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Projections of Education Statistics to 2019

NCES 2011-017
March 2011

Section 6. Postsecondary Degrees Conferred: Introduction

Continuing growth in enrollment in degree-granting institutions has been reflected by an increase in the number of degrees conferred. Increases in the number of degrees conferred are expected to continue between academic year 2007Ė08, the last year of actual data, and academic year 2019Ė20.

Factors affecting the projections

The projections of the number of degrees conferred are related to projections of the college-age populations developed by the Census Bureau and college enrollments from this report. For more details, see appendixes A.0 and A.6.

Factors that were not considered

Some factors that may affect future numbers of degrees, such as choice of degree and labor force requirements, were not included in the projection models.

About first-professional degrees

A first-professional degree is one that signifies both completion of the academic requirements for beginning practice in a given profession and a level of professional skill beyond that required for a bachelorís degree. A first-professional degree is based on a program requiring at least 2 academic years of work beyond the bachelorís degree. Degree fields include dentistry, medicine, optometry, osteopathic medicine, pharmacy, podiatric medicine, veterinary medicine, chiropractic, law, and theological professions.

Accuracy of Projections

An analysis of projection errors from the past 13 editions of Projections of Education Statistics indicates that the mean absolute percentage errors (MAPEs) for associateís degree projections were 2.0 percent for 1 year out, 3.4 percent for 2 years out, 6.2 percent for 5 years out, and 16.2 percent for 10 years out. The MAPEs for bachelorís degree projections were 0.8, 1.8, 5.9, and 13.6 percent, respectively, for lead times of 1, 2, 5, and 10 years out. The MAPEs for masterís degrees were 1.5, 3.3, 11.2, and 25.1 percent, respectively. For doctorís degrees, the MAPEs were 3.4, 5.6, 7.8, and 13.9 percent, respectively. For first-professional degrees, the MAPEs were 1.2, 1.6, 4.6, and 12.6 percent, respectively. For more information on the MAPEs of different NCES projection series, see table A-2, appendix A.

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