Study: Transfer Students with Credentials More Likely to Complete 4-Year Degree

Students who transfer from a two-year college to a four-year college after earning their associate’s degree are more likely to go on to earn their bachelor’s degree than students who transfer without earning their credentials, according to a recent study.


A report from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, entitled ‘Baccalaureate Attainment: A National View of the Postsecondary Outcomes of Students Who Transfer from Two-Year to Four-Year Institutions,’ found that students who transfer with credentials are 16 percent more likely to earn their bachelor’s degree; 72 percent of students who transfer with credentials receive their bachelor’s degree while only 56 percent of those who transfer without credentials earn their four-year degree.

“Moreover, strong equity implications lie in the outcomes of two-year to four-year transfer students because of the overrepresentation of low-income students and students of color in two-year institutions,” the report says.

An article from the Chronicle of Higher Education quotes the report, saying, “While questions certainly remain about equitable access to a bachelor’s degree for students who enter two-year institutions,” the report says, “the majority of students who transfer are successful in pursuing a four-year degree.”

The odds of a two-year college transfer student earning their bachelor’s degree continue to increase if the student attends full time (58 percent more likely than if part time), transfers to a public institution (5 percent more likely than at a private institution), or transfers within a year of obtaining their associate’s degree. This report is based on six-year outcomes from transfer students during the 2005-2006 academic year.

“And the authors cautioned that starting at a two-year college and transferring does not necessarily increase a student’s odds of graduating,” according the Chronicle article. “The transfer students the researchers tracked were a select group who changed colleges without taking time off and probably had more momentum than the typical student,” the report says.

The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation is helping to increase the number of two-year college transfer students who go on to earn their bachelor’s degree with the Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship Program. Each year, the Foundation awards up to $30,000 per year for up to three years to approximately 75 students who transfer from two-year to four-year colleges. This scholarship is the largest private scholarship for two-year and community college transfer students in the country. The next application opens in September 2014.