Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Education


Higher Education



First Advisor

Kathy Peno


A high school diploma is no longer the path to financial stability; a person needs at least a postsecondary degree or credential to earn a median income (Carnevale, et al. 2019). Community colleges need to work to create opportunities for all students, including those that may enter school as an adult, and not straight from high school, to attain a certificate or degree. This study examines two public community colleges in the United States that have both noncredit and credit programs that are in different stages of advancement of clear, articulable pathways. The purpose of this qualitative case study was to explore the process that stakeholders in two community colleges describe to design and implement clearly articulated pathways for students to move from noncredit to credit programs that will allow them to attain a certificate or degree. The findings will contribute to the field of higher education and policy by assisting institutions with a tool to create a framework to design and implement noncredit to credit pathways. If community colleges create opportunities for students to bridge noncredit to credit programs by articulating credit for the time invested and competencies learned, more adult students will be able to attain certificates and degrees, thus increasing their human capital and their ability to seek higher-paying jobs.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.



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