A new report by the UCLA Civil Rights Project/Proyecto Derechos Civiles argues for the strategic expansion of baccalaureate degree programs at California’s community colleges. The report’s authors write that such programs are “potentially the best vehicle to transform who accesses and succeeds in California’s higher education and labor market.”

“In the 60 years since the establishment of the California Master Plan for Higher Education, the system has become increasingly stratified, with largely white, Asian and more affluent students attending University of California and California State University campuses, while two-year colleges are mostly attended by lower-income students of color, far too few of whom have the opportunity to go on to attain four-year degrees,” said Patricia Gándara, a research professor at the UCLA School of Education & Information Studies and the co-director of the Civil Rights Project/Proyecto Derechos Civiles.

“The expansion of the community college baccalaureate programs offers a powerful tool for increasing the number of underrepresented students who attain bachelor degrees, and importantly, furthering educational racial equity and economic and social advancement.”

The report examines baccalaureate degree pilot programs at community colleges to analyze enrollment patterns and program outcomes, including student persistence, graduation and employment success after graduation. The outcomes are largely positive, the authors found.

Among the findings:

  • On average, 67% of students graduate within two years of the start of their taking upper-division courses, and 78% graduate within three.
  • The programs’ graduates have been successful in gaining employment for each of the past three years, and they report wage gains as a result of obtaining their baccalaureate degrees.

The researchers also reviewed community college baccalaureate programs in Washington and Florida, and determined that the practices and outcomes in those states underscore the potential for expansion in California.

Read more about the report on the Civil Rights Project/Proyecto Derechos Civiles website.