Graduate Research and Discovery Symposium (GRADS)


Catherine Mobley

Document Type



Applied Sociology

Publication Date

Spring 2013


Transfer students account for a large percentage of the postsecondary population. Although several transfer pathways exist, much of the existing literature centers on the vertical track, or student transfer from a two-year to a four-year university, while overlooking the much-traveled lateral pathway between two institutions of a similar type (i.e., from one two- or four-year institution to another). Additionally, few studies exclusively concentrate on the shrinking pool of students majoring in the engineering fields, which may prove problematic for the future of the United States’ economy if recruitment strategies are not improved. The present paper, which is part of a larger mixed-method study, presents the results of a descriptive study of the student pathways and performance of undergraduate transfer engineering students at eleven participating universities. We report the initial descriptive characteristics of 126 students at four of the four-year study institutions. Results show that 46% of the students in our sample laterally transferred in from another four-year school, a large percentage compared to the relatively rare consideration of lateral transfer students in the existing literature. The study results should be of interest to faculty, staff and policy makers interested in improving the retention and success of transfer students in engineering.