Report Shows Decrease in Undergrad Degree Earners, 99k Fewer Last Year

United States North America Higher Education News Statistics by Erudera News Apr 17, 2024

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The number of undergraduate degree earners in the United States has dropped for the second year in a row following years of a steady increase, data by the National Student Clearinghouse (NSC) Research Center revealed.

According to NSC’s report “Undergraduate Degree Earners,” the number of college students with undergraduate degrees, including bachelor’s, associate degrees and certificates, declined by 2.8 percent in the 2022/23 academic year, or 99,200 fewer students than in the previous year, Erudera.com reports.

“The number of undergraduate degree earners fell for the second year in a row in the 2022-23 academic year (-2.8 percent or -99,200 from a year earlier), after many years of gradual increases. First-time completers, accounting for 73.3 percent of all completers in 2022-2023, fell by 73,600 (-2.8 percent ),” the report reads.

During the 2020/21 academic year, 58,800 fewer students graduated from college, a 1.6 percent decrease compared to the previous year.

Despite the overall decline in undergraduate degree earners, the number of students with certificates increased last year, higher than in any of the last ten years.

On the other hand, fewer students received associate degrees in 2022/23, a 7.3 percent decrease. Moreover, the number of students with bachelor’s degrees also fell by 3 percent, hitting the lowest level since the 2015/16 academic year.

“As expected, the enrollment declines of the pandemic years are now showing up in falling numbers of degree earners as well,” said Doug Shapiro, Executive Director of the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center.

The same report unveils declines in the number of students with a prior qualification deciding to earn a new one. Students with a certificate returning to earn an associate degree dropped by 2.5 percent, while those with an associate earning a bachelor’s degree decreased by 3.3 percent.

Similarly, the number of students with a bachelor’s or master’s degrees earning a certificate, which increased to a record high in the past two years, has decreased by 3.7 percent.

Additionally, the report reveals that more women than men earned their first-year degree in 2022/23, 6.2 percent and 5.3 percent, respectively.

According to Pew Research Center (PRC) data, women surpass men in college graduation. In 2021, 46 percent of women aged 25-34 held a bachelor’s degree, compared to 36 percent of men.

An October survey of Americans without a degree conducted by PRC found that 34 percent of men did not complete their four-year college degree because they did not want to. Only one in four women said the same.

Men were also more likely to admit that a significant reason behind their decision not to get a four-year college degree was the belief there was no need for more education for their desired career. The share among women and men expressing such belief was 26 and 20 percent, respectively.

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