College Excellence Program

The Aspen Institute's College Excellence Program aims to advance higher education practices, policies, and leadership that significantly improve student outcomes. Through the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, the New College Leadership Project, and other initiatives, the College Excellence Program works to improve colleges' understanding and capacity to teach and graduate students, especially the growing population of low-income and minority students on American campuses.

Program Updates


Aspen Presidential Fellowship

Applications Due December 4th!

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Presidential Fellowship


Congratulations to our 2015 Siemens Technical Scholars!

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2015 Aspen Prize Event Logo

Labor and Education Experts Urge Fundamental Changes to Calculating the Value of College

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From College to Jobs: Making Sense of Labor Market Returns to Higher Education


From College to Jobs: Making Sense of Labor Market Returns to Higher Education summarizes key findings from recent research on links between higher education and the workforce. Featuring eight brief papers from leading education and workforce experts from around the country, the report offers practical advice for institutional leaders, policymakers, students and their advisers about how to use the increasingly available information on the economic value of higher education. Specifically, the report’s authors and opening summary explore what various audiences can learn from emerging evidence about: variations in labor market outcomes by program and institution; the value of degrees to jobs both in and out of fields studied; returns to the completion of certain course clusters that don’t add up to a degree; and distortions that may result from examining returns to individual degrees rather than “stacked” degrees.



Congratulations to our 2015 Aspen Prize Winners!

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2015 Aspen Prize Event Logo


Our Work

Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence

The purpose of the Aspen Prize is to recognize community colleges with outstanding academic and workforce outcomes in both absolute performance and improvements over time. By focusing on student success and lifting up models that work, the Aspen Prize honors excellence, stimulates innovation, and creates benchmarks for measuring progress.

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New College Leadership Project

Efforts to improve college student success have accelerated in recent years, focused largely on the need to increase graduation rates which currently stand at about 50% nationally.  With the majority of college presidents over 60 years old, higher education systems and institutions have an opportunity and challenge: how to recruit, hire, and prepare the next generation of college presidents so that they can lead institutions to higher levels of student success. The New College Leadership Program aims to help meet that challenge through research into the attributes and actions of college presidents whose institutions achieve high levels of student success, and programs that work to increase the number of college presidents with the ability to replicate exceptional results.

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