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ERIC Number: ED504447
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2009-Jan
Pages: 7
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 25
The Adult Learner and the Applied Baccalaureate: Emerging Lessons for State and Local Implementation. In Brief
Bragg, Debra D.; Townsend, Barbara K.; Ruud, Collin M.
Office of Community College Research and Leadership
In the nation's changing economy, there is an increasing necessity for baccalaureate level education for jobs that have never before required that level of education. One potential solution to issues related to baccalaureate attainment and workforce development is the applied baccalaureate degree. Applied baccalaureate degrees have arisen from a number of convergent forces to provide a bachelor's degree option for participants in Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree or applied associate degree programs offered primarily in occupational-technical (or career-technical) education program areas. These degree programs represent a potentially important curriculum path to the baccalaureate for a significant number of postsecondary students. "The Adult Learner and the Applied Baccalaureate" project is designed to provide federal, state, and local educational leaders and policy makers with information about the applied baccalaureate degree in the United States. This policy brief draws upon results of a 50-state study to inventory applied baccalaureate degree programs. Using data obtained from telephone interviews with state officials, and from Web sites, reports, legislation, and other materials provided by the states, the authors describe the status of applied baccalaureate programs offered by public associate degree-granting and traditional baccalaureate degree-granting colleges and universities. The authors report steady growth in applied baccalaureate degrees since the first emerged in three public traditional baccalaureate degree-granting institutions in the 1970s. Six states were added in the decade of the 1980s, and nine more in the 1990s. Since 2000, fifteen states have begun offering the programs. Interviews with state officials indicate at least four other states have introduced legislation, convened task forces, or conducted hearings to gather information about the applied baccalaureate degree at associate degree-granting institutions, and other states are considering the applied baccalaureate at traditional baccalaureate degree-granting institutions. For many states and higher education institutions, this inventory suggests that the applied baccalaureate offers a means of reaching a diversity of underserved learners, including but not limited to adults, and supporting student enrollments in baccalaureate-level, occupational-technical degree programs. State and institutional rationales often emphasize the importance of using applied baccalaureate degrees to address workforce and economic needs. The authors conclude that, although some critics claim that applied baccalaureate degrees represent a threat to the integrity of the baccalaureate degree, diminishing quality and adding cost to an increasingly expensive higher education system, the applied baccalaureate represents a viable option to reaching adult learners and encouraging their participation in higher education to meet individual and larger systemic educational and economic needs. (Contains 1 map and 1 table.) [This brief summarizes results originally presented in "The Adult Learner and the Applied Baccalaureate: National and State-by-State Inventory" by Townsend, Bragg, and Ruud (2008), along with additional results concerning state and local implementation drawn from 50-state inventory.]
Office of Community College Research and Leadership. 51 Gerty Drive Room 129, Champaign, IL 61820. Tel: 217-244-9390; Fax: 217-244-0851; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Adult Education; Higher Education; Two Year Colleges
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: Lumina Foundation for Education
Authoring Institution: Illinois University, Office of Community College Research and Leadership
Identifiers - Laws, Policies, & Programs: Workforce Investment Act 1998; Workforce Investment Act 1998 Title II