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Degrees Conferred by Public and Private Institutions
(Last Updated: April 2014)

The number of postsecondary degrees conferred was higher in academic year 2011–12 than in 2010–11 at all levels except the certificate level. From 2000–01 to 2011–12, the number of postsecondary degrees conferred by private for-profit institutions increased by a larger percentage than the number conferred by public institutions and private nonprofit institutions; this was true for all levels of degrees.


Table 1. Number of degrees conferred by Title IV postsecondary institutions and percent change, by control of institution and level of degree: Academic years 2000–01, 2010–11, and 2011–12
Level of degree and academic year Total Public Private
Total Nonprofit For-profit
Sub-associate certificates          
2000–01 552,503 309,624 242,879 29,336 213,543
2010–11 1,029,557 519,670 509,887 36,513 473,374
2011–12 987,715 524,386 463,329 32,872 430,457
Percent change from 2000–01 to 2011–12 78.8 69.4 90.8 12.1 101.6
Percent change from 2010–11 to 2011–12 -4.1 0.9 -9.1 -10 -9.1
Associate's          
2000–01 578,865 456,487 122,378 45,711 76,667
2010–11 942,327 696,788 245,539 51,969 193,570
2011–12 1,017,538 756,084 261,454 54,346 207,108
Percent change from 2000–01 to 2011–12 75.8 65.6 113.6 18.9 170.1
Percent change from 2010–11 to 2011–12 8 8.5 6.5 4.6 7
Bachelor's          
2000–01 1,244,171 812,438 431,733 408,701 23,032
2010–11 1,715,913 1,088,297 627,616 513,106 114,510
2011–12 1,791,046 1,131,886 659,160 526,506 132,654
Percent change from 2000–01 to 2011–12 44 39.3 52.7 28.8 476
Percent change from 2010–11 to 2011–12 4.4 4 5 2.6 15.8
Master's          
2000–01 473,502 246,054 227,448 215,815 11,633
2010–11 730,635 339,250 391,385 313,200 78,185
2011–12 754,229 349,311 404,918 325,427 79,491
Percent change from 2000–01 to 2011–12 59.3 42 78 50.8 583.3
Percent change from 2010–11 to 2011–12 3.2 3 3.5 3.9 1.7
Doctor's1          
2000–01 119,585 60,820 58,765 57,722 1,043
2010–11 163,765 81,938 81,827 76,608 5,219
2011–12 170,062 84,727 85,335 79,483 5,852
Percent change from 2000–01 to 2011–12 42.2 39.3 45.2 37.7 461.1
Percent change from 2010–11 to 2011–12 3.8 3.4 4.3 3.8 12.1
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), Fall 2001, Fall 2011, and Fall 2012, Completions component. See Digest of Education Statistics 2013, table 318.40.

From academic year 2000–01 to 2011–12, the total number of postsecondary degrees conferred by public, private nonprofit, and private for-profit institutions increased for each level of degree.1 For all Title IV institutions, the total number of certificates awarded increased by 79 percent, associate's degrees increased by 76 percent, bachelor's degrees increased by 44 percent, master's degrees increased by 59 percent, and doctor's degrees increased by 42 percent from 2000–01 to 2011–12. For all postsecondary degree levels, the percentage increases from 2000–01 to 2011–12 were smaller for public and private nonprofit institutions than for private for-profit institutions. The total number of postsecondary degrees conferred was higher in 2011–12 than in 2010–11 for associate's degrees (by 8 percent), bachelor's degrees (by 4 percent), master's degrees (by 3 percent), and doctor's degrees (by 4 percent) but was lower at the certificate level (by 4 percent).


Figure 1. Percentage distribution of certificates and associate's degrees conferred by Title IV postsecondary institutions, by control of institution: Academic years 2000–01 and 2011–12

Figure 1.Percentage distribution of certificates and associate's degrees conferred by Title IV postsecondary institutions, by control of institution: Academic years 2000–01 and 2011–12

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 2001 and Fall 2012, Completions component. See Digest of Education Statistics 2013, table 318.40.


