided' are our biggest groups. Together, they make up over 20 percent of our majors. ... We know they don't all end up in liberal arts."
Some of the new programs won't require much work to set up because the key classes have been offered before. Others are ready to go - because the courses are offered elsewhere.
Howard, Frederick and Carroll community colleges have banded together so students who want to study health have more choices. The schools, which formed a group called the Mid-Maryland Allied Healthcare Education Consortium, will share programs.
The four new health-related majors on HCC's schedule in the fall - physical therapist assistant, respiratory therapy and two levels of surgical technology - are run from Frederick or Carroll.
After HCC students finish their general-education courses in Columbia, they will head to one of the other schools for specialty classes - but won't have to pay the more expensive out-of-county rate.
Emily Slunt, chairwoman of HCC's health sciences division, said the arrangement is ideal because the college doesn't have room for the extra labs that the new majors would require.
She expects more program swaps in the future.
Arts and humanities administrators expect that two new majors in their field - video/multimedia and mass media design and production - will be huge. Similar in many ways, the programs will tap into student demand for instruction in high-tech art.
"We've had a ton of requests for it, a ton of requests," said Valerie Costantini, chairwoman of the arts and humanities division at HCC. "There are jobs out there that need people."