Undergraduate Degree Earners 

Academic Year 2022-23

April 11, 2024

The number of undergraduate degree earners fell for the second year in a row in the 2022-23 academic year (-2.8% 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%).

More students earned a certificate this year than in any of the last ten years. That growth in certificate earners is made up entirely by a 6.2 percent (+26,900) increase of those earning their first-ever award, building on last year’s growth (+6.5% or +26,700 from 2020-21) for a two-year increase of 13.1 percent (+53,600).

In contrast, fewer students earned an associate degree this year than in any of the last ten years, and bachelor’s earners declined to their lowest level since 2015-16.

The majority (54.6%) of this year’s decline in graduates with a prior award is attributable to fewer students with an associate degree returning to earn their bachelor’s (-3.3%, -14,000). The number of students with a prior certificate that earned an associate degree fell for the first time since 2017-18 (-2.5%, -2,000), returning to 2020-21 levels. The number of bachelor’s and/or master’s degree holders who returned to earn a certificate, a population which reached unprecedented heights in the last two years (nearly 85,000 completers per year, up from just 72,100 in 2016-17), has begun to decline (-3.7%, -3,100).

Half (51.7%) of this year’s growth in first-time certificate earners is attributable to 18-20-year-olds (+11.3%, +13,900). First-time associate completers who were 18-20 years old, however, saw their first meaningful decline (-4.7%, -9,700) after stabilizing last year following years of growth. Declines among 21-24-year-old first-time associate degree completers doubled this year (2021-22: -4.5%, -10,700; 2022-23, -9.5%, -21,600).

The Undergraduate Degree Earners Report provides a demographic and education credential profile for all students who graduate with an undergraduate-level credential, encompassing undergraduate certificates and associate and bachelor’s degrees. In this report, we profile students who earned undergraduate credentials during the most recent academic year (2022-23), focusing on first-time completers versus those with a prior award. We also examine change over time in student demographics (gender, age, race/ethnicity), major field, and credentials attained (certificates, and associate, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees) since the 2013-14 academic year. The report presents trend data nationally, as well as by state and region.

New this year, the report is presented as an interactive data dashboard. New variables for analysis include race/ethnicity and major field of students’ credentials. Additional information can be found in a downloadable data appendix.

Download the Data Appendix (xlsx) and Methodological Notes (pdf). 

Navigate using the tabs at the top of the dashboard to see details for demographics, states and regions, and major fields.

This report was created with the support of Lumina Foundation.

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