Community College Research Initiatives

November 18, 2019

Updating the national landscape: State adoption of community college baccalaureate degrees

CCRI Research Affiliate, Maria Claudia Soler, authors the third data note on the project Scaling Community College Baccalaureate Degrees: The Equity Imperative. The goal of this research is to examine degree-granting policies, institutional adoption and program implementation related to community college baccalaureate (CCB) degrees in the United States. Given the changing policy context across the nation, this data note provides an update on the current national landscape and offers additional information about CCB policy and program implementation. Trends in authorization of CCB degrees and implications for equity and diversity are also discussed.


Since the turn of the century, the organizational structure of community colleges has changed, mainly in response to the shifting needs of the communities they serve (Townsend & Dougherty, 2006; Vaughan, 2006). Transforming some elements of college curriculum and credentialing at the community college level by authorizing the conferral of baccalaureate degrees is one change that has been unfolding for the past three decades. Bachelor’s degrees offered by community and technical colleges eliminate a student’s need to transfer to a different institution to advance beyond the associate degree. These degrees have existed on a relatively modest level for many years, but recently they have begun to expand to more states. Understanding the prevalence of CCB policies and programs is central to the analysis our team is conducting on the expansion of different forms of baccalaureate degrees conferred at two-year and four-year institutions.

For more information about state policy adoption of CCB degrees, read the full data note below.

Download Data Note 3

Our Community College Research Initiatives (CCRI) group at the University of Washington has partnered with New America’s Center on Education and Skills (CESNA) to refresh and expand understanding of AB and CCB degrees nationally, looking again at state adoption and implementation of these degrees in the two- and four-year institutional contexts. With generous support from the Joyce Foundation and Lumina Foundation, our two-year project documents policies and processes; develops a set of consensus design principles and frameworks featuring evidence-based and equity-focused promising policies and practices on state adoption and institutional implementation; and disseminates lessons from past successes and failures.