Since its inception, work and career-related issues have been central to the aims and scope of counseling psychology as a discipline. One common career counseling intervention in the University setting is to offer elective, credit-bearing courses in career development and exploration to provide help and direction to college students as they decide on majors and prepare for careers. Much research has been conducted which suggests that the use of career courses in the university setting has strong, positive impact on students' career decision-making ability and other output variables. What is less established is the impact of these career courses on macro-level outcome variables like retention, graduation rate, and academic performance. This ex post facto study examined two samples of undergraduate students from an eight-year span (2000-2007): one that successfully completed the Student Development 117 course at the site university (Career Exploration) during that time (N = 3,546) and a reasonably matched sample of students who did not take the career course to act as the comparison group (N = 3,510). The two groups were compared to determine if students who completed the Career Exploration course differed significantly from non-course participants in terms of graduation rate, time to graduation (in semesters and credits), course withdrawals, and total cumulative GPAs. Results indicated that the Career Exploration course was not a significant predictor of whether or not students graduated in six years, the number of semesters it took students to graduate and the number of withdrawals students incurred. However, the Career Exploration course did significantly predict total number of credits (with course participants graduating with about five more credits than the non-course participants) and cumulative GPA at graduation (with course participants graduating with higher GPAs than the comparison group). Implications for future research and practitioners are discussed.



College and Department

David O. McKay School of Education; Counseling Psychology and Special Education



Date Submitted


Document Type





college students, career development, university career course, retention, career course outcome, academic performance