College Degree Round Up
Revised with the newest data July 1, 2015
College Degree Round Up
American colleges and universities continue to turn out graduates, and in ever increasing numbers. In the year ending June 2013, the last year of complete data, the National Center for Education Statistics at the United States Department of Education reported 1,006,961 graduates receiving associates degrees, 1,840,164 receiving Baccalaureate degrees, 751,751 receiving master's degrees, 80,396 receiving doctoral degrees, and 99,735 receiving professional degrees. Professional degrees include medical, pharmacy, veterinary, law and theology. This year total associates degrees and total masters degrees were off slightly: the associates degree down 10,577, the masters degree down 2,478.
In 1900 the decennial census counted that year's college graduates; 27,410 received Baccalaureate Degrees from degree granting colleges. After reaching 186,500 in 1940, BA degrees climbed to 432,048 in 1950 when WWII veterans began taking advantage of the GI Bill of Rights and entered college in large numbers. Earned degrees declined some later in the 1950's; but surpassed all earlier numbers by 1964. Earned baccalaureate degrees jumped to 792,316 in June of 1970; 900 thousand in 1973; 1 million in 1989. In June 2000, 1,237,875 earned Baccalaureate degrees from accredited degree granting colleges and universities. The total of 2013 degrees, associate, masters, doctorate, and first-time professional in addition to the 1,840,164 BA degrees mentioned above came to 3,779,047 for the year ending June 2013.
The numbers receiving United State College degrees continue to grow at a 2.75 percent annual average rate over the last 23 years; more than double the growth rate for the adult population and more than double the growth rate of the civilian labor force. The rate applies to the total of degrees granted from U.S. colleges and universities: associate, baccalaureate, masters, doctorates and first professional degrees. In this way America is getting better educated with a better educated workforce.
Growth rates vary widely by sex and by level of degree. Women have higher growth rates in all degree levels going back to 1990. Women were 41 percent of BA degrees in 1970 but they make up 57.2 percent of the degrees in 2013 leaving 42.8 percent to men. In 2013, women graduates out numbered the men in associates, baccalaureate, masters and doctorate degrees. Men hold a slight edge in professional degrees, but that has fallen to 2,599 this year. For the past twenty years the growth rate of women degree candidates in professions, primarily law and medicine, was 4 times that of men. Women will become the majority in the professions.
The master's degree has the highest annual growth rate at 3.55 percent starting from June 1990. The rate for women is 4.05 percent; for men 2.89 percent. Associates degrees are second with a growth rate of 3.26 percent a year, but the growth rate is the combination of a 2.96 percent for men and a 3.45 percent women.
The 80,396 who received doctoral degrees is the highest ever. The doctorate holds third place in growth rate at 3.16 percent per year from 1990 to 2013. Women have a higher growth rate at 4.82 percent compared to 1.82 percent for men. Women doctorates were just slightly over a thousand a year in 1960, but women passed men in 2007 and every year since with 42,909 in 2013.
Baccalaureate degrees hold fourth place at an annual growth rate 2.28 percent. That means almost 745,626 more degrees in 2013 than 1990. Again growth rates for women are higher than men: 2.55 percent for women, 1.96 percent for men.
The slowest annual growth of all comes in first professional degrees with an annual growth rate of only 1.43 percent. Medical Doctor, also known as the MD degree, has the low growth rate of professional degrees: .60 percent. Among other medical specialties podiatry and chiropractic medicine have negative growth, and optometry have low growth: 1.36 percent. Osteopathic medicine had 4,691 graduates and a growth rate of 5.21 percent since 1990. None of these other medical degrees are as important to the country as the MD degree where America's medical schools turned out just 17,264 graduates in 2013, which is just 1,326 more than 1985-86. Veterinary medicine has higher growth than the MD degree, 1.09 percent, although lower numbers. Pharmacy degrees have the highest growth rate among first professional degrees. Pharmacy is the third leading first time professional degree with 13,352 thousand graduates in 2013 compared to 1,244 in 1990. Outside of medicine, law degrees continue to grow at a slow but steady pace of .92 percent a year with 46,811 graduates in 2013. Theology has slow growth with 5,680 graduates in 2013.
Degree Program Details 2013
The National Center for Education Statistics defines individual degree programs within a hierarchy of programs defined as part of its Classification of Instructional Programs, or CIP for short. Individual degrees are grouped as part of related degrees in a broader group of functional levels. For example, civil engineering is an instructional degree program within the broader functional level, engineering. Political science is an instructional degree program within the broader functional level, social science.
Associates degrees, were down slightly to 1,006,961 in 2013 as mentioned above. The National Center for Education Statistics first started reporting associates degrees in June of 1966 when they were 111,607 graduates. They have increased with almost every year bigger than the last. Degrees in liberal arts and science, general studies and humanities continue to grow with 334,091 degrees in 2013, which was 34.2 percent of associates degrees and more than any other field of study. Health professions hold second place with 214,004; business degrees have third place with 114,740 degrees. Many with associate’s degrees go on to finish baccalaureate degrees but many associates degree have career oriented degrees that could be terminal degrees for entry level training. Personal and culinary services, criminal justice and corrections, mechanics and repairers are three degrees with 82,432 graduates in 2013 and specific entry skills to begin a career. Computer and information sciences and support services continued a fifth year of increase with 38,931 degrees, 79 percent men. The total remains below the 46.2 thousand degrees of 2003. Many of the technical programs in nursing, health, engineering and architecture provide entry skills, but also a beginning path to baccalaureate or advanced degree training.
