Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Lisa Abrams


Community colleges are an increasingly important component of the higher education systems in the United States. Community college as a pathway toward a better educated workforce has been emphasized at a national and state level. Virginia’s policy makers set a goal of producing 100,000 new baccalaureate degrees in the Commonwealth by 2025. Critical to meeting this goal is Virginia’s Community College System. In 2005, Virginia passed the Higher Education Restructuring Act which granted students graduating from Virginia’s community colleges with an associate’s guaranteed admission into any state-funded, four-year institution. Building on this earlier policy, Virginia passed The Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2011. This act expanded the role of the community college and placed a greater emphasis on articulation policies and baccalaureate attainment. The effectiveness of articulation policies on community college transfer and baccalaureate attainment has been debated in the academic literature. Some have suggested to measure policy effectiveness, academic outcomes and not transfer rates, must be compared before and after policy implementation. To gauge the effectiveness of Virginia’s guaranteed admission policy, this study examined archival student data for native and transfer students who achieved a junior standing at a single four-year state-funded institution. Furthermore, transfer student baccalaureate attainment rates and time to degree baccalaureate completion were compared before and after policy implementation. The study results showed native students graduated in greater percentages and have lower mean time to baccalaureate completion than transfer students; high school and college GPA are predictors of baccalaureate attainment for transfer and native students; transfer student baccalaureate attainment rates and mean time to baccalaureate completions were lower following policy implementation, or simply, fewer bachelor’s degrees were awarded but those completing a baccalaureate did so in less time after policy implementation. The findings of this study suggest transfer students with baccalaureate aspiration are negatively impacted for attending community college prior to transfer and Virginia’s articulation policy at the study institution had little impact on academic outcomes for transfer students following policy implementation. These single institutional results may suggest modification to Virginia’s articulation policy is necessary to improve academic outcomes for community college transfer students.


© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

May 2014

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Education Commons