SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) — Two Missouri community colleges have been given permission to become the first in the state to offer a four-year bachelor’s degree program.

The Missouri’s Coordinating Board for Higher Education on Wednesday approved plans for Ozarks Technical Community College in Springfield and St. Louis Community College to offer bachelor’s degree programs in respiratory therapy.

The proposal must still be approved by the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care and the Higher Learning Commission, The Springfield News-Leader reported.

A state law passed in 2018 allowed community colleges to grant bachelor’s degrees in cases where the “level of education required in a field for accreditation or licensure increases to the baccalaureate level.”

Wednesday’s decision is the first time the law has been used.

The American Association of Respiratory Care, which accredits programs, has a goal to require a bachelor’s degree for entry into the profession by 2030.

Tracy McGrady, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs at Ozark Technical, said hospitals in the area have “been kind of beating down the door” for respiratory therapists.

“As a community college, our mission is to serve our community and we haven’t been able to do that in this area,” she said.