Z Degree

What is a Z Degree?

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 funding the development of online courses; however, if the content that is curated/developed is used in another modality, the course can be can be labeled a Z Course.

Savings of ZDegree

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/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 began advertising for the AGEC Z Degree pathway in Spring 2019. We will have the Communication Pathway developed by the end of Spring 2021. Preview some of our completed courses on the MCC Online Course Previews page.

Z Degree Awardees by Cohort

Cohort VI – Fall 2020

Cohort V – Fall 2019

Cohort IV – Spring 2019

  • SOC 101 — Mona Scott & Lilian Chavez
  • ASB 222 — Shereen Lerner & Kirk Costion
  • SBU 200 — Dan Piercy
  • COM 225 — Amber Green, Layne Owens-Goodman & Erin Rawson
  • MAT 141 — Adam Avilez, Terri Levine & Karen Appel
  • MAT 213 — Seth Daugherty

Cohort III – Fall 2018

  • GLG 110/111 — Kelli Wakefield
  • POS 110 — Brian Dille
  • REL 100 — Tom Shoemaker
  • MAT 08x — Jennifer Caldwell & Cynthia Franklin
  • MAT 09x — Melina Priewe
  • ASB 223 — Annalisa Alvrus

Cohort II – Spring 2018

  • 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 263 — Christine Beckman

Cohort I – Fall 2017

  • 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


Content Expert: This is a two semester development commitment. Content Expert faculty will be funded $1500 during the semester of development (a mid-point payment is made at 50% of work completion and a final payment will be made at completion of course development). The following pilot semester, they will be funded $750 to make revisions to the course once the revisions are complete.

Content Reviewer: In addition to the Content Expert faculty, a Content Reviewer will be funded $750 to peer review the course outline/map and provide feedback on the content of the course.

Our Expert Model Development Process


Phase One/First Semester

  • Professional Development: Attend initial kick-off/orientation meeting and if deemed necessary, learn more about OER and project management with Google Drive and Calendar. Later in the development process, faculty will receive personalized training on Cranium Cafe (online office hours and online instruction platform) and Brainfuse (online tutoring).
  • Expert Model Development Process: Work with your project manager/Instructional Designer (ID) to develop and share course content and media and meet weekly deliverables. [example weekly schedule]

Phase Two/ Second Semester

  • Pilot Course: Teach the course and make revisions
  • Project Showcase: Participate in the “project showcase”

Revision Cycle

eLearning will fund revisions every 18-24 months for the entire life cycle of the Z Course. Actual funding amount and revision personnel will vary depending on the need.


All Z Degree funded courses will have dual ownership (MCC/Department & Faculty). We will maintain an original copy of the course to maintain the versioning process.


Contact Laura Ballard laura.ballard@mesacc.edu, eLearning Director, to be considered for the Z Degree Program.

Why it’s important

Increase Access to contentThe 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.