New Report Examines the Relationship Between Earning an Associate Degree and Bachelor’s Degree Completion
March 14, 2018

​A new report (2 MB PDF) published by ACE’s Center for Policy Research and Strategy (CPRS) shows that earning an associate degree prior to transferring to a four-year institution for recent high school graduates neither increased nor decreased their likelihood of completing a bachelor’s degree. However, the report suggests prospective transfer students may still want to consider completing an associate degree first and offers recommendations for policy and practice to increase degree attainment.

The Impact of Earning an Associate Degree Prior to Transfer on Bachelor’s Degree Completion: ​A Look at Recent High School Graduates reveals that earning a strong GPA while enrolled in community college and the control and selectivity of the four-year institutions students transferred to were among the strongest predictors of bachelor’s degree attainment.

The research, presented this week at ACE2018​, ACE’s 100th Annual Meeting, was supported by Hobsons, a leader in education technology.

The research brief is the third installment in a four-part series examining the educational journeys of high school graduates who enroll in community college directly after high school. The research project analyzes data from the Education Longitudinal Study of 2002 (ELS), a nationally representative study of students who began 10th grade in 2002 and were tracked over a 10-year period.

“Recent studies have estimated that roughly four out of five community college students say they plan to earn a bachelor’s degree, yet only one in 10 do within six years of entering college,” said Jonathan Turk, senior policy research analyst at CPRS. “This research aims to provide some additional insights into the factors that increase the likelihood of bachelor’s degree attainment for beginning community college students.” 

“We know that a large and increasing number of students are enrolling in multiple colleges and universities during their postsecondary careers,” said Kate Cassino, CEO at Hobsons. “This research, and our ongoing partnership with ACE, is an important part of Hobsons’ efforts to support higher education in building the pathways we know are essential to improving student goal attainment.”

Download the full report here. To read the first two briefs in the series, see:

Identifying Predictors of Credential Completion Among Beginning Community College Students (4 MB PDF)

Improving the Odds: An Empirical Look at the Factors That Influence Upward Transfer​ (18 MB PDF)