Research Brief by Adam Atwell and Mark D’Amico Examines the Baccalaureate Completion of Associate in Applied Science Transfers

College Graduates

In a new research brief, authors Adam K. Atwell, Ed.D. and Mark M. D’Amico, Ph.D. study the baccalaureate completion of 11,770 transfer students who earned a single Associate in Applied Science (AAS) degree from a North Carolina community college from 2002-2015 and transferred to a University of North Carolina System (UNC System) institution. The authors found that, while cumulative university GPA was essentially the same across age, race/ethnicity, and Pell receipt status, “descriptive findings suggested that students 25 and older, students experiencing financial need, and students of color are experiencing systemic barriers to baccalaureate completion.”

Key points:

  • An average graduation rate of 62% for AAS transfers suggests that AAS completers can and do earn the baccalaureate.
  • The AAS population consists largely of adult students, with 75% of the sample aged 25 or older. Students who were 25 or older had a lower baccalaureate completion rate than younger students.
  • Around one quarter of the sample were students of color. Potentially indicative of systemic barriers to completion, students of color had lower baccalaureate completion rates and a higher percentage of Pell receipt than white students.

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About the Authors:

Adam K. Atwell: Adam graduated from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte with an Ed.D. in Educational Leadership with a concentration in Higher Education and a Graduate Certificate in Quantitative Analyses. He currently serves as the Director of Assessment at Mitchell Community College.

Mark M. D’Amico, Ph.D.: Mark is a Professor of Higher Education at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

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