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

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American Council on Education
Center for Policy Research and Strategy


This report is the third in a series of four that explore outcomes for recent high school graduates who begin their postsecondary education in a community college. Analyzing national data from the U.S. Department of Education’s Education Longitudinal Study (ELS) of 2002 and accompanying Postsecondary Education Transcript Study, this study examined the impact of earning an associate degree prior to transfer on the probability of earning a bachelor’s degree. In this study, all students began their postsecondary enrollment in a community college and transferred to a four-year institution. The results indicate that earning an associate degree prior to transfer neither increased nor decreased the likelihood of completing a bachelor’s degree.



bachelor degree, educational attainment, associate degree, community colleges