Z Degree

What is it?

The Z Degree or “Zero-Textbook-Cost Degree” is exactly what it sounds like. Students are able to complete an Associates degree from MCC without paying for textbooks. The classes included in this degree leverage Open Educational Resources, library databases, and faculty-developed content to forgo the need to require expensive textbooks and publisher materials.  Currently, we are only building this degree as an online degree.

How do you get involved?

Whether you are already teaching a class without a textbook or you’re interested in dumping your textbook to curate and/or create your own content, we would like to include you in our efforts. The easiest way to determine “where you fit” in our Z Degree efforts is to contact Laura Ballard, eLearning Director: laura.ballard@mesacc.edu.  Or you can read on to learn more about the program.


We are currently funding courses that are already taught online and contribute to the Arizona General Education Curriculum (AGEC). We are willing to expand beyond the AGEC into elective courses if a good case is made.

Spring 2018 Z Degree Awardees

  • RDG 100 — Anthony Griffith & Lorane Barrera
  • CRE 101 — Annah Mcmahon, Marji Young & Ontonio Ballard
  • GPH 113 — Erin Saffell
  • ASM 104 — Annalisa Alvrus
  • IFS 201 — Megan McGuire
  • COM 110 — Jennifer Townsley
  • COM 263 — Christine Beckman

In Pilot Spring 2018

[Fall 2017 Funded Courses – first Z Degree funded courses]

  • BIO 100 — Nicola Plowes
  • ENG 101 — Leanna Hall & Stacy Wilson
  • ENG 102 — Alex Arreguin, Micheal Callaway &  Lupco Spasovski
  • CIS 105 — Elliot Cherner
  • GIS 205 — Karen Blevins
  • MAT 12x — Melina Priewe, LeeAnna Misterek


Courses are eligible to receive a maximum of $3000 in funding per semester.  Individual faculty are eligible to receive $1500 in funding per semester.  Priority will be assigned to applications with more than one faculty member.  Because this is a two-semester project, a total of $6000 dollars is available is two or more faculty are involved.


Phase One/First Semester

  • Professional Development: Attend 10 hours of professional development related to OER and course development (6 hours are required to take place in the MCC Center for Teaching & Learning
  • Canvas & MCC eLearning Expectations: Develop course within Canvas using the college eLearning Expectations
  • Course Shell Access: Add Z Degree Coordinator, Laura Ballard to the Canvas shell
  • Mid-point Reflection: Project mid-point status (required for the eVenture project)
  • Coordinator Meetings: Meet with Z Degree Coordinator, Laura Ballard each month to review progress and discuss issues/ask questions.
  • Project Showcase: Participate in the “project showcase”

Phase Two/ Second Semester

  • Pilot Course: Teach the course and make revisions
  • QM Self Review: Conduct and submit a Quality Matters (QM) Self Review of the course
  • QM Training: (Optional) Attend available course design workshops: Quality Quest training for QM design (offered online and in-person)
  • Internal QM Review: Add Z Degree Reviewers to the pilot course for an internal QM review
  • Revise: Discuss and apply revisions in partnership with Z Degree Reviewers



Faculty/Teams interested in applying for funding to develop Z Degree courses should apply through the CTL eVenture program and make sure to select the “Z Degree” option.  The next round of  Z Degree funding will happen in October — be on the look out for the announcement!

Why it’s important

The Zero Textbook Cost Degree at MCC is a result of numerous studies revealing that the rising costs of education impacts student attendance and course selection. Studies show that students make a decision to attend college, select a college major and/or select a class based upon the cost of attendance and the cost of course instructional materials. These studies created a case for the Maricopa Community Colleges to support the Maricopa Millions grant program. The purpose of this grant was to pay faculty to curate and/or develop Open Educational Resources for their courses that would replace expensive textbooks and save students $5 million dollars over 5 years. The Z Degree is MCC’s commitment to provide a more affordable education to our students.