Teachers College, Columbia University

Should Community College Students Earn an Associate Degree Before Transferring to a Four-Year Institution?

By Peter M. Crosta & Elizabeth M. Kopko

This paper investigates whether community college students who earn an associate degree before transferring to a four-year college are more likely to earn a bachelor’s degree than students who transfer without earning an associate degree. Using data on students in one state who entered community college and then transferred, the authors find large, positive apparent impacts of earning the transfer-oriented associate degree on the probability of earning a bachelor’s degree within four, five, and six years. They do not find any apparent impact associated with earning one of the workforce-oriented degrees that are awarded by programs typically designed for direct labor market entry.

A version of this paper appears in Research in Higher Education, vol. 57, no. 2.

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