Study Snapshot: Competing for Bachelor’s Degrees: Are Community Colleges Cutting into the Market Share of Four-Year Institutions?
 
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For Immediate Release: April 16, 2018

Tony Pals, tpals@aera.net
(202) 238-3235, (202) 288-9333 (cell)

Collin Boylin, cboylin@aera.net
(202) 238-3233, (860) 490-8326 (cell)

Study Snapshot: Competing for Bachelor’s Degrees: Are Community Colleges Cutting into the Market Share of Four-Year Institutions?

Study: “Competing for Bachelor’s Degrees: Are Community Colleges Cutting into the Market Share of Four-Year Institutions?”   
Authors: Jacqueline Donovan (University of Florida), Dennis Allan Kramer (University of Florida), and Justin C. Ortagus (University of Florida)

This study will be presented at the 2018 AERA Annual Meeting  
Date/Time: Monday, April 16, 12:25 p.m. to 1:55 p.m.


Main Finding:


  • Giving community colleges the authority to create bachelor degree programs in Florida did not significantly impact bachelor degree production in similar programs at local four-year public or private nonprofit institutions. However, the adoption of bachelor’ degree programs at community colleges did appear to reduce bachelor’s degree production in similar programs at local for-profit institutions.

Details:

  • In response to growing national demand for bachelor’s degrees, many states have authorized community colleges to confer bachelor’s degrees, particularly in high-demand programs. The number of bachelor’s degrees conferred at community colleges nationwide has increased from 1,690 in 2000 to 17,035 in 2014.
  • By the end of 2014, a total of 23 states had allowed community colleges to award bachelor’s degrees. The authors focused on Florida, as the prevalence of bachelor’s degree programs within the state’s community college system makes it a compelling case study. As of 2014, 24 of Florida’s community colleges had adopted at least one baccalaureate degree program.
  • For their study, the authors increased the precision of the competition estimates by examining program-level degree outcomes rather than institution-level outcomes. This is particularly important given that community college baccalaureate (CCB) programs in Florida targeted a subset of degree programs.
  • The authors found that giving community colleges the authority to create bachelor’s degree programs in Florida did not significantly impact bachelor’s degree production in similar programs at local four-year public or private nonprofit private institutions. 
  • Programs at public four-year institutions with nearby CCB programs actually experienced an increase in degree production post-CCB adoption. The authors hypothesized this may have occurred through increases in transfer rates from CCB programs to nearby public four-year institutions. They did not find similar increases at private nonprofit institutions. The authors note this may be due to large differences in prices between private nonprofit institutions and community colleges.
  • However, the authors found suggestive evidence that the adoption of community college baccalaureate (CCB) programs creates a substitution between community colleges and four-year for-profit institutions.
  • The authors’ initial results provide the first known estimates of the impact of CCB adoption on four-year institutions’ bachelor’s degree production.
  • “While critics argue that the adoption of CCB will diminish the market share of public and private nonprofit four-year institutions, our results fail to substantiate that claim,” said study co-author Dennis Kramer, an assistant professor and director of the Education Policy Research Center at the University of Florida. “Overall, we find that bachelor’s degree programs at for-profit institutions may be negatively impacted by the presence of similar programs at community colleges, but public four-year institution programs may actually benefit from the presence of a local CCB program.”

To request a copy of the full paper, or to talk to study authors, please contact AERA Communications: Tony Pals, Director of Communications, tpals@aera.net, cell: (202) 288-9333; Collin Boylin, Communications Associate, cboylin@aera.net, cell: (860) 490-8326

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The American Educational Research Association (AERA) is the largest national interdisciplinary research association devoted to the scientific study of education and learning. Founded in 1916, AERA advances knowledge about education, encourages scholarly inquiry related to education, and promotes the use of research to improve education and serve the public good. Find AERA on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

 
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