Emilie Rusch

Colorado School of Mines, Colorado Community College System collaborate on new engineering degree

Associate in Engineering Science degree allows for smoother transfer from community college to Mines
Paul Johnson, center, signs agreement with Joe Garcia and Angie Paccione

Mines President Paul C. Johnson, center, finishes signing the agreement with Colorado Community College System to create the Associate of Engineering Science degree as CCCS Chancellor Joe Garcia, right, and Angie Paccione, executive director of the Colorado Department of Higher Education, look on. (Photo by Joe DelNero/Colorado School of Mines)

The Colorado Community College System (CCCS) and Colorado School of Mines signed an agreement today to partner on a new Associate in Engineering Science (AES) degree this fall that will smooth the path for transfer from community college to a four-year degree program at Mines.

Though students from CCCS institutions are already able to transfer to Mines, the new AES degree will streamline the process and ensure that all credits will transfer. The degree will serve as a direct track from community colleges statewide to Mines, a public STEM university consistently ranked among the best in the nation for return on investment.

“Colorado School of Mines is excited to partner with CCCS on this new degree program and pathway to Mines,” said Mines President Paul C. Johnson. “It is important to us to provide admission opportunities for students from all backgrounds, and particularly those who dream of being engineers, scientists and entrepreneurs, but may not be ready or able to enter Mines directly from high school. Many of our successful alumni fell into this category with their Mines journey. In partnership with CCCS, we can ensure that those students are ready for Mines and successful completion of one of our highly-ranked degree programs in the applied sciences, business and engineering. Giving transfer students a clear and efficient path for starting their education at a community college and finishing at Mines is a benefit to everyone – the community college, Mines, our state, and, most importantly, the student.”

Joe Garcia, Chancellor of CCCS, said, “As the largest and most diverse system of higher education in the state, we’re always looking for ways to expand opportunities for our students, whether they choose to go directly into the workforce or pursue further education after their associates degree. For many of our students, the transfer process itself can appear overly complicated, and transfer to Colorado School of Mines completely out of reach. This system-wide partnership with Mines offers our students a straightforward pathway to an engineering degree from one of the most prestigious institutions in the nation.”

Faculty at Mines collaborated with colleagues at CCCS to develop the two-year curriculum, which tracks as closely as possible to the rigorous core curriculum at Mines. Graduates of the AES program will have completed the core engineering requirements while in community college, maximizing earned transfer credit at Mines and creating a pathway to complete any bachelor’s degree at Mines within two to three years of completion of the associate degree.

In addition, if a student starts the AES degree at a CCCS institution, but transfers to Mines before it is completed, Mines and CCCS are pursuing a reverse transfer mechanism that would allow transfer students to earn their AES along the way to completing their bachelor of science at Mines.

“This type of collaboration is exactly what we have in mind as we seek to execute the goals outlined in our strategic plan for higher education,” said Dr. Angie Paccione, executive director of the Colorado Department of Higher Education. “This agreement, signed today, gets us further down the road for containing costs and creating innovative programs for our students.”

Assisting students to pursue their highest academic goals is at the heart of the community college mission. While community colleges prioritize high-quality education and workforce training that leads directly to employment, it is increasingly common for students to begin their postsecondary education at a community college and then transfer to a four-year institution for a bachelor’s degree or higher.  CCCS has placed emphasis on partnerships and pathways such as the AES degree that make it easy for students to continue their education.

Improving the experience for transfer students is also an important part of Mines’ strategic plans as the university approaches its 150th anniversary in 2024, said Gus Grievel, assistant dean of transfer student enrollment and articulation at Mines.  Overall, transfer students at Mines tend to have higher retention and completion rates than the student body as a whole.

“Currently, students will sometimes transfer from a community college and find that many of the courses they’ve completed do not count toward credits they need at Mines. This degree maximizes the positive impacts for students wishing to transfer to Mines after studying at a community college,” Grievel said. “We want to be a destination place for all students wanting to pursue a rigorous STEM degree.”

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About CCCS

The Colorado Community College System (CCCS) is the state’s largest system of higher education and workforce development, delivering thousands of programs to over 125,000 students annually through 13 colleges and 38 locations across Colorado. The System’s open-access mission ensures all Coloradans who aspire to enrich their lives have access to high quality, affordable higher education opportunities. The System Office provides leadership, advocacy, and support to the colleges under the direction of the State Board for Community Colleges and Occupational Education (SBCCOE). Join us in changing the way Colorado goes to college

About Colorado School of Mines

Colorado School of Mines is a public university focused on science and engineering, dedicated to educating and inspiring students, advancing knowledge, and innovating to address the great challenges society faces today—particularly those related to earth, energy and the environment. Founded in 1874 with specialties in mining and metallurgy, Mines’ scope and mission have expanded to meet the needs of industry and society, producing distinctive graduates and revolutionary innovations, and becoming a world leader in advancing sustainable use of the Earth’s resources. For more information, go to

Emilie Rusch

Emilie Rusch

Director of Communications
About Mines
Colorado School of Mines is a public R1 research university focused on applied science and engineering, producing the talent, knowledge and innovations to serve industry and benefit society – all to create a more prosperous future.