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ERIC Number: ED555392
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2014-Nov
Pages: 45
Abstractor: As Provided
What about Certificates? Evidence on the Labor Market Returns to Non-Degree Community College Awards in Two States. A CAPSEE Working Paper
Xu, Di; Trimble, Madeline Joy
Center for Analysis of Postsecondary Education and Employment
The annual number of certificates (non-degree awards that typically require less time to complete than degrees) awarded by community colleges has increased dramatically since 2000, but relatively little research has been conducted on the economic benefits of certificates in the labor market. Based on detailed student-level information from matched college transcript and employment data in two states [Virginia and North Carolina], this paper estimates the relationship between earning a certificate and student earnings and employment status after exiting college. While prior research in this area has explored how returns to certificates vary across broad fields of study, there may still exist substantial variation across programs within broad fields of study. Our paper extends prior research by examining the returns to specific programs that are most popular in each state. Our results indicate that certificates have positive impacts on earnings in both states overall, and in cases where there is no impact on earnings, certificates may nonetheless lead to increased probability of employment. In addition, we find substantial variation in the returns across fields of study and, more importantly, across specific programs within a particular field. These results suggest that important evidence is lost when information about the benefits of certificate programs are simply averaged together. An appendix provides two supplemental data tables.
Center for Analysis of Postsecondary Education and Employment. Teachers College, Columbia University, 525 West 120th Street Box 174, New York, NY 10027. Tel: 212.678.3091; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: Two Year Colleges; Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: Institute of Education Sciences (ED)
Authoring Institution: Center for Analysis of Postsecondary Education and Employment (CAPSEE)
Identifiers - Location: North Carolina; Virginia
IES Funded: Yes
Grant or Contract Numbers: R305C110011