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New Research: National and State Data on Certificates & Associate Degrees

Florida and Utah Lead the Nation, Based on Total Numbers and Percentage

HERNDON, VA, Aug. 8, 2017 — The National Student Clearinghouse® Research Center™ today released the Certificate/Associate Pathways Snapshot Report for all 50 states and the District of Columbia based on degrees awarded in 2010-11 that led to an associate or bachelor’s degree.

The report shows that of all associate degrees reported to the National Student Clearinghouse for the 2010-11 academic year, 575,067 were earned by students with no previous degrees or certificates. Within the next six academic years, 65 percent of these students enrolled at a four-year institution and 41 percent earned a bachelor’s degree.

“These numbers show the importance of associate degrees and certificates as access pathways leading to further degrees,” said Doug Shapiro, Executive Research Director of the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. “For students who cannot or choose not to start in a four-year institution, lower-cost, shorter-term credentials provide critical on-ramps to higher educational attainment.”

Students starting with an associate degree:

For those age 20 and under:      65,165 out of 106,009 students, or 61.5 percent, obtained their bachelor’s degree

For those age 20 to 24:                81,823 out of 186,201 students, or 43.9 percent, earned their bachelor’s degree

For those age 24 and older:       89,641 out of 279,815 students, or 32 percent, gained a bachelor’s degree

The average time to complete the bachelor’s was 2.8 additional years post-associate. However, for 15 percent of those who completed, it took more than four additional years.

Of all certificates reported to the Clearinghouse for the 2010-11 academic year, 264,013 were earned by students with no previous degrees or certificates. Within the next six academic years, 63 percent of these students enrolled in additional college courses and 27 percent earned a degree, either an associate (15.2 percent), a bachelor’s (8.1 percent), or both (3.5 percent).

Top 5 States Where Associate Degrees Awarded in 2010-11 Led to Bachelor’s, based on Total Numbers:

Florida:               29,651 out of 52,749

California:          23,306 out of 50,570

New York:          17,493 out of 40,409

Texas:                 16,757 out of 36,426

Illinois:               9,474 out of 20,851

Top 5 States Where Associate Degrees Awarded in 2010-11 Led to Bachelor’s Degrees, based on Percentages:

Utah:                    56.6% (4,586 out of 8,109)

Florida:               56.2% (29,651 out of 52,749)

New Jersey:       53.1% (7,269 out of 13,698)

Idaho:                  50.9% (1,289 out of 2,533)

Maryland:          48.9% (4,535 out of 9,279)

Colleges and universities are able to compare their students against this state and national benchmark data via the Clearinghouse’s StudentTracker® for Colleges and Universities service by running a cohort query report. For details, go to our StudentTracker site.

In March, the Research Center released Completing College: A State-Level View of Student Attainment Rates, which shows each state’s outcomes for students who started postsecondary education in fall 2010 at four‐year, public institutions; two‐year, public institutions; and four‐year, private, nonprofit institutions. The public and policymakers should also review our data addressing college persistence, transfer and mobility to see the bigger picture.

This new research was supported by a grant from the Lumina Foundation. The Lumina Foundation, an Indianapolis-based private foundation, is committed to enrolling and graduating more students from college — especially 21st century students: low-income students, students of color, first-generation students and adult learners. Lumina’s goal is to increase the percentage of Americans who hold high-quality degrees and credentials to 60 percent by 2025.

About the National Student Clearinghouse® Research Center

The National Student Clearinghouse Research Center is the research arm of the National Student Clearinghouse. The Research Center collaborates with higher education institutions, states, school districts, high schools, and educational organizations as part of a national effort to better inform education leaders and policymakers. Through accurate longitudinal data outcomes reporting, the Research Center enables better educational policy decisions leading to improved student outcomes. To learn more, visit https://nscresearchcenter.org.


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