Community College Research Initiatives

Transfer is critically important to U.S. higher education. Rising tuition costs, changes in the labor market, and other factors contribute to the transfer function being an increasingly important route through higher education for underserved students, including students of color and low-income and first-generation students. Using an equity lens, CCRI conducts research to understand transfer policies and practices relative to student experiences, perceptions, and outcomes. One major research initiative generously funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is our study on Higher-Performing Transfer Partnerships (HPTP).

Transfer Partnerships

The High-Performing Partnerships Study (HPTP) focuses on how higher performing transfer collaborations between two- and four-year colleges and universities (which may identify as partnerships) work on the ground. By higher performing, we refer to relationships between two- and four-year institutions that enroll higher proportions of historically underserved students who are achieving higher rates of success in baccalaureate retention and completion than other institutions in the study. Our mixed methods studies in states across the country examine ways in which two- and four-year institutions influence student success, and we disseminate our findings broadly in the academic, policy, and practical literature.

Learn more about the findings of our research in the data notes below.


Yeh, T. L., & Wetzstein, L. (2022). Institutional Partnerships for Transfer Student Success: An Examination of Catalysts and Barriers to Collaboration. Community College Review.

Yeh, T.L. and Wetzstein, L. (2020). A Continuum of Transfer Partnerships: Toward Intentional Collaborations to Improve Transfer Outcomes. New Directions for Community Colleges, 2020(192), 21-35. DOI:10.1002/cc.20420

Bragg, D. D., Yeh, T. L., Wetzstein, L., & Meza, E. A. (Eds.). (2020). Transfer Partnerships for Improved Equity and Outcomes. New Directions for Community Colleges. 2020(192), 5-9. San Francisco, CA: Jossey Bass. DOI: 10.1002/cc.20418

Data Notes

Data Note 11: Transfer partnerships – Lessons to improve student success during and after COVID-19

May 2020
This brief synthesizes themes from a larger body of research on transfer partnerships that focus on improving transfer student outcomes that are relevant to students during and in the aftermath of this pandemic.

Data Note 10: Identifying Effective and Equitable Institutions for Transfer Students: Exploring the Contribution of the Pair in Multilevel Models

February 2019
In Data Note 10, using multilevel modeling, we examine how two- and four-year institutions working in relationship with each other reveal outcomes for African American and Latinx students within the transfer process.

Data Note 9: Transfer Partnerships: The Importance of a Culture of Collaboration

January 2019
In Data Note 9, we more fully elucidate a construct described by an interviewee as a “culture of collaboration,” which we found in partnerships that demonstrated the highest level of collaboration.

Data Note 8: The Dynamic Nature of Transfer Partnerships: Catalysts and Barriers to Collaboration

January 2019
This data note draws upon qualitative findings to explore many of the factors and conditions that can impact the creation and sustainability of transfer partnerships.

Data Note 7: Exploring characteristics of students who demonstrate multi-institutional attendance patterns (MIAP) in two states

December 2018
Data Note 7 extends the research of Data Note 3 and uses MIAP as a unifying descriptor to capture transfer patterns other than the traditional vertical transfer pattern from community college to university.

Data Note 6: Recognizing Variation: A Typology of Transfer Partnerships

December 2018
This data note draws upon the study’s qualitative findings to describe the variety of transfer partnerships that exist and examines them through the lens of an organizational model of collaboration.

Data Note 5: State Policy and Its Impact on Collaboration to Promote Transfer in Minnesota

August 2018
In this data note, we present a case in which state-level higher education policy has evolved over time to increasingly encourage colleges and universities to work together to improve transfer outcomes.

Data Note 4: High-Performing Transfer Partnerships and Promising Practices

June 2018
Data Note 4 analyzes qualitative data from institutional pairs which are shifting from seeing themselves as operating singularly and separately in how they serve students and summarizing promising practices that support and maintain partnerships.

Data Note 3: Initial Research on Multi-Institutional Attendance Patterns and Racial Equity

March 2018
Data Note 3 finds that students who follow multi-institutional attendance patterns (i.e. “swirlers”) are more likely to be African American and students who both receive Pell grants and who have enrolled in remedial coursework are less likely to follow MIAP.

Data Note 2: Including Racial Equity as an Outcome Measure in Transfer Research

February 2018
Data Note 2 finds that high-performing transfer partnerships were almost exclusively pairs with high percentages of White students, none of the institutional pairs revealed equitable outcomes for transfer students of color compared to White transfer students.

Data Note 1: Introduction to the High-Performing Transfer Partnerships Study

January 2018
This document is the first in a series of data notes that share results from our High-Performing Transfer Partnerships study. It explains the research rationale and provides a brief overview of existing literature on transfer partnerships.