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Indicators

Degrees Conferred by Public and Private Institutions
(Last Updated: April 2015)

The number of postsecondary degrees conferred at each degree level increased between 2002–03 and 2012–13. The certificates below the associate's degree level awarded during this period increased by 49 percent, associate's degrees increased by 59 percent, bachelor's degrees increased by 36 percent, master's degrees increased by 45 percent, and doctor's degrees increased by 44 percent.


Table 1. Number of degrees conferred by postsecondary institutions and percentage change, by control of institution and level of degree: Academic years 1992–93, 2002–03, and 2012–13
Level of degree and academic year Total Public Private
Total Nonprofit For-profit
Sub-associate certificates          
1992–93
2002–03 646,425 355,727 290,698 36,926 253,772
2012–13 966,084 544,881 421,203 30,682 390,521
Percent change from 1992–93 to 2002–03
Percent change from 2002–03 to 2012–13 49.5 53.2 44.9 -16.9 53.9
Associate's          
1992–93 514,756 430,321 84,435 47,713 36,722
2002–03 634,016 498,279 135,737 46,183 89,554
2012–13 1,006,961 772,588 234,373 55,617 178,756
Percent change from 1992–93 to 2002–03 23.2 15.8 60.8 -3.2 143.9
Percent change from 2002–03 to 2012–13 58.8 55.1 72.7 20.4 99.6
Bachelor's          
1992–93 1,165,178 785,112 380,066 373,346 6,720
2002–03 1,348,811 875,596 473,215 442,060 31,155
2012–13 1,840,164 1,163,620 676,544 535,736 140,808
Percent change from 1992–93 to 2002–03 15.8 11.5 24.5 18.4 363.6
Percent change from 2002–03 to 2012–13 36.4 32.9 43.0 21.2 352.0
Master's          
1992–93 375,032 213,843 161,189 159,562 1,627
2002–03 518,699 265,643 253,056 238,069 14,987
2012–13 751,751 346,813 404,938 326,984 77,954
Percent change from 1992–93 to 2002–03 38.3 24.2 57.0 49.2 821.1
Percent change from 2002–03 to 2012–13 44.9 30.6 60.0 37.3 420.1
Doctor's1          
1992–93 112,072 57,020 55,052 54,399 653
2002–03 121,579 61,611 59,968 58,894 1,074
2012–13 175,038 86,427 88,611 81,539 7,072
Percent change from 1992–93 to 2002–03 8.5 8.1 8.9 8.3 64.5
Percent change from 2002–03 to 2012–13 44.0 40.3 47.8 38.5 558.5
— Not available.
† Not applicable.
1 Includes Ph.D., Ed.D., and comparable degrees at the doctoral level. Includes most degrees formerly classified as first-professional, such as M.D., D.D.S., and law degrees.
NOTE: Data are for postsecondary institutions participating in Title IV federal financial aid programs.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), "Completions Survey" (IPEDS-C:93); and Fall 2003 and Fall 2013, Completions component. See Digest of Education Statistics 2014, table 318.40.

The number of postsecondary degrees conferred at each degree level increased between 2002–03 and 2012–13. The certificates below the associate's degree level awarded during this period increased by 49 percent, associate's degrees increased by 59 percent, bachelor's degrees increased by 36 percent, master's degrees increased by 45 percent, and doctor's degrees increased by 44 percent. From 2011–12 to 2012–13, institutions conferred more bachelor's and doctor's degrees but fewer certificates, associate's degrees, and master's degrees.The total number of bachelor's and doctor's degrees each increased by 3 percent. In contrast, the number of certificates conferred decreased by 2 percent, and associate's and master's degrees each decreased by 1 percent.

At all degree levels, the percentage increases from 2002–03 to 2012–13 were greater than the percentage increases from 1992–93 to 2002–03.1 For example, the number of bachelor's degree conferred by institutions increased by 36 percent from 2002–03 to 2012–13, compared to 16 percent from 1992–93 to 2002–03. However, rates of increase differed by institutional control. Public institutions had greater percentage increases across all levels of degrees from 2002–03 to 2012–13 than from 1992–93 to 2002–03Private nonprofit institutions had greater percentage increases from 2002–03 to 2012–13 than from 1992–93 to 2002–03 across all levels of degrees except master's degrees. Conversely, private for-profit institutions experienced smaller percentage increases from 2002–03 to 2012–13 than from 1992–93 to 2002–03 across all degrees except doctor's degrees.


