Of all associate degrees reported to the Clearinghouse for the 2010-11 academic year, 575,067 were earned by students with no previous degrees or certificates. Within the next six academic years, 65.1 percent of these students enrolled at four-year institutions and 41.4 percent earned bachelor’s degrees.

Two in Five Associate Degrees Lead to Bachelor’s within Six Years

Of all associate degrees reported to the Clearinghouse for the 2010-11 academic year, 575,067 were earned by students with no previous degrees or certificates. Within the next six academic years, 65.1 percent of these students enrolled at four-year institutions and 41.4 percent earned bachelor’s degrees. The associate-to-bachelor’s pathway was most frequently completed by students in the 20 and under age group, with 61.5 percent earning a bachelor’s degree within six years. Women and men completed the associate-to-bachelor’s pathway at about the same rate. Analysis is based on degree records reported to the Clearinghouse through its DegreeVerify service. See last page of this report for more detailed information about the sample of postsecondary credentials included in this report.

Associate-to-Bachelor’s Took 2.8 Years on Average

Of the 2010-11 associate degree earners who went on to earn a bachelor’s degree, two-thirds did so within three years of earning their associate degree. The mean number of years from associate to bachelor’s degree completion was 2.8. Analysis is limited to bachelor’s degrees earned within six years of the associate award date. Calculation of mean time-to-degree excludes students taking longer than six years.

Certificate-to-Associate Pathway Most Common for Youngest Age Group

Of all undergraduate certificates reported to the Clearinghouse for the 2010-11 academic year, 264,013 were earned by students with no previous degrees or certificates. Within the next six academic years, 63.3 percent of these students enrolled for additional college courses and 26.7 percent earned an associate degree, bachelor’s degree, or both. One-third of all certificate earners in the 20 and under age group went on to earn an associate and/or bachelor’s degree, the highest percentage of any age group. About 30 percent of women who earned a certificate as their first credential went on to earn an associate or bachelor’s, compared to 24 percent of men.

Certificate-to-Associate Took 1.9 Years on Average

Of the 2010-11 certificate earners who went on to earn an associate degree, about 80 percent did so within three years of earning their certificate. The mean number of years from certificate to associate degree completion was 1.9. Of the 2010-11 certificate earners who went on to earn a bachelor’s degree, about 72 percent did so within four years of earning their certificate. The mean number of years from certificate to bachelor’s degree completion was 3.2. Analysis is limited to associate and bachelor’s degrees earned within six years of the certificate award date. Calculation of mean time-to-degree excludes students taking longer than six years. Students who earned both associate and bachelor’s degrees are counted in the distributions for both degree levels.

Additional Notes on the Data

Analysis in this report is based exclusively on credentials reported to the Clearinghouse through its DegreeVerify℠ service. This applies to both the first postsecondary credential earned, as well as subsequent associate and bachelor’s degrees. Results are not adjusted to account for DegreeVerify participation rates.

The National Student Clearinghouse Research Center has estimated that credentials being reported through the DegreeVerify service account for 79 percent of all educational certificates awarded by U.S. Title IV degree-granting institutions, 87 percent of associate degrees, and 97 percent of bachelor’s degrees. These estimates are based on IPEDS counts of postsecondary credentials for all such institutions. It should be noted that many certificates are also awarded by institutions classified by IPEDS as non-degree-granting, but these institutions generally do not participate in Clearinghouse services.

Analysis of subsequent associate and bachelor’s degrees is limited to degrees earned within six years of the student’s first postsecondary credential. Therefore, calculation of mean time-to-degree excludes students who will eventually earn credentials in seven years or longer. Including these students would increase the mean time to subsequent degree.

Community Colleges Outcomes Report

The Role of Community Colleges in Postsecondary Success

The Community Colleges Outcomes Report, “The Role of Community Colleges in Postsecondary Success,” provides recent report findings from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center on two-year colleges. Key community college metrics are provided for three areas — college access and persistence, transfer and mobility, and certificate and degree completion – which are important indicators of community college progress.