Department of Educational Administration


Date of this Version



Essink, S. E. (2013). The community college baccalaureate: A mixed methods study of implementation and best practices. Ed.D. dissertation, University of Nebraska.


A DISSERTATION Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Doctor of Education, Major: Educational Studies, Under the Supervision of Professor Barbara LaCost. Lincoln, Nebraska: August, 2013

Copyright (c) 2013 Stan E. Essink


Community colleges have a number of missions ranging from developmental education through academic transfer. They are obligated to provide higher education opportunities in a manner that is affordable, accessible, and adaptable to the changing needs of their constituents. As the mission of community colleges continues to evolve, several states have interpreted this mission to include baccalaureate programming.

This study employed a mixed methods approach to understanding the best practices of implementing and offering bachelor’s degrees through community colleges. The objectives of the research were to determine the influences affecting implementation of bachelor’s degrees, to examine resulting institutional change, and to discover the essential components of transitioning to baccalaureate programming. The researcher interviewed ten community college personnel at three institutions in three different states that had added bachelor’s degrees. Additionally, a questionnaire sought input from college personnel at 56 institutions from across the United States that utilize the services of the Community College Baccalaureate Association.

The community college baccalaureate (CCB) potentially serves four functions: 1) fulfill an unmet niche market, 2) address shortages in key markets, 3) provide opportunities for place-bound students, and 4) provide access to higher education in restricted markets.

Three main themes emerged from the research. The importance of sufficient research and planning encompassed the bulk of the findings and consisted of several categories. The second theme pertained to the perceptions of the role community college’s play in higher education and how that influenced support or opposition to a transitioning mission. Lastly, a number of indirect results accompanied the offering of bachelor’s degrees.

Advisor: Barbara LaCost