The Vertical Transfer Pipeline and Its Leaks: Tracking Students From Associate’s Programs to Bachelor’s Degrees


associate's degree
bachelor's degree

How to Cite

Gentsch, K., Oka, Y., Truelsch, S., & Logue, A. (2024). The Vertical Transfer Pipeline and Its Leaks: Tracking Students From Associate’s Programs to Bachelor’s Degrees. Journal of Postsecondary Student Success, 3(2), 18–55.


This longitudinal study of 17,455 students, the majority from underrepresented groups, investigated leaks in the vertical transfer pipeline from associate’s-degree program entry to bachelor’s-degree receipt. Investigated were both the size of the leaks and some associated variables. Pipeline progress examinations included quantification of early persistence, plus application to, enrollment and persistence in, and graduation from, bachelor’s programs. The examined associated variables included student demographic characteristics and possible pipeline leak malleable factors: academic preparation and performance and financial need. Overall, only 23% of the original cohort received a bachelor’s degree after eight years. In addition, this study is the first to identify and quantify the transfer melt leakage point (students accepted for vertical transfer who do not enroll in bachelor’s programs), and the first to have quantified transfer shock (a transfer-related decrease in GPA) in a large general cohort (shown by 16 percentage points of the cohort). Variables involving quicker degree progress (e.g., being exempt from remediation and enrolling full-time) were negatively associated with pipeline leaks. Together the results provide guidance for policymakers and practitioners regarding how to increase vertical transfer pipeline output and increase bachelor’s degrees by community college students, particularly those from underrepresented groups, thus increasing higher education equity.
Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Copyright (c) 2023 Kerstin Gentsch, Yoshiko Oka, Sarah Truelsch, A. W. Logue


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