Pierce College is one of only three community colleges in the nation offering a degree without textbook costs. This innovative program, named Pierce Open Pathway (or POP), is lead by Quill West, Pierce College’s Open Education Project Manager ( and 2015 Recipient of Open Education Consortium’s Excellence in Leadership Award), and is being offered through the Joint Base Lewis McChord campus. All credits in this university transfer degree directly transfer to all of Washington’s five public universities and The Evergreen State College. The program cuts textbook costs by replacing the course contents with free or openly available materials available online or in the college’s library.
With the ongoing rise in textbook costs, it’s a goal of West’s to present students with other options. Instructors in the program voluntarily participate and faculty from Pierce’s Puyallup and Fort Steilacoom campuses help review the open resources for quality and effectiveness. POP offers students a cost-saving transfer degree and instructors more freedom to customize their courses rather than build their courses around traditional textbooks.
Courses are offered through online and hybrid settings where students do some of the work online and some in the classroom. “This project is not just about cutting costs,” West said. “Students will also experience a little more freedom in pedagogy, because instructors are not limited to what the textbook provides.” POP courses are available now. Students interested in learning more about the program can visit Pierce College Advising.
*Pierce College Cascade Building image by Jeff Strockbine is used with his permission.