In the fall of 2013, Tidewater Community College took an unprecedented step:

Inspired by a presentation at a retreat organized by Dr. Glenn DuBois, chancellor of the Virginia Community College System, we piloted an entire business degree using open-educational resources (OER). We call it the Z-Degree – z for “zero textbooks.” Not only business courses are included, but also all of the general education courses a student needs to complete the academic program. I believe the openly licensed and academically vetted materials will play a key role in reducing the overall cost of higher education and improve student learning. I invite you to learn more about TCC’s Z-Degree on this page.

- Edna V. Baehre-Kolovani, President, Tidewater Community College


with Tidewater Community College's A.S. Z-Degree in Business Administration


Cost Savings

Eases the burden of soaring textbook costs




Quick Access

Provides students immediate access to course materials

Learning Outcomes

Allows faculty to choose and align content that best achieves learning outcomes

Student Satisfaction

Improves student retention and satisfaction




Of course, the Z-Degree saves money. In fact, we estimate a student may save 25% on the total cost of the two-year associate degree in business administration by using open-educational resources instead of textbooks. But the true measures of effectiveness are better learning in the classroom and student success. Here are a few examples.














Lumen Learning: Supporting students to succeed with open education

Learn about the impact of Lumen Learning's unique approach to supporting institutions as they use open educational resources (OER) to improve the quality and affordability of education.

Watch the Video




Daniel DeMarte presents TCC's "Z-Degree" at #OpenVA in Virginia Beach

Daniel DeMarte, Vice President of Student Learning & CAO at Tidewater Community College, discusses TCC's textbook-free "Z-Degree" at the Building OpenVA event.

Watch the Video


  Interview: Summer Melt and the Z-Degree
Appearing on: With Good Reason
Textbooks alone can be prohibitively expensive in higher education. Now there’s the Z-Degree, the nation’s first accredited, entirely textbook-free degree program spearheaded by Linda Williams (Tidewater Community College).

  Interview: A Textbook-Free College
Appearing on: Innovation Hub
At hundreds of dollars each, college textbooks are becoming prohibitively expensive. Business administration professor Linda Williams and Ariel Diaz, founder and CEO of Boundless, are working to change that.


Z-Degree In The News

Open Textbooks: The Current State of Play (American Council on Education)
Community College Proves that Schools Don't Need Textbooks (Center for Digital Education)
Z as in Zero: Increasing College Access and Success through Zero-Textbook-Cost Degrees (Hewlett Foundation)
OpenCon: Students and Early-Career Researchers for Open Access, Open Education, and Open Data (Info Today)
Colleges Aim to Cut Textbook Costs (US News)
Reducing college costs could mean end of textbooks (
How to Save up to 70% on College Textbooks (Time)
College Textbooks Don't Need to Break the Bank: 10 Tips to Save You Money (Huffington Post)
How some colleges are offering free textbooks (CNN)
Tidewater Community College Associate Degree Using All OER Curriculum – Results After One Year (
Cost-Cutting College: Education's Future (CBN News)
Baehre-Kolovani: OER - A textbook case for reducing college costs (Richmond Times-Dispatch)
Z Degree: TCC's textbook answer (The Virginian-Pilot)
A textbook case of students not having enough money (The Virginian-Pilot)
Cutting Costs with a Textbook-free Degree at Tidewater Community College (edCetera)
Community college to offer textbook-free degree (Virginia Business)
How to Get a Degree Without Ever Paying for Textbooks (Slate) community_college_online_the_promise_of_zero_textbook_cost_degrees.html


The “Z-Degree”: Removing Textbook Costs as a Barrier to Student Success through an OER-Based Curriculum

  ABSTRACT - In August 2013, Tidewater Community College became the first regionally accredited college in the U.S. to pilot an Associate of Science degree that allows a student to expend $0 on textbooks. The combined efforts of a 13-member faculty team, staff and administration created what is now known as the “Z-Degree.”

View Presentation pdf


Dr. Daniel T. DeMarte
Vice President for Academic Affairs and Chief Academic Officer
  Ms. Linda S. Williams (Primary Student Contact)
Professor of Business Administration
  Dr. Kimberly M. Bovee
Director of Planning and Accountability


Use of Open Educational Resources
    This policy provides guidance to faculty utilizing Open Educational Resources (OER) at Tidewater Community College.

View Policy pdf