Herkimer County, NY (WIBX) - An agreement to broaden access and opportunities for Herkimer County Community College students seeking a four year degree was signed with SUNY Empire State College today.

HCCC President Ann Marie Murray, Ph.D.,  said the partnership will remove barriers for students seeking a bachelors degree. "This particular agreement allows our students to remain at the college and continue on past the associates degree. It allows them to stay in the area, which is really important to them but it's even important to the Mohawk Valley to have our students who have achieved these levels to remain here, and to continue to work and live in the valley," Murray said.

The Pathways Transfer Program will allow HCCC students to go on to earn a 4 year degree at SUNY Empire through the Distance Learning option officials say. Empire State College President, Alan R. Davis, Ph.D., said global and technological advances make educational access possible for certain students. He said,  "Somebody who starts with Herkimer studying on-line and takes a complete program can in fact, complete that program now fully on-line to the bachelors level with Empire State College. And, they already know how to study on line so the combination of the two colleges is going to be very helpful to a lot of students." He said the new agreement also creates a pathway around a student's work and family commitments.

Murray hinted that future partnerships with other four year institutions are also being considered by the college to create even greater educational access and opportunities for upstate, NY students. HCCC, one of 30 community colleges in the State University of New York system, offers more than 40 associate degrees and certificate programs. To learn more about the new partnership and the Pathways Transfer Program contact Dr. Michael McCaskey, HCCC Vice President of Academic Affairs at (315) 866-0300 or go to, www.herkimer.edu.