Figure 1. Percentage distribution of certificates and associate's degrees conferred by postsecondary institutions, by control of institution: Academic years 2002–03 and 2012–13

Figure 1. Percentage distribution of certificates and associate's degrees conferred by postsecondary institutions, by control of institution: Academic years 2002–03 and 2012–13

NOTE: Data are for postsecondary institutions participating in Title IV federal financial aid programs. Detail may not sum to totals because of rounding.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), Fall 2003 and Fall 2013, Completions component. See Digest of Education Statistics 2014, table 318.40.


From 2002–03 to 2012–13, the number of certificates awarded by public institutions increased by 53 percent (from 356,000 to 545,000 certificates), and the number awarded by private for-profit institutions increased by 54 percent (from 254,000 to 391,000 certificates). However, the number of certificates awarded by private nonprofit institutions decreased by 17 percent (from 37,000 to 31,000 certificates).

The number of associate's degrees awarded from 2002–03 to 2012–13 increased by 55 percent for public institutions (from 498,000 to 773,000 degrees), by 20 percent for private nonprofit institutions (from 46,000 to 56,000 degrees), and by 100 percent for private for-profit institutions (from 90,000 to 179,000 degrees). Due to these changes, the share of all associate's degrees conferred by private for-profit institutions increased from 14 percent in 2002–03 to 18 percent in 2012–13, while the share conferred by public and private nonprofit institutions decreased during this time period from 79 to 77 percent and from 7 to 6 percent, respectively.


Figure 2. Percentage distribution of bachelor's, master's, and doctor's degrees conferred by postsecondary institutions, by control of institution: Academic years 2002–03 and 2012–13

Figure 2. Percentage distribution of bachelor's, master's, and doctor's degrees conferred by postsecondary institutions, by control of institution: Academic years 2002–03 and 2012–13

1 Includes Ph.D., Ed.D., and comparable degrees at the doctoral level. Includes most degrees formerly classified as first-professional, such as M.D., D.D.S., and law degrees.
NOTE: Data are for postsecondary institutions participating in Title IV federal financial aid programs. Detail may not sum to totals because of rounding.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), Fall 2003 and Fall 2013, Completions component. See Digest of Education Statistics 2014, table 318.40.


From 2002–03 to 2012–13, the number of bachelor's degrees awarded by public institutions increased by 33 percent (from 876,000 to 1.2 million degrees), the number awarded by private nonprofit institutions increased by 21 percent (from 442,000 to 536,000 degrees), and the number awarded by private for-profit institutions increased by 352 percent (from 31,000 to 141,000 degrees). As a result, the shares of all bachelor's degrees conferred by public and private nonprofit institutions decreased from 65 to 63 percent and from 33 to 29 percent, respectively, while the share conferred by private for-profit institutions increased from 2 to 8 percent.

The number of master's degrees awarded by public institutions increased by 31 percent (from 266,000 to 347,000 degrees) from 2002–03 to 2012–13, yet the percentage of all master's degrees conferred by these institutions declined from 51 to 46 percent. Similarly, the number of master's degrees conferred by private nonprofit institutions increased by 37 percent (from 238,000 to 327,000 degrees) from 2002–03 to 2012–13, but the percentage of all master's degrees conferred by these institutions decreased (from 46 to 43 percent). In contrast, the number of master's degrees conferred by private for-profit institutions increased by 420 percent (from 15,000 to 78,000 degrees) from 2002–03 to 2012–13, resulting in an increase in these institutions' share of total master's degrees conferred, from 3 to 10 percent.

From 2002–03 to 2012–13, the number of doctor's degrees conferred increased by 40 percent at public institutions (from 61,600 to 86,400 degrees), by 38 percent at private nonprofit institutions (from 58,900 to 81,500 degrees), and by 558 percent at private for-profit institutions (from 1,100 to 7,100 degrees). Public and private nonprofit institutions' shares of all doctor's degrees conferred decreased from 2002–03 to 2012–13 (from 51 to 49 percent and from 48 to 47 percent, respectively), while private for-profit institutions' share increased (from 1 to 4 percent).


1 The number of sub-associate certificates conferred in 1992–93 is not available; therefore, certificates are not included in these comparisons.


Glossary terms: Associate's degree, Bachelor's degree, Doctor's degree, Master's degree, Private institution, Public school or institution
Data source: Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS)


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National Center for Education Statistics - http://nces.ed.gov
U.S. Department of Education