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Humanities and Liberal Arts Education at Community College: How It Affects Transfer and Four-Year College Outcomes

Humanities and Liberal Arts Education at Community College: How It Affects Transfer and Four-Year College Outcomes

Using transcript-level data from two community college state systems and a nationally representative survey, this short report examines how course-taking in humanities and liberal arts at community colleges affects transfer and outcomes at four-year colleges.

Key findings

  • Transfer students typically complete only a few courses in humanities and liberal arts at community college before they transfer to a four-year college.
  • Grades in humanities and liberal arts courses at community colleges are a strong predictor of whether students transfer to a four-year college.
  • Grades these courses also strongly predict how well transfer students perform in humanities and liberal arts courses at a four-year college and how likely they are to complete a bachelor's degree.
  • The number of community college credits accumulated by students predicts four-year college transfer rates and outcomes, but the associations are weaker than for grades.
  • Community college course-taking and performance in humanities and liberal arts fields predicts transfer and four-year outcomes just as strongly as that in other fields. There is certainly no evidence that grades or number of credits earned in other community college courses are more predictive of outcomes at four-year colleges. Grades in humanities and liberal arts courses and courses in other fields are equally valid predictors.