Associate Degree Earners Are Earning More Money, Contributing More to Society, ACE Report Finds
March 04, 2019

A new research brief published by ACE highlights some of the key benefits to individuals, their families, and their communities of earning an associate degree. 

Overall, the brief, A Look at Five Key Outcomes in Early Adulthood for Associate Degree Earners, finds that after controlling for a number of factors, associate degree recipients are more likely to be employed and earn more money at their jobs, own a home, vote, and volunteer in their communities when compared to high school graduates who didn’t go to college. 

This research brief is the last in a four-part series exploring early outcomes for recent high school graduates who enroll in community colleges. The research project analyzes data from the Education Longitudinal Study of 2002, a nationally representative study of students who began 10th grade in 2002 and were tracked over a 10-year period conducted by the U.S. Department of Education. This series was supported by Hobsons, a leader in education technology.

“Too often the public discourse around the benefits of college is focused predominantly on bachelor’s degree earners, overlooking the value that associate degrees can provide,” said the report’s lead author Jonathan M. Turk, ACE’s associate director for research. “More work is needed to communicate the value of earning an associate degree to students and their families and to increase the number of students who complete associate degrees,” 

The report expands on two key recommendations:

  • High schools, with the support of postsecondary institutions, must do more to emphasize the economic benefits of associate degrees to students and their families.
  • More community colleges will need to implement new academic and student support models to increase associate degree completion rates.

Download the full report here (PDF). To read the first three briefs in the series, see:

Identifying Predictors of Credential Completion Among Beginning Community College Students (PDF)

Improving the Odds: An Empirical Look at the Factors That Influence Upward Transfer (PDF)

The Impact of Earning an Associate Degree Prior to Transfer on Bachelor’s Degree Completion: A Look at Recent High School Graduates (PDF)