Date Approved


Embargo Period


Document Type


Degree Name

EdD Educational Leadership (Doctor of Education)


Educational Services and Leadership


College of Education


Kerrigan, Monica Reid

Committee Member 1

Nespoli, Lawrence A.

Committee Member 2

Cho, Sung-Woo


community college, grit, propensity score matching, reverse transfer


Community college students; Degrees, Academic


Higher Education


Many students who enter a community college expect to transfer and earn a bachelor's degree, yet many are unable to do so largely because of inefficiencies in the transfer of earned credits. Prior research has shown that students who leave community college with an associate degree are more likely to complete bachelor's degrees. However, this has not been situated within the context of reverse transfer, which allows former community college students enrolled at four-year institutions to transfer their credits back in order to retroactively earn an associate degree. This study uses propensity score matching to compare the six-year bachelor's degree completion rates of two groups of students at a single community college: associate degree completers and reverse transfer eligible students who transferred to four-year institutions after earning between 60 and 90 degree credits, but no associate degree. Reverse transfer eligible students were more likely to be enrolled in Associate of Science degree programs, and they were also lower in grit, which is a measure of persistence in achieving long-term goals. Results of this study show that associate degree completers are significantly more likely to earn bachelor's degrees in six years when compared to a matched group of reverse transfer eligible students.