Community College Research Initiatives

New Baccalaureates

New forms of baccalaureate degrees (Applied Baccalaureates and Community College Baccalaureates) are emerging throughout the United States, many of which focus on new and emerging occupations associated with science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), career-technical education (CTE), and other fields of study. Many universities confer these degrees but increasingly they are conferred by community colleges that have historically awarded the associate’s degree as their highest credential. The CCRI group is grateful to the Joyce Foundation, National Science Foundation’s Advanced Technological Education program, and Lumina Foundation for their generous funding of this research and development work in this area.

Check out our latest project in this area, Scaling Community College Baccalaureate Degrees: The Equity Imperative, in the Data Notes below. Find past research in the publications section.

New Baccalaureate Data Notes

Data Note 2: The Community College Baccalaureate in Washington: Who Enrolls?
August 2019
When authorizing community colleges to offer baccalaureate degrees in 2007 the legislature intended for these degrees to serve students enrolled in professional-technical education. Data Note 2 explores the extent to which programs serve the intended population, how demographics relate to program enrollment, and enrollment shifts over time.

Data Note 1: The Evolving Landscape for New Baccalaureate Degrees
January 2019
This first Data Note on Scaling Community College Baccalaureate Degrees: The Equity Imperative research project provides baseline information on relatively new forms of baccalaureate degrees, reasons colleges adopt these degrees, and concerns identified for expanding these degrees to more states and postsecondary institutions.


Bragg, D. D., & Soler, M. C. (2017). Policy narratives on applied baccalaureate degrees: Implications for student access to and progression through college in the United States. Journal of Vocational and Technical Education, 69(1), 123-146.
Analyzing perspectives from four stakeholder groups on Applied Baccalaureate (AB) degrees the authors find common and some contrasting perspectives. They predict only compelling AB results will shift stakeholder groups to a consensus position.

Bragg, D. D., & Soler, M. C. (2016). Shining light on higher education’s newest baccalaureate degrees and the research needed to understand their impact. In X. Wang (Ed.), New Directions for Institutional Research, 170, 61-72.
Article presents research on Applied Baccalaureate (AB) degrees and discusses the missing methods and measures that need to be developed to conduct meaningful research on these degrees.

Outcomes Evaluation of Applied Baccalaureate Degree Programs in STEM and Technical Education
March 2016
Paper focuses on the need for high quality evaluations of Applied Baccalaureate (AB) degree programs. The report defines and explains outcomes evaluation and discusses its importance to understanding the implementation and impact of AB degrees.

Applied Baccalaureate Degrees in STEM and Technician Education: Program Implementation in Five Regions of the United States
October 2015
A collection of case studies wherein institutions offer community college baccalaureate (CCB) degrees and partnerships involving community colleges and universities that confer either or both associate of applied science (AAS) and applied baccalaureate (AB) degrees.

Investigating Applied Baccalaureate Degree Pathways in Technician Education
March 2012
Paper describes research that included surveys, website review, and document analysis to characterize AB degree pathways affiliated with National Science Foundation’s Advanced Technological Education (NSF-ATE) projects and centers. Paper provides insight into pathways in STEM fields and AB degree pathways that prepare technicians and technologists.

All or Nothing? Midpoint Credentials for Students Who Stop Short of the Baccalaureate Degree
November 2011
This small-scale study confirms that, for students for whom no credential emerges from college course-taking, even after acquiring a substantial amount of credits, college is an ―all or nothing‖ proposition.

The Adult Learner and the Applied Baccalaureate: Lessons from Six States
May 2011
The report describes a thematic analysis of AB degree policy and program degree implementation in six states in areas such as STEM, public service, business, and other areas, including liberal arts and sciences.

The Adult Learner and the Applied Baccalaureate: Emerging Lessons for State and Local Implementation
January 2009
The study reports on the status of applied baccalaureate (AB) programs in all 50 states offered by public associate degree-granting and traditional baccalaureate degree-granting colleges and universities.

The Adult Learner and the Applied Baccalaureate: National and State-by-State Inventory
October 2008
The report provides a state-by-state description of the extent to which the AB exists in public higher education institutions in the 50 states, with implications for federal, state, and local leaders and policymakers.

Attribution: Developed at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, through Office of Community College Research and Leadership – OCCRL at the College of Education. To download materials from the OCCRL website at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, use this link.

Copyright and permission notice: “Copyright 2000-2016 The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois.  All rights reserved.  For academic and research purposes only”.