Date of Award

Winter 2009

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Foundations & Leadership


Community College Leadership

Committee Director

Alan M. Schwitzer

Committee Member

Molly H. Duggan

Committee Member

Kellie C. Sorey


Dual enrollment programs continue to grow in the United States; however, little empirical research examines the relationship between this high school experience and future college success and degree attainment. This study examines degree attainment for first-time beginning students who began their postsecondary education at a Virginia Community College during the fall semester, 2002. It follows those students for six years across all institutions attended, comparing degree attainment for two identified groups; students with dual enrollment credit earned prior to fall 2002 (dual enrolled students) and students with no prior dual credit (traditional students). It explores the differences that exist between the two independent samples in regards to attainment of a higher education award and the time it takes to earn a bachelor's degree. It also evaluates whether attainment of a higher education award differs significantly between dual enrollment students who completed identified mathematics and English gatekeeper courses and those who did not.

This non-experimental, retrospective study examined existing data from academic years 2000-01 through 2007-08. Enrollment data, higher education award earned, and demographic information was obtained from databases maintained by the Virginia Community College System (VCCS), State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV), and the National Student Clearinghouse. Data extracted from the VCCS Student Information System included gender; ethnicity; and dual enrollment courses completed. Higher education award data were obtained from the VCCS database, SCHEV, and the National Student Clearinghouse.

It was determined that dual enrollment participation can have many positive benefits for Virginia students. The results indicate that students with prior dual enrollment coursework had statistically significant higher rates of degree attainment and took a shorter time to complete a bachelor's degree. Completion of a gatekeeper course was also positively associated with bachelor's degree attainment.


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