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Publications Detail Study of Six States' Unique Approaches to Applied Baccalaureate

by The College of Education / Jun 23, 2011

The Office of Community College Research and Leadership (OCCRL), housed in the College of Education at the University of Illinois, announces the release of two new publications pertaining to the applied baccalaureate degree. These publications are released as part of a research project, entitled "The Adult Learner and the Applied Baccalaureate," which is funded by Lumina Foundation for Education in Indianapolis, Indiana. This project examined the extent to which applied baccalaureate degrees were offered nationally and explored the state and institutional policy contexts surrounding the creation of these degrees. This project officially concluded April 2011.

The project is led by Dr. Debra D. Bragg, professor of higher education in the College of Education's Department of Education Policy Organization and Leadership and director of OCCRL. Also involved is Collin M. Ruud, graduate research assistant at OCCRL.

The primary publication released by OCCRL is the final report to Lumina, "The Adult Learner and the Applied Baccalaureate: Lessons from Six States." It details the case study research in states with unique approaches to applied baccalaureate degrees. The re- port features interviews and analysis from institutional officials, state administrators, faculty, and students.

"Our research was able to find a number of important findings," said Bragg. "Foremost among them is that we have found a lot of growth in both the number of programs and the number of students enrolling in them. While we don't have national-level data on the success of these programs or the outcomes of applied baccalaureate degree graduates, we do see many state and institutional administrators pointing to these degrees as one way to facilitate transfer, address the needs of working adults, and to encourage economic growth."

During the case study research, OCCRL staff also facilitated a convening on applied baccalaureate degrees, sponsored by Lumina, which took place on September 1-2, 2010 in Indianapolis. This convening brought together state and national policy makers, institutional administrators, workforce and higher education researchers, regional accrediting bodies, and other applied baccalaureate stakeholders to discuss the degrees and some of the major issues that have emerged.

To highlight some of the most notable discussions that occurred during the convening, OCCRL has also released a convening paper, entitled "The Applied Baccalaureate: What We Know, What We Learned, and What We Need to Know." This paper discusses the larger context surrounding applied baccalaureate degrees, including the definition and expectations of a baccalaureate degree, the role of outcomes assessment in credentialing, and the unique approach to accrediting applied baccalaureate degrees, particularly in community colleges.

Lumina Foundation for Education was established in 2000, and, according to its website, "Lumina Foundation strives to help people achieve their potential by expanding access to and success in education beyond high school." The Foundation funds research projects, policy initiatives, and national convenings in a variety of topics, including adult learners, community colleges, and others. Lumina's overarching "Goal 2025" is to "increase the proportion of Americans with high-quality degrees and credentials to 60 percent by the year 2025."