Report: More students are pursuing certificates and associate degrees
More students pursue certificates and associate degrees than bachelor’s degrees in the United States, and they tend to be more diverse in terms of race and ethnicity, economic status, and age. This is the general conclusion of a recent research project carried out by the Center on Education and Workforce at Georgetown University.
According to “The Overlooked Value of Certificates and Associate’s Degrees“these ‘intermediate skills pathways’ are delivered in total at a slightly higher rate than bachelor’s degrees – 50% for the former versus 47% for the latter, with the remaining 3% being students taking courses without being enrolled Each year, colleges award about two million four-year degrees and about one million each of the other degrees.
Among college degree applicants, Black and Latino students tend to be more concentrated in certificate and associate degree programs (56% and 62%, respectively) than in bachelor’s degree programs (44% and 38% ). The reverse is true for whites, who are more concentrated in bachelor’s degree programs (53%) than in certificate or associate degree programs (47%). In fact, overall, whites are “overrepresented” in four-year college graduation, whereas in states where blacks and Latinx make up a significant proportion of the population, they’re relatively overrepresented in obtaining a certificate. For example, in Mississippi, blacks make up 37% of the population but earn half of all certificates awarded. In California, Latinx make up 36% of the population but earn 44% of the certificates awarded.
Even though Black and Latino students are graduating from post-secondary education at higher rates, “the fact that they are graduating from post-secondary education at lower levels than whites means we have a lot of work to do to fill the gaps.” equity gaps,” said Tanya Garcia, co-author of the report and a senior researcher at the center, in a statement.
Among undergraduates, those who were independent and in the lowest income quartile were more likely to enroll in a certificate or associate degree program than dependent students (62% vs. 54%). Among the top income quartile, 60% of independent students were more likely to pursue a certificate or associate’s degree, compared to only 24% of dependent students.