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Annual Reports and Information Staff (Annual Reports)
Postsecondary Education

Undergraduate Degree Fields

(Last Updated: May 2021)

In 2018–19, over two-thirds of the 1.0 million associate’s degrees conferred by postsecondary institutions within the United States were concentrated in three fields of study: liberal arts and sciences, general studies, and humanities (410,600 degrees); health professions and related programs (182,600 degrees); and business (116,800 degrees). Of the 2.0 million bachelor’s degrees conferred in 2018–19, some 58 percent were concentrated in six fields of study: business (390,600 degrees); health professions and related programs (251,400 degrees); social sciences and history (160,600 degrees); engineering (126,700 degrees); biological and biomedical sciences (121,200 degrees); and psychology (116,500 degrees).

In 2018–19 postsecondary institutions within the United States1 conferred 3.0 million degrees. These included 1.0 million associate’s degrees and 2.0 million bachelor’s degrees, up from 848,900 and 1.6 million in 2009–10, respectively. At both levels, business and health professions and related programs were among the most common fields of study in which degrees were conferred.

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Figure 1. Number of associate’s degrees conferred by postsecondary institutions in selected fields of study: 2009–10 through 2018–19
Figure 1. Number of associate’s degrees conferred by postsecondary institutions in selected fields of study: 2009–10 through 2018–19

1 In order to be consistent with the definition of “business” for bachelor’s degree data, “business” is defined as business, management, marketing, and related support services, as well as personal and culinary services.

2 Multi/interdisciplinary studies are instructional programs that derive from two or more distinct programs to provide a cross-cutting focus on a subject concentration that is not subsumed under a single discipline or occupational field. Examples include biological and physical sciences, peace studies and conflict resolution, systems science and theory, and mathematics and computer science.

NOTE: Data are for the 50 states and the District of Columbia. The fields shown are the six programs in which the largest number of associate’s degrees were conferred in 2018–19. Data are for postsecondary institutions participating in Title IV federal financial aid programs. Data have been adjusted where necessary to conform to the 2009–10 Classification of Instructional Programs. Some data have been revised from previously published figures.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), Fall 2010 through Fall 2019, Completions component. See Digest of Education Statistics 2020, table 321.10.

Figure 2. Percentage of associate’s degrees conferred in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields, by race/ethnicity and nonresident status: 2018–19
Figure 2. Percentage of associate’s degrees conferred in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields, by race/ethnicity and nonresident status: 2018–19

NOTE: Data are for the 50 states and the District of Columbia. STEM fields include biological and biomedical sciences, computer and information sciences, engineering and engineering technologies, mathematics and statistics, and physical sciences and science technologies. Data are for postsecondary institutions participating in Title IV federal financial aid programs. Race categories exclude persons of Hispanic ethnicity. Race/ethnicity categories exclude nonresident aliens. Although rounded numbers are displayed, the figures are based on unrounded data.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), Fall 2019, Completions component. See Digest of Education Statistics 2020, tables 318.45 and 321.30.

Figure 3. Percentage distribution of associate’s degrees conferred by postsecondary institutions in selected fields of study, by sex: 2018–19
Figure 3. Percentage distribution of associate’s degrees conferred by postsecondary institutions in selected fields of study, by sex: 2018–19

1 In order to be consistent with the definition of “business” for bachelor’s degree data, “business” is defined as business, management, marketing, and related support services, as well as personal and culinary services.

2 Multi/interdisciplinary studies are instructional programs that derive from two or more distinct programs to provide a cross-cutting focus on a subject concentration that is not subsumed under a single discipline or occupational field. Examples include biological and physical sciences, peace studies and conflict resolution, systems science and theory, and mathematics and computer science.

NOTE: Data are for the 50 states and the District of Columbia. The fields shown are the six programs in which the largest number of associate’s degrees were conferred in 2018–19. 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 2019, Completions component. See Digest of Education Statistics 2020, table 321.10.

Figure 4. Number of bachelor’s degrees conferred by postsecondary institutions in selected fields of study: 2009–10 through 2018–19
Figure 4. Number of bachelor’s degrees conferred by postsecondary institutions in selected fields of study: 2009–10 through 2018–19

1 “Business” is defined as business, management, marketing, and related support services, as well as personal and culinary services.

