tc columbia

Photo of Teachers College, Columbia University

Our Mission

CCRC studies community colleges because they provide critical access to postsecondary education and are uniquely positioned to promote equity and social mobility in the United States. Our mission is to conduct research that helps these institutions strengthen opportunities and improve outcomes for their students, particularly those from underserved populations.

Our Values

Rigorous research

We use scientific methods to produce accurate and reliable information on community college programs and the students they serve. Our researchers take a broad interdisciplinary approach that combines quantitative and qualitative analysis.

Actionable knowledge

Our studies are designed to yield evidence that practitioners and policymakers can use to improve students’ experiences and outcomes.


We partner with community colleges, states, federal agencies, philanthropies, and other organizations to design studies and disseminate lessons from research. Our collaborative approach enables us to address pressing issues in the field and offer recommendations that are attuned to the realities on the ground.


Community colleges are crucial sites for improving educational equity. We aim to identify policies and practices that enable institutions to counteract social disparities by race and class and promote the success of students from all underserved populations.


Our work is fundamentally driven by the idea that research can improve outcomes for community colleges and their students. Our optimism is bolstered by the deep dedication we observe among community college faculty and staff.

Our History

In 1996, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation invited Thomas Bailey, director of the Institute on Education and the Economy at Teachers College, Columbia University, to submit a proposal to form a community college research center. At the time, little was known about two-year public colleges despite the fact that they enrolled nearly half of the nation’s undergraduates. In the years since, CCRC’s research on community colleges has served to generate and inform a renewed interest in these essential higher education institutions.

In 2018, Thomas W. Brock became the second director of CCRC, leading the center as it continues to make vital contributions to higher education research, policy, and practice.

CCRC-Led Research Partnerships

about capr logo

The Center for the Analysis of Postsecondary Readiness (CAPR) conducts research to document current practices in developmental English and math education, and to rigorously assess the effects of innovative assessment and instructional practices on student success. CAPR includes researchers from CCRC; MDRC; Queens College, City University of New York; Stanford University; the University of California at Davis; and Vanderbilt University. The center is funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Education's Institute of Education Sciences.

Previous federally funded centers led by CCRC include the Center for Analysis of Postsecondary Education and Employment (CAPSEE) and the National Center for Postsecondary Research (NCPR).