Only 47 percent of US undergraduates are earning a bachelor’s degree

Around 50 percent of undergraduates students in the US are pursuing certificates and associate degree programs. Only 47 percent of undergraduate students are enrolled in a bachelor’s degree.

This is according to a report released by Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce titled ‘The Overlooked Value of Certificates and Associate’s Degrees: What Students Need to Know Before They Go to College.

Breakdown of undergraduates demographic

This percentage translates to roughly 2 million college graduates earning a bachelor’s degree in the US each year. This number has been on the rise for the last several decades and this may be due to the assurance a bachelor’s degree holds in finding well-paying jobs.

There is also a stack difference in earnings between a bachelor’s degree holder and a high school diploma. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that a bachelor’s degree holder has median weekly earnings of $1,173, whereas a high school diploma holder earns a median of $712 weekly.

The same report also indicated that not all associate degrees set up students on a carrier path. They stated that a bachelor’s degree still remains the gold standard for employment among employers.

Education fetched a median of $20,000

According to the report, the field of study for associate degrees and certificates determines the amount earned. For instance, the study found out that for those pursuing certificates in engineering technologies, which can lead to jobs as a technician on construction, manufacturing or engineering team, the median earnings were between $75,001 and $150,000. However, cosmetology and education fetched a median of approximately $20,000.

Professional certificates and associate degrees were also tailored to specific carrier paths. Ninety-four percent of those who pursued the professional certificates ended up working on their field of study and 57 percent of associate degrees were carrier oriented.

Highlighting this trend, the report read in part,

The new rules of the college and career game confirm that education level matters, and that more education is generally better when it comes to earnings potential, what is less well known is that program of study and major matter even more to potential earnings than education level.


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