Baccalaureate Attainment: A National View of Postsecondary Outcomes of Students Who Transfer from Two-Year to Four-Year Institutions

By Betsy Prueter

The National Student Clearinghouse Research Center recently released a report examining the role of community colleges in helping students earn a bachelor’s degree. The report shows that students who complete a credential at the community college level and then transfer to a four-year institution are more likely to earn a bachelor’s degree than students who transfer before earning a credential.

Among the report’s findings of students who transferred from a two-year to a four-year institution during the 2005-2006 academic year:

  • More than 60% of students who transferred from community colleges to four-year institutions in 2005-06 obtained degrees at four-year institutions within six years of transfer. Another 8% were still enrolled after six years.
  • About 70% of students transfer to a public four-year university from two-year colleges and 20% transfer to a private nonprofit institution and about 10% transfer to a for-profit institution.
  • Students who enrolled full time after transferring to a four-year institution earned their bachelor’s degree at a much higher rate (83% completed a degree within six years) than those who enrolled part time (25% completed their degrees) or who had mixed enrollment (62% completed their degrees after transfer).
  • Students who started at two-year institutions and transferred graduated at a rate of nearly 74%, while students who started at a four-year institution and transferred to another four-year institution graduated at a rate of just over 63% within eight years of transferring.
  • Bachelor’s degree attainments rates were higher for students who transferred with a two-year degree or certificate (72%) than for those who transferred without a degree (56%).