NOTE: Data are for the 50 states and the District of Columbia. The fields shown are the six programs in which the largest number of bachelor’s degrees were conferred in 2018–19. Data are for postsecondary institutions participating in Title IV federal financial aid programs. Data have been adjusted where necessary to conform to the 2009–10 Classification of Instructional Programs. Some data have been revised from previously published figures.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), Fall 2010 through Fall 2019, Completions component. See Digest of Education Statistics 2020, table 322.10.

Figure 5. Percentage of bachelor’s degrees conferred in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields, by race/ethnicity and nonresident status: 2018–19
Figure 5. Percentage of bachelor’s degrees conferred in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields, by race/ethnicity and nonresident status: 2018–19

NOTE: Data are for the 50 states and the District of Columbia. STEM fields include biological and biomedical sciences, computer and information sciences, engineering and engineering technologies, mathematics and statistics, and physical sciences and science technologies. Data are for postsecondary institutions participating in Title IV federal financial aid programs. Race categories exclude persons of Hispanic ethnicity. Race/ethnicity categories exclude nonresident aliens. Although rounded numbers are displayed, the figures are based on unrounded data.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), Fall 2019, Completions component. See Digest of Education Statistics 2020, tables 318.45 and 322.30.

Figure 6. Percentage distribution of bachelor’s degrees conferred by postsecondary institutions in selected fields of study, by sex: 2018–19
Figure 6. Percentage distribution of bachelor’s degrees conferred by postsecondary institutions in selected fields of study, by sex: 2018–19

1 “Business” is defined as business, management, marketing, and related support services, as well as personal and culinary services.

NOTE: Data are for the 50 states and the District of Columbia. The fields shown are the six programs in which the largest number of bachelor’s degrees were conferred in 2018–19. 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 2019, Completions component. See Digest of Education Statistics 2020, tables 322.40 and 322.50.


1 Data in this indicator represent the 50 states and the District of Columbia.

2 Personal and culinary services have been added to the definition of “business” for associate’s degree data in order to be consistent with the definition of “business” for bachelor’s degree data. Thus, for all data in this indicator, “business” is defined as business, management, marketing, and related support services, as well as personal and culinary services.

3 In the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), racial/ethnic data were not collected for nonresident alien students, and their data were compiled as a separate group.

4 Multi/interdisciplinary studies are instructional programs that derive from two or more distinct programs to provide a cross-cutting focus on a subject concentration that is not subsumed under a single discipline or occupational field. Examples include biological and physical sciences, peace studies and conflict resolution, systems science and theory, and mathematics and computer science.

5 STEM fields include biological and biomedical sciences, computer and information sciences, engineering and engineering technologies, mathematics and statistics, and physical sciences and science technologies. Construction trades and mechanic and repair technologies/technicians are categorized as engineering technologies in some tables to facilitate trend comparisons but are not included as STEM fields in this indicator.

Supplemental Information

Table 318.45 (Digest 2020): Number and percentage distribution of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) degrees/certificates conferred by postsecondary institutions, by race/ethnicity, level of degree/certificate, and sex of student: 2009-10 through 2018-19;
Table 321.10 (Digest 2020): Associate's degrees conferred by postsecondary institutions, by sex of student and field of study: 2008-09 through 2018-19;
Table 321.30 (Digest 2020): Associate's degrees conferred by postsecondary institutions, by race/ethnicity and field of study: 2017-18 and 2018-19;
Table 322.10 (Digest 2020): Bachelor's degrees conferred by postsecondary institutions, by field of study: Selected years, 1970-71 through 2018-19;
Table 322.30 (Digest 2020): Bachelor's degrees conferred by postsecondary institutions, by race/ethnicity and field of study: 2017-18 and 2018-19;
Table 322.40 (Digest 2020): Bachelor's degrees conferred to males by postsecondary institutions, by race/ethnicity and field of study: 2017-18 and 2018-19;
Table 322.50 (Digest 2020): Bachelor's degrees conferred to females by postsecondary institutions, by race/ethnicity and field of study: 2017-18 and 2018-19
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