Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Human Resource Education and Workforce Development

Document Type



Little research has been done to examine how the awarding of bachelor’s degrees, by community colleges, influences the traditional associate degree-granting role of these institutions. This quantitative study investigates the impact of this change on the community colleges that have been allowed to award bachelor’s degrees, examining how this change affects the traditional associate degree granting output of these institutions. The population for this study is all public community colleges in the United States that offer associate degrees, including those awarding bachelor’s degrees. A data query was used to collect the data for this study from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) database. In the full sample, there was a correlation between the number of associate degrees awarded and whether a bachelor’s degree was offered. Schools that offered bachelor’s degrees tended to have higher numbers of associate degrees awarded. In the subsample of schools that offered bachelor’s degrees, there was a moderate positive correlation between the number of bachelor and associate degrees awarded. The number of associate degrees awarded was undiminished by the initiation of a bachelor’s degree program at two-year schools. As such, this study may indicate successful higher education marketplace competition, with community colleges evolving to offer bachelor’s degrees while successfully continuing their traditional associate degree-granting role. This study indicates that the awarding of associate and bachelor’s degrees is not mutually exclusive. The one can be conducive to the other. A successful synergy can be established. The community college bachelor’s may make sense as a competitive, market driven response to a societal need. Public community colleges that began to offer, over the last ten years, a four-year baccalaureate degree to meet higher education needs, in addition to the traditional two-year associate degree, are accomplishing this dual mission effectively. This conclusion is supported by the findings of this study and facts in the published literature. More states need to allow community colleges to offer bachelor’s degrees. In this way, the legislatures could recognize the reality of the educational and economic development needs of place-bound, non-traditional students who have increased the demand for localized bachelor’s degree programs.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Verma, Satish