Date of Award

Fall 2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Foundations & Leadership

Committee Director

Alan M. Schwitzer

Committee Member

Peter B. Baker

Committee Member

Mitchell R. Williams


Dual enrollment has become nearly ubiquitous in the U.S. with 82% of public high schools offering dual credit courses with student enrollment topping two million (Borden, Taylor, Park, & Seiler, 2013). Policymakers and proponents of dual enrollment have claimed that these programs better prepare students for college success and reduce the time and cost to a college degree. There is a growing body of empirical research showing that students who participated in dual enrollment programs completed bachelor’s degrees at higher rates than non-dual enrollment participants do. However, most of this research has focused on single institutions or states, and not nationally representative samples.

This causal comparative study used ex post facto data from the Beginning Postsecondary Students Longitudinal Study (BPS: 04/09) to address the benefits of bachelor’s degree attainment, shortened time to degree, and reduced cost of a degree attributed to dual enrollment. This study was limited to students who began their postsecondary studies at public community colleges with the intent to complete a bachelor’s degree. The researcher employed propensity score matching to improve comparability of study outcomes between dual enrollment and non-dual enrollment participants.

Conclusively determining how or why dual enrollment programs impact students is challenging. This study drew from two socialization theories—anticipatory socialization and validation theory. In accordance with these theories, this study found statistical and practical significance linking dual enrollment participation to increased bachelor’s degree attainment. Dual enrollment participants were also statistically significantly more likely to experience a shorter time to degree and lower costs as measured by student loans than non-participants were. The effect sizes, however, for the time to degree and cost of a degree models were modest at best and not overly persuasive.