The Community College to University Pathway: Geoscience Majors in the California Public University System

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Community colleges are a key part of many four-year university students post-secondary education pathways. According to AGI's 2011 Status of the Geoscience Workforce report, within the science and engineering disciplines, 67% of Bachelor's degree recipients, 58% of Master's degree recipients and 44% of Doctorates attended community college. Furthermore, within the geosciences, 52% of Bachelor's degree recipients, 40% of Master's degree recipients, and 21% of Doctorates attended community colleges.

Understanding the flow of students from community colleges to four-year institutions allows faculty to develop closer cross-institutional ties that can foster a stronger pipeline between community college and university programs. In Fall 2010, students from 97 California community colleges transferred into geoscience programs in the California public university system (UC and CSU). On average, each university received students from an average of 12 community colleges. However, some universities received students from a much larger pool of community colleges.

Humbolt State University and UC-Davis received students into geoscience programs from the most California community colleges in 2010, at 47 and 30 community colleges respectively. UC-Merced and UC-Santa Cruz received students from the least number of community colleges in 2010, each recieving students from only two community colleges. El Camino College and Moorpark College both served the most California public universities in 2010, each sending students into geoscience programs at 10 universities.

For a full exploration of the geoscience student flow from community colleges to public universities in California between 2001 and 2010, see the data visualizations posted on Tableau at:

Number of California Community Colleges sending students to geoscience programs at California public universities, and number of California universities receiving students from California community colleges. Data derived from the California Postsecondary Education Commission.