Document Type



Master of Arts


Comparative and International Education

First Adviser

Wiseman, Alexander W.


This research investigates the contribution of community colleges to U.S. college graduates' salary and participation in the labor market. Using a quantitative approach to a human capital framework, this study investigates annual salary and employment rate differences between only bachelor's degree holders and both an associate's and a bachelor's degree holders. Labor market expectations have led to increasing attention on community-college and four-year college graduates throughout the late 20th and early 21st centuries. This research tests these labor market expectations and asks whether degree-type contributes to annual salary and employment status in the labor market. The data from the 2008 National Survey of Recent College Graduates administered by the National Science Foundation was used to examine annual salary and employment rate differences. The analyses reported here show that degree type has a slight positive impact on annual salary and employment status. However, there are other factors such as gender, age, race/ethnicity that mediate the positive impact of having both an associate's degree and a bachelor's degree on annual salary and labor market participation. These findings suggest that examining background factors and educational history together rather than focusing only on the relationship between degree type and labor market outcomes is needed in further analyses.