Do Associate Degrees lead to Higher-Level Credentials?
Associate Degrees by the Numbers
In the only national-level study of its kind, the National Student Clearinghouse® Research Center™ examined whether undergraduate certificates and associate degrees lead to higher-level credentials.
The Research Center looked at the degree attainment of students who earned their first postsecondary credentials in 2008-09 and found the following:
- Over 60 percent of students who earned associate degrees when they were 20 years old or younger earned a bachelor’s within six years, the highest of any age group.
- Men outpaced women in earning their bachelor’s: 42.1 percent to 40.8 percent.
- On average, the number of years from associate to bachelor’s degree completion was 2.8.
- Of students whose first postsecondary credential was a certificate, one in four received an associate or bachelor’s degree within six years.
- Almost 31 percent of students who were 20 to 24 years old when they earned the certificate went on to receive an associate or bachelor’s, exceeding that of other age groups. In this category, women outpaced men with nearly 29 percent of women earning a higher-level credential versus 22.5 percent of men.
- On average, it took 2.1 years to go from certificate to associate degree, and 3.4 years to go from certificate to bachelor’s degree.
“These first credentials are increasingly the entry points of choice for disadvantaged and first-generation college students, making them important to questions of equity in postsecondary degree attainment.”
Executive Research Director of the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center
“Measuring the extent to which certificates and associates degrees serve as stepping stones to higher educational awards is critical to understanding today’s educational pathways,” according to Doug Shapiro, Executive Research Director of the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. “These first credentials are increasingly the entry points of choice for disadvantaged and first-generation college students, making them important to questions of equity in postsecondary degree attainment.”
Analysis is based on credentials reported to the Clearinghouse DegreeVerify℠ service.
Percentage of Students Earning Associate Degree as a First Credential Who Subsequently Earned a Bachelor’s Degree
Over 60 percent of students who earned associate degrees at 20 years of age or younger went on to earn bachelor’s degrees within six years, the highest percentage of any age group.