Originally the Mobile branch campus of the Alabama State College, Bishop State Community College was founded in 1927 to offer extension courses to African-American teachers. When the college first opened, there were only seven faculty members, including education pioneers such as Mary Wilbur Weeks Burroughs and Dr. Benjamin F. Baker.
In 1938, Dr. Sanford D. Bishop Sr. joined the faculty of “The Branch,” as it was called, and in 1941, he was named dean. In 1965, state legislature re-established the school as the Mobile State Junior College and named Dr. Bishop president of the new independent facility. In 1971, the state renamed the school S.D. Bishop State Junior College in his honor.
The college continued to grow and offer more vocational and career programs and community services. It earned its current name in 1989, and in 1991, the state board of education consolidated Southwest State Technical College and Carver State Technical College with BSCC. Today, those two schools are the Southwest and Carver campuses, and the Baker-Gaines Central Campus opened in 1995. “The Branch” now has three branch campuses of its own.
Students of the main campus or its three branches can enjoy all the city of Mobile has to offer, including cruises on the Mobile River, visits to the Mobile Museum of Art, or evenings at the local symphony, opera or ballet. This third most populous city in Alabama even comes alive once a year for its own Mardi Gras celebration, complete with a carnival and a parade.
Accreditation to award associate degrees and certificates is granted by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Specific programs are also accredited by separate agencies, such as the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission and the State of Alabama Department of Public Health. The college has an enrollment of more than 3,000 students, and with a student-faculty ratio of 13-to-1 can provide the personal attention that many larger institutions cannot.
The college offers seven academic programs and three technical programs of study. Academic divisions include such fields of study as social sciences, economics, and education, with technical fields of study including commercial and industrial programs, consumer and transportation technology, and engineering and construction.
The school offers general education courses in social sciences, humanities, and natural sciences and mathematics, as well as a short certificate in Interpreter Training and an Associate of Science degree in American Sign Language.
Distance learning is available for students who want to study from the comfort of their homes.
Opportunities are available for accelerated programs, internships, career counseling, and placement services. Academic services such as remedial instruction and tutoring are available as well.
Most Popular Fields of Study
Applicants must provide one primary and two secondary forms of education and have received a diploma, GED or an acceptable equivalent. Students who intend to become teachers and wish to enroll in Alabama colleges or universities must achieve a score of at least 18 on the ACT or an equivalent score on the SAT. Applicants must submit an application and transcripts from all high schools attended. First-time college students, a designation which encompasses any students who have not previously attended an accredited postsecondary school, must attend an orientation, and they are advised to take Psychology 100, which is a college orientation course.
Applicants who are taking non-credit courses must have documented ability to benefit from the courses. Those who do not submit official transcripts or GED certificates may be granted conditional admission for the first semester but will not be permitted to remain for a second semester unless all required admissions documents have been filed prior to second-semester registration.
Transfer students must submit transcripts from all duly accredited postsecondary schools they have attended, along with their admission application, in order to be considered for unconditional admission. Students who meet admission requirements for courses creditable toward an associates degree are classified as “degree-eligible” students. Those who do not are designated “non degree-eligible” students. Transfer students may enroll on the same conditional basis as incoming freshmen and will also be required to submit all missing paperwork before second-semester registration in order to remain enrolled. Students who attempt to transfer after having been suspended by another institution will not be considered without a successful appeal to the Admissions Committee.
International students are encouraged to enroll, and like traditional freshmen, are required to submit applications and transcripts. In addition, international students need to submit signed and notarized financial statements documenting that they have the necessary funds to cover the cost of their attendance. Students for whom English is not their first language are required to pass the TOEFL test with a score of at least 500. International students must have current immunization records and must maintain adequate health insurance throughout their enrollment, both for themselves and for any dependents who may travel with them.
High school students who have completed the 10th grade and maintained a “B” average may enroll in the accelerated program. These students may take only courses for which all high school prerequisites have been completed.
Students in Grade 10 or above who meet the entrance requirements and have both a 3.0 grade-point average and a score of 20 on the English and math sections of the ACT or equivalent COMPASS scores are eligible for dual enrollment. With the permission of parents, principal, high school superintendent and the college president, these students may take occupational or technical courses or programs. The student will earn one high school credit for every six credit hours of postsecondary study. Dual enrollment students who achieve at least a 2.5 GPA in technical programs or a 3.0 in health programs may be considered for early college enrollment.
As with any post-secondary school, the first step toward applying for financial aid is filling out the FAFSA form to determine eligibility for federal aid. Common types of financial aid include grants, scholarships, loans, and work study programs. Students seeking information on financial aid should contact the financial aid office.
Student Financial Aid Details
Today, more than half of all students are female, and just under half are minorities. Nearly all are Alabama residents.
On-campus housing is not available, but that does not mean there isn’t a thriving community of student organizations and activities at the college. For the musically inclined, there is a college choir and a band. Music majors and minors must join the band, but it is also open to other students via auditions.
There is a campus ministry for students who enjoy volunteer work and community involvement, and there are honor societies and clubs revolving around several of the college’s majors, such as culinary arts and funeral service education.
Students who meet eligibility requirements based on scholarship and conduct may choose to get involved in student government. Many members, including Mr. and Miss Bishop State, are elected by their fellow students.
Student Enrollment Demographics
The athletics department offers students the chance to compete as members of any of four sports teams: The men’s baseball team, men’s basketball team, women’s basketball team or women’s softball team. The baseball team and the men’s and women’s basketball teams are members of the Alabama Junior College Conference and the National Junior College Athletic Association, and the softball team competes in the Southern Division of the Alabama Junior and Community College Conference.
The basketball teams have won a number of conference championships, and their coaches have been named all-conference coaches on several occasions. In 2010, the school’s director of athletics, Dr. Timothy Broughton, was appointed to the United States Sports Academy Board of Trustees. Broughton is an accomplished author and educator who began serving as the director of teaching and learning center/athletics director in 2005.
The college’s teams are known as the Wildcats, and their athletic spirit is spread by the Bishop State cheerleaders, as well as the school’s pep club and the Jazzettes, an all-female hip hop and jazz dance team.
Elisabeth Bailey is a freelance writer and editor with particular interests in academics, food,and sustainability . She is also the author of A Taste of the Maritimes: Local, Seasonal Recipes the Whole Year Round and writes regularly for Canadian Farmers’ Almanac and the National Wildlife Federation. Elisabeth and her family live and enjoy great local food in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia.