Guided Pathways Initiative

As a legacy of the community colleges’ emphasis on access, flexibility, and choice, the classes offered by many community colleges are often an array of disconnected courses that are not organized as cohesive programs of study.  Students are provided with insufficient clarity on how to navigate a path to their desired degree, transfer, or career.  As a result, many students either become overwhelmed and drop out or waste time and money on courses that do not add up to a meaningful credential.

The Guided Pathways Initiative aims to address this issue by reducing and simplifying the number of choices about course selection a student must make, informing and supporting those choices, and directing students into an intentional, comprehensive program of study within one or two terms.  The process from college entrance to program selection to degree completion is streamlined, providing students with a much clearer, more efficient path to completion. Most stand-alone developmental math courses are eliminated and instead students are placed in career-focused college-level math while giving underprepared students significant support to succeed in such courses. At colleges that have transitioned to a Guided Pathways model, new students pick from a handful of “meta-majors” rather than from hundreds of courses.

Watch Guided Pathways — The Roadway to Success featuring Pierce College (runtime 5:02)

Over an eight-year period, more than $7 million in grant funding will be provided to ten of Washington’s community & technical colleges and the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges (SBCTC). SBCTC will receive funding to provide colleges with training and technical assistance. Most of the supports facilitated by SBCTC will be available to all of Washington’s two-year colleges, as SBCTC is promoting Guided Pathways across the entire community college system as a means of increasing completion rates.

Two cohorts of five colleges each will be selected to receive grant funding in the amount of $100,000 per year for five years to support the comprehensive implementation of Guided Pathways. Following a competitive selection process, five colleges were selected to receive the first round of Guided Pathway Implementation Grants. These colleges include:

  • Everett Community College
  • Peninsula College
  • Pierce College
  • South Puget Sound Community College
  • South Seattle College

The second cohort of colleges include:

  • Clover Park Technical College
  • Lower Columbia College
  • Renton Technical College
  • Spokane Falls Community College
  • Tacoma Community College

For more information on Guided Pathways, visit the Community College Research Center or the Guided Pathways Page at the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges.  A printable flyer about this initiative is available here.

The baseline initiative evaluation is available here.

To learn more about grant funding to support Guided Pathways implementation, contact Heather Gingerich at or Monica Wilson at