Pathway to the Baccalaureate Program

Pathway to the Baccalaureate - Northern Virginia Community College
Academic Level
Issue Area
Key Personnel
Program Focus
Community Partnerships / Collective Impact,


Pathway to the Baccalaureate was launched to support the growing population of traditional-aged students in Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) who demonstrate substantial barriers to college access and completion. Funding, services and in-kind support from ten K-16 partners provides selected students with a coordinated, inter-institutional service network to address academic and navigational barriers to higher education. Students are provided with a seamless transition from high school diploma to an associate’s degree at NOVA to baccalaureate completion at George Mason University (GMU) or another university of the student’s choice. Pathway’s service model builds social capital through peer, family, and community engagement, coupled with intrusive, case management advising and a career pathways framework. The program has grown from 14 high schools in two school systems to 60 high schools in nine school systems across Northern Virginia and the District of Columbia. Of the 11,000 participants in Pathway, 93% represent one or more underserved student populations, and 45% self-identify as Latino. Through the joint efforts of institutional partners, they have demonstrated a strong, collective impact that paves the pathway to college access, success, and excellence for Northern Virginia’s underserved student populations.

Program Description

Pathway's mission is to ensure students in their region who demonstrate the desire and capacity to achieve a baccalaureate degree, but who have barriers to post-secondary attainment are provided with the individualized, structured resources and support they need to pave their own pathway to college success and excellence. The goals are: 1) To facilitate successful college transition, retention, and completion. 2) To facilitate retention and completion in high attrition programs of study. 3) To facilitate successful transfer, post-secondary, and career outcomes, including university retention and baccalaureate completion of transfer students at GMU. 4) To enhance social capital through targeted family, peer, and community-based programming and external, wrap-around services.


Pathway participants significantly exceed college and national benchmarks in college transition, retention, academic success, completion, and transfer, with measured outcomes for Latino students equivalent or better than other Pathway students.

  • Of participants in cohorts 1-10, 97% graduated from high school on time, and 88% successfully transitioned into post-secondary education.
  • Over 98% of Pathway students earned transferable college credit in the first year.
  • 70% of Pathway students were in good academic standing after the first semester.
  • The retention rates for the general Pathway population and the Latino student population are identical, with 90% persisting from the first-to-second semester, and 81% persisting on an annual basis.
  • The associate’s completion rate for Pathway participants is more than 50% above the college’s completion rate, and participants who transfer to GMU demonstrate a 93% retention rate, with 82% completing a baccalaureate degree within three years of transfer.