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Projections of Education Statistics to 2016
NCES 2008-060
December 2007

Projection Methodology: Degrees Conferred

Projections of associate's, bachelor's, master's, doctor's, and first-professional degrees for men and women were based on demographic models that relate degree awards to college-age populations and college enrollment by level enrolled and attendance status. Table A-23 describes the estimated equations used to calculate projections, and table A-24 contains the basic assumptions underlying projections.

Associate's Degrees

Associate's degree projections for men and women were based on a weighted average over the last 2 years of total undergraduate enrollment by attendance status in 2-year institutions and sex relative to the 18- to 24-year-old population by sex. The previous year is weighted two-thirds, and 2 years back is weighted one-third. Results of the regression analysis used to project associate's degrees are shown in table A-23.

Bachelor's Degrees

Bachelor's degree projections for men and women were based on a weighted average over the last 4 years of full-time undergraduate enrollment by attendance status in 4-year institutions and sex relative to the 18- to 24-year-old population by sex. The weights for the previous 4 years—0.4, 0.3, 0.2, and 0.1—give more weight to the most recent years. Results of the regression analysis used to project bachelor's degrees are shown in table A-23.

Master's Degrees

Master's degree projections for men were based on a weighted average over the last 2 years of full-time graduate enrollment by attendance status and sex relative to the 25- to 34-year-old population by sex. Master's degree projections for women were based on a weighted average over the last 2 years of total graduate enrollment by attendance status and sex relative to the 25- to 34-year-old population by sex. In each case, the previous year is weighted two-thirds, and 2 years back is weighted one-third. Results of the regression analysis used to project master's degrees are shown in table A-23.

Doctor's Degrees

Doctor's degree projections for men were based on a weighted average over the last 4 years of total graduate enrollment by attendance status and sex relative to the 35- to 44-year-old population, by sex. Doctor's degree projections for women were based on a weighted average over the last 4 years of full-time enrollment by attendance status and sex relative to the 35- to 44- year-old population, by sex. In each case, the weights for the previous 4 years—0.4, 0.3, 0.2, and 0.1—give more weight to the most recent years. Results of the regression analysis used to project doctor's degrees are shown in table A-23.

First-Professional Degrees

First-professional degree projections for men were based on a weighted average over the last 3 years of total first-professional enrollment by attendance status in 4-year institutions and sex relative to the 25- to 34- year-old population by sex. First-professional degree projections for women were based on a weighted average over the last 3 years of first-professional enrollment by attendance status in 4-year institutions and sex relative to the 25- to 34-year old population by sex. In each case, the weights for the previous 3 years—0.5, 0.33, and 0.17—give more weight to the most recent years. Results of the regression analysis used to project first-professional degree are shown in table A-23.

Projection Accuracy

An analysis of projection errors from similar models used in the past nine editions of Projections of Education Statistics indicates that mean absolute percentage errors (MAPEs) for associate's degrees were 2.3 percent for 1 year out, 3.0 percent for 2 years out, 6.0 percent for 5 years out, and 14.8 percent for 10 years out. For the 1- year-out prediction, this means that one would expect the projection to be within 2.3 percent of the actual value, on average. MAPEs for bachelor's degree projections were 0.9 percent for 1 year out, 2.0 percent for 2 years out, 6.0 percent for 5 years out, and 11.2 percent for 10 years out. MAPEs for master's degrees were 1.6, 3.9, 12.3, and 19.8 percent, respectively. For doctor's degrees, the MAPEs were 2.6, 4.3, 4.1, and 4.5 percent, respectively. For first-professional degrees, the MAPEs were 1.3, 1.4, and 5.6 , and 12.4 percent, respectively. For more information on the MAPEs, see table A-2.

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