The Adult Learner and the Applied Baccalaureate

This is a completed project. It is no longer active.


The Adult Learner and the Applied Baccalaureate project documents the applied baccalaureate phenomenon in the United States, including the extent to which applied baccalaureate programs target adult learners. Recognizing the vital link between a healthy economy and a well-educated adult workforce, this project documents educational opportunities as well as public policy and policy-oriented initiatives associated with applied baccalaureate degrees awarded by associate degree-granting and traditional baccalaureate degree-granting institutions. The project is also designed to identify factors that influence the development and sustenance of these degree options for adult learners, and forecast the likelihood that these degrees will continue to meet the needs of adult learners seeking baccalaureate-level employment.

Project Profile



The first phase of this project studied all 50 states to determine the extent to which the degrees are offered, contributing factors that led to the creation of the degrees and the decisions not to create the degrees, when applicable.

The second phase was designed to study some states with notable policies and practices, paying particular attention at how well they address the diverse needs of adult learners.

Selected Publications

The Applied Baccalaureate Degree: What We Know, What We Learned, and What We Need to Know

Collin M. Ruud & Debra D. Bragg
May 2011
Based on a Convening of higher education and research leaders sponsored by Lumina Foundation for Education, this paper presents some of the most prominent issues and questions surrounding applied baccalaureate degrees, such as definitional challenges, providing credit for applied courses, and delineating between community college baccalaureate (CCB) degrees and applied baccalaureate degrees.View PDF

The Adult Learner and the Applied Baccalaureate: Lessons from Six States

Debra D. Bragg & Collin M. Ruud
May 2011
This final report details the research activities and findings from the Lumina-sponsored applied baccalaureate project The Adult Learner and the Applied Baccalaureate. The report highlights the national inventory of AB degree programs in the U.S., discusses the state policy surrounding AB implementation, and the ways in which AB degrees address the unique needs of adult learners.View PDF

The Adult Learner and The Applied Baccalaureate: National and State-by-State Inventory

Barbara K. Townsend, Debra D. Bragg, & Collin M. Ruud
May 2011
This report details the first major phase of the Lumina-sponsored AB research team, the national state-by-state inventory of AB degree programs in the U.S. public sector. The report describes the historical development of the AB, the institutions that offer these degrees, and additional ways in which states are promoting degree completion for adult learners.View PDF

Selected Presentations

WEBINAR: The Applied Baccalaureate and Technical Transfer
Findings from the Lumina AB project, and an outline of the upcoming NSF-ATE project on AB degrees in STEM fields.
Speakers: Debra D. Bragg and Collin M. Ruud
Date: May 11, 2011

Influences Affecting the Development of the Applied Baccalaureate
Preliminary findings from the project’s national inventory of AB programs, including the influences that impact the implementation of AB degrees.
Speakers: Barbara K. Townsend, Debra D. Bragg, and Collin M. Ruud
Conference: American Educational Research Association Annual Meeting, San Diego, CA
Date: April 15, 2009, 1:00PM
PowerPoint Slides

The Applied Baccalaureate Degree: The Right Time and Place?
Analysis of AB degree programs from the state policy context, using Kingdon’s Multiple Streams framework.
Speakers: Collin M. Ruud, Debra D. Bragg, and Barbara K. Townsend
Conference: Council for the Study of Community Colleges Annual Conference, Los Angeles, CA
Date: April 3, 2009, 3:00PM
PowerPoint Slides


The Spring, 2010 edition of OCCRL’s UPDATE Newsletter features the applied baccalaureate degree. Click here to view the newsletter online.

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