Over 60 percent of students transferring from a two-year college go on to complete four-year degrees

Lauren Williams's picture
Monday, August 12, 2013

Community colleges play an increasingly important role for students on the way to a baccalaureate degree, and this pathway is very successful for those who transfer. More than 60 percent of students who transferred from two-year schools in the 2005-2006 academic year obtained degrees at four-year institutions. Another eight percent remained in college and were still working on a four-year degree six years after transfer. These are the findings of the National Student Clearinghouse™ Research Center® in their latest Signature Report, "Baccalaureate Attainment: A National View of the Postsecondary Outcomes of Students Who Transfer from Two-Year to Four-Year Institutions."

The report is based on student-level data made available to the Clearinghouse by its more than 3,500 participating colleges and universities, including 98 percent of students attending public and private nonprofit postsecondary institutions. Studying six-year outcomes of students who transferred during the 2005-2006 academic year, the report also found that:

  • Most students transfer from two- to four-year institutions without first receiving a credential from the two-year institution, which is consistent with findings from previous Signature Reports.
  • Baccalaureate attainment rates were higher for students who transferred with a two-year degree or certificate (72%) than for those who transferred without a credential (56%).
  • Students transferring to a four-year public institution had a 65 percent completion rate compared to a 60 percent completion rate for those transferring to a four-year private institution.
  • The gap in the six-year completion rate was large (26 percentage points) between students who transferred to a four-year institution within one year of their most recent enrollment at a two-year institution and students who transferred after stopping-out for more than one year.
  • There is a negligible difference (less than 2%) in completion after transfer between women and men.
  • Students attending full time after transfer had a better chance of graduating than those who attended part time or with mixed enrollment (83 percent, 24.8 percent, and 62.1 percent, respectively).

The report also looks at the transfer students' destination institution using the Carnegie Basic Classification, which classifies institutions by the highest degree type awarded. Most two- to four-year transfer students went to a Master's (50%) or Research/Doctoral Granting (40%) institution.

The report also compares students transferring into four-year institutions from a two-year institution to those who started at four-year institutions. After eight years, the transfer students who started at a two-year institution and subsequently transferred completed at the rate of 73.5 percent, while those who began at a four-year institution completed at a rate of 63.2 percent.

"The results will help students, institutions and policymakers to better understand the different pathways to college success," stated Dr. Doug Shapiro, Executive Director, National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. "The majority of students who transfer from a two- year to a four-year institution are successful, but pre-transfer degrees, destination institutions, timing of transfer, and enrollment intensity are all important factors in completion."

"The report shows that most students who transfer do earn a bachelor's degree and the data suggest that students who complete a degree at the community college are more likely to earn a bachelor's degree than the thousands of students who transfer before completing their community college degree (a result consistent with new research completed at the Community College Research Center)," according to Thomas Bailey, George and Abby O'Neill Professor of Economics of Education and the Director of the Community College Research Center, Teachers College, Columbia University,  "This Signature Report again demonstrates the tremendous value of the Clearinghouse data for understanding the increasingly complex pathways of today's college students."

About the National Student Clearinghouse
The National Student Clearinghouse (a nonprofit formed in 1993) is the trusted source for and leading provider of higher education verifications and electronic education record exchanges, handling more than 700 million verification requests and 250 million education record exchanges annually. The Clearinghouse serves as a single point of contact for the collection and timely exchange of accurate and comprehensive enrollment, degree, and certificate records on behalf of its more than 3,500 participating higher education institutions, which represent 98 percent of all students in public and private U.S. institutions. The Clearinghouse also provides thousands of high schools and districts with continuing collegiate enrollment, progression, and completion statistics on their alumni.

Through its verification, electronic exchange, and reporting services, the Clearinghouse saves the education community cumulatively more than 400 million dollars annually. Most Clearinghouse services are provided to colleges and universities at little or no charge, including enhanced transcript and research services, enabling institutions to redistribute limited staff and budget resources to more important student service efforts. Clearinghouse services are designed to facilitate an institution's compliance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, The Higher Education Act, and other applicable laws.

In addition, the Clearinghouse provides accurate, timely enrollment and degree verifications to student loan providers, employers, student credit issuers, the U.S. Department of Education, and others who access its registry more than half a billion times annually.

For more information, visit www.studentclearinghouse.org.

About the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center
The National Student Clearinghouse Research Center is the research arm of the National Student Clearinghouse. The Research Center collaborates with higher education institutions, states, school districts, high schools, and educational organizations as part of a national effort to better inform education leaders and policymakers. Through accurate longitudinal data outcomes reporting, the Research Center enables better educational policy decisions leading to improved student outcomes.

To learn more, visit http://research.studentclearinghouse.org.