In the 2015-16 academic year, 49 percent of all students who completed a bachelor’s degree at a four-year institution had been enrolled at a two-year public institution at some point in the previous 10 years.

The Role of Two-Year Institutions in Bachelor’s Attainment

In the 2015-16 academic year, 49 percent of all students who completed a bachelor’s degree at a four-year institution had been enrolled at a two-year public institution at some point in the previous 10 years. The prior enrollment at a two-year public institution may have been brief, for as little as a single course, and the two-year institution may or may not have been the first institution the student attended. As shown on the third page of this snapshot, 22 percent were enrolled in two-year public institutions for only one term. In 20 states, more than half of the 2015-16 bachelor’s degree earners at four-year institutions had been enrolled at a two-year public institution in the previous ten years. A state-level data table in Excel format is available for download at /snapshotreport-twoyearcontributionfouryearcompletions26.

The states in the map represent the states in which bachelor’s degrees were awarded. In this analysis, baccalaureate-granting institutions that predominantly award associate degrees (at least 55 percent of the undergraduate degrees awarded are associate degrees) are classified as two-year institutions. As such, enrollments at these institutions count in the numerator, but bachelor’s degrees awarded by them do not count in the denominator. Alaska and D.C. are labeled N/A on this map because the two-year public institutions in those two areas report data to the Clearinghouse under the same institutional profile as four-year public institutions.

Recency of Two-Year Public Enrollment

Forty-nine percent of all 2015-16 bachelor’s degree earners at four-year institutions had been enrolled at a two-year public institution at some point in the previous 10 years. About half of these students (49 percent) earned their bachelor’s degree within three years of having been enrolled at a two-year
public institution.

Duration of Two-Year Public Enrollment

Forty-nine percent of all 2015-16 bachelor’s degree earners at four-year institutions had been enrolled at a two-year public institution at some point in the previous 10 years. Almost two-thirds of these students (63 percent) were enrolled in two-year public institutions for three or more terms.