From academic year 2000–01 to 2011–12, the number of certificates awarded by public institutions increased by 69 percent (from 310,000 to 524,000 certificates) and by 102 percent for private for-profit institutions (from 214,000 to 430,000 certificates). The number of certificates awarded by private nonprofit institutions was 12 percent higher in 2011–12 than in 2000–01 (32,900 vs. 29,300 certificates). As a result of these changes, the share of all certificates awarded by private for-profit institutions increased from 39 percent in year 2000–01 to 44 percent in 2011–12, while the share conferred by public and private nonprofit institutions decreased over the last decade (from 56 to 53 percent and from 5 to 3 percent, respectively). From 2010–11 to 2011–12, the number of certificates awarded by private nonprofit and private for-profit institutions decreased (by 10 and 9 percent, respectively). Over these two recent years, the number of certificates awarded by public institutions increased by 1 percent.

The number of associate's degrees awarded from academic year 2000–01 to 2011–12 increased by 66 percent for public institutions (from 456,000 to 756,000 degrees), by 19 percent for private nonprofit institutions (from 45,700 to 54,300 degrees), and by 170 percent for private for-profit institutions (from 76,700 to 207,000 degrees). Due to these changes, the share of all associate's degrees conferred by private for-profit institutions increased from 13 percent in 2000–01 to 20 percent in 2011–12, while the share conferred by public and private nonprofit institutions decreased from 2000–01 to 2011–12 (from 79 to 74 percent and from 8 to 5 percent, respectively). From 2010¬–11 to 2011–12, the number of associate's degrees awarded also increased across institutional controls: by 9 percent for public institutions, by 7 percent for private for-profit institutions, and by 5 percent for private nonprofit institutions.


Figure 2. Percentage distribution of bachelor's, master's, and doctor's degrees conferred by Title IV postsecondary institutions, by control of institution: Academic years 2000–01 and 2011–12

Figure 2. Percentage distribution of bachelor's, master's, and doctor's degrees conferred by Title IV postsecondary institutions, by control of institution: Academic years 2000–01 and 2011–12

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 2001 and Fall 2012, Completions component. See Digest of Education Statistics 2013, table 318.40.


From academic year 2000–01 to 2011–12, the number of bachelor's degrees awarded by public institutions increased by 39 percent (from 812,000 to 1.1 million degrees), the number awarded by private nonprofit institutions increased by 29 percent (from 409,000 to 527,000 degrees), and the number awarded by private for-profit institutions increased by 476 percent (from 23,000 to 133,000 degrees). Despite the gain made by private for-profit institutions, they awarded 7 percent of all bachelor's degrees conferred in 2011–12, while public institutions awarded 63 percent and private nonprofit institutions awarded 29 percent. From 2010–11 to 2011–12, the number of bachelor's degrees awarded also increased across institutional controls: by 16 percent for private for-profit institutions, by 4 percent for public institutions, and by 3 percent for private nonprofit institutions.

The number of master's degrees awarded by public institutions increased by 42 percent (from 246,000 to 349,000 degrees) from academic year 2000–01 to 2011–12, yet the percentage of all master's degrees conferred by these institutions declined from 52 to 46 percent. Similarly, the number of master's degrees conferred by private nonprofit institutions increased by 51 percent (from 216,000 to 325,000 degrees) from 2000–01 to 2011–12, 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 583 percent (from 11,600 to 79,500 degrees) from 2000–01 to 2011–12, resulting in an increase in these institutions' share of total master's degrees conferred (from 2 to 11 percent). The number of master's degrees conferred was higher in 2011–12 than in 2010–11 across all institutional controls: 4 percent higher for private nonprofit institutions, 3 percent higher for public institutions, and 2 percent higher for private for-profit institutions.

From academic year 2000–01 to 2011–12, the number of doctor's degrees conferred increased by 39 percent at public institutions (from 60,800 to 84,700 degrees), by 38 percent at private nonprofit institutions (from 57,700 to 79,500 degrees), and by 461 percent at private for-profit institutions (from 1,000 to 5,900 degrees). In 2011–12, public institutions awarded 50 percent of all doctor's degrees, private nonprofit institutions awarded 47 percent, and private for-profit institutions awarded 3 percent. From 2010–11 to 2011–12, the number of doctor's degrees conferred increased at all controls: by 12 percent for private for-profit institutions, by 4 percent for private nonprofit institutions, and by 3 percent for public institutions.


1 Except for certificates conferred by private nonprofit institutions, for which there was not a significant increase.

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