Should Community College Students Earn an Associate Degree Before Transferring to a Four-Year Institution?
This paper answers the following question: Are community college students who earn an associate degree before transferring to a four-year college more likely to earn a bachelor’s degree? Using data on students in one state who entered community college and then transferred, the author finds positive impacts of earning the transfer-oriented (e.g., Associate in Arts) associate degree on the probability of earning a bachelor’s degree within four, five, and six years. However, there is no impact associated with earning one of the workforce-oriented (e.g., Associate in Applied Science) degrees that are awarded by programs typically designed for direct labor market entry. This is an important distinction, as all associate degrees are not equal in their potential impacts on future baccalaureate completion.