Baccalaureate degrees were up to 1,840,164 for the year ending June 2013. The National Center for Education Statistics reports at least one degree in 832 different Baccalaureate instructional degree programs, also known as fields of study, or majors. Business baccalaureate programs had 360,823 degrees, the highest percentage of total BA degrees: 19.6 percent. Health care and related professions moved into second place in 2013 with 181,144 degrees has a 5 year average increase with 13,933 degrees, the highest of the broad BA degree fields of study and therefore higher than business with 5,114, and social sciences with 2,083. Social science degrees including history, political science, sociology, economics and history dropped to third place with 177,778 degrees, or 9.66 percent of BA degrees.
No other field of study with BA degrees has as much as 7 percent of degrees. Psychology has 114,450 at 6.22 percent of degrees. Education has 104,647 at 5.69 percent, primarily elementary education. Biology and life sciences, and visual and performing arts have over 5 percent, and communications, journalism and related studies have 4.61 percent. Important degrees in computer and information sciences did increase from 47,384 BA degrees in 2012 to 50,962 in 2013; engineering did a better with an increase of more than 4 thousand to 85,980 BA degrees, a 4.67 percent share. Computer and information sciences have a 5 year average increase of 2,497. Several BA fields of study show a decline since 1990: English language and literature and Liberal Arts and Sciences, general studies, and humanities have a negative five year average change.
Masters degrees were down for the year to 751,751 the first decrease in a decade: down 2.5 thousand. At least one degree reported for 804 different degree programs, but degrees tend to be concentrated in a few fields. Like the Baccalaureate degree the masters degree in business holds first place with 188,625 master’s degrees and 113,313 of the degrees in the single program, the MBA degree. Business has 25.1 percent of master’s degrees. Education master’s degrees hold second place with 164,624 in 93 degree programs. All masters degrees in educational specialties are 21.9 percent of all master’s degrees for the year ending June 2013.
Education is a degree level where there are more master’s degrees than baccalaureate degrees. Library science, social work, and counseling also have more masters than baccalaureate degrees. Library science had 102 BA degrees; 6,983 masters degrees for 2013. In education for nearly all the public schools teachers that earn masters degree in educational specialties open career opportunities teaching in specialized programs and move to a higher pay scale. The master degree is often directly tied with career opportunity and advancement.
Health professions holds third place with 90,931 masters degrees, 12.1 percent of the total. The largest master’s degree training occurs in nursing with 12,963 MSN degrees compared to 101,628 at the BA degree level. Public health is next with 7,774 degrees and health care administration and management is third place with 7,455 degrees.
There were 40,417 masters degrees reported in 42 engineering degree programs. Computer and information services specialties had 22,777 master’s degrees for 2013, up from 2012. It has a five year average increase of 1,138, a modest increase compared to excellent job prospects. Chemistry leads physical science degrees, but with only 2,265 degrees. Mathematics had 8,851master’s degrees but both math and science are small compared to business, education and health professions masters degrees.
Doctoral degrees were up to 80,396 for the year ending June 2013. Annual growth rates continue to be very high with a five year average increase of 3,337. Doctoral candidates are up every year for over a decade. The health professions had 16,951 doctorates, or 21.1 percent of doctorates for the year. The total does not include the MD degree, which is a professional degree. Second place goes to education with 10,572 doctorates and 13.1 percent of the total. Engineering had 9,356 PhD’s, or 13.1 percent of doctorates. Biology and biomedical sciences 7,943 degrees, or 9.9 percent of doctorates; physical sciences 5,514 degrees, or 6.9 percent of doctorates. The biological and physical sciences have a higher share of doctorates than they do for baccalaureate degree programs. Specialties in psychology in 22 programs with at least one degree totaled 6,323 doctorates. In the social sciences, economics, political science, sociology and history have the largest share of the 4,619 social science doctorates. Business has only 2,836 doctorates, mostly the DBA. English language and literature shows a decline since 1970, but modest growth since 1990 with 1,056 doctorates in 1990 and 1,373 in 2013.
Percentage Distribution of All Degrees Granted for the Year Ending June 2013
1. Business, management, marketing - - - makes up 20.7% of all degrees
2. Social Sciences, and history, lib-arts, general-studies, multi-disciplinary - - - 11.6%
3. Health Professions - - - 10.8%
4. Education - - - makes up 10.5% of all degrees
5. Physical sciences, Biological and Biomedical sciences - - - 6.1%
6. Psychology - - - 5.6%
7. Engineering - - - 5.1%
8. Visual and performing arts - - - 4.4%
9. English language/literature/letters, Area & ethnic stud, Foreign languages - - - 3.8%
10. Communication, journalism, and related programs - - - 3.7%
11. Public administration and social service professions - - - 2.9%
12. Computer science - - - 2.8%
13. Homeland security, law enforcement, and firefighting - - - 2.6%
14. Parks, recreation, leisure and fitness studies - - - 1.9%
15. Natural resources and Agriculture - - - 1.6%
16. Philosophy and religious studies, Theology and Religious Vocations - - - 1.5%
17. Family and consumer sciences/human sciences - - - 1.0%
18. Mathematics and Statistics - - - 1.1%
19. Engineering technologies/technicians - - - .8%
20. Architecture - - - .7%
21. Law and Legal studies - - - .4%
22. Library science - - - .3%
23. Communications technologies/technicians and support services - - -.2%
24. Transportation and materials moving technologies - - -.2%