Enrollment in subbaccalaureate occupational education
In 2011–12, some 38 percent of all credential–seeking undergraduates were subbaccalaureate occupational students.
Subbaccalaureate occupational students are most often enrolled in public 2–year institutions, followed by for–profit institutions
(see figure). However, while occupational students seeking an associate's degree enroll in public 2–year institutions more often than in for–profit institutions, occupational students seeking a certificate enroll in for–profit institutions more often than in 2–year public institutions.
Health sciences is the most common field of study pursued by subbaccalaureate occupational students, followed by business and marketing.
Females constitute the majority of students in subbaccalaureate occupational programs, and females constitute a larger percentage of the students in these programs than in subbaccalaureate academic programs or bachelor's degree programs.
The percentage of black students is larger in subbaccalaureate occupational programs than in subbaccalaureate academic programs or bachelor's degree programs, and the percentage of Hispanic students is larger in subbaccalaureate occupational programs than in bachelor's degree programs.
Compared to subbaccalaureate academic students and bachelor's degree students, subbaccalaureate occupational students are more often first–generation college students
(see figure) and are older in age
Enrollment among subbaccalaureate certificate students
From 2003–04 to 2011–12, the proportion of undergraduates who were seeking a subbaccalaureate
certificate increased slightly from 7 percent to 8 percent.
In 2011–12, some 34 percent of subbaccalaureate certificate seekers had already
earned a postsecondary certificate or degree, an increase from 28 percent in 2003–04.
In 2011–12, the predominant field of study for subbaccalaureate certificate seekers
was health care, comprising 42 percent of certificate enrollments.
Student Persistence, Attainment, and Labor Market Outcomes
Persistence and Attainment
Subbaccalaureate students have a lower rate of persistence and attainment than baccalaureate
students. (see figure for 6-year rate in 2009; see figure for 3-year rate in 2014)
But students seeking a subbaccalaureate credential in an occupational field of study
have a persistence and attainment rate that is not measurably different
from that of subbaccalaureate students in other fields of study. (see figure for 6-year rate in 2009; see figure for 3-year rate in 2014)
The 3-year persistence and attainment rate increased from the 2003-04 cohort to the 2011-12 cohort; however, rates did not measurably increase within each credential-seeking group (see figure).
Labor Market Outcomes
Students who complete a postsecondary credential have higher employment rates than
noncompleters, and those who earn a degree have higher employment rates than those
who earn a certificate. (see figure)
Compared to students who earn an academic credential, a higher proportion of students
who earn an occupational credential were employed in 2009. (see
Among employed completers, a higher proportion of those with an occupational credential
report working in a job related to their field of study, compared to those with
an academic credential. (see figure)
Institutions and Offerings
The number of postsecondary institutions was higher in 2014 than in 2000, particularly
among institutions that offer subbaccalaureate occupational education. (see
Among institutions overall, and among institutions offering subbaccalaureate occupational
education, growth was restricted to the for–profit sector (see
figure). As a result, for–profit
institutions increased from 47 percent of all institutions that offer subbaccalaureate
occupational education in 2000 to 57 percent in 2014. (see
In 2015, some 38 percent of all undergraduates credentials were awarded in subbaccalaureate occupational education
(see figure). From 2003 to 2015, the share of all undergraduate credential awards that were in subbaccalaureate occupational education increased from 39 to 42 (in 2011), then decreased to 38.
The number of subbaccalaureate occupational credential awards increased from 2003 to 2011, then decreased from 2011 to 2015.
In 2015, public institutions awarded almost two–thirds of all subbaccalaureate occupational credentials, whereas for–profit institutions awarded about one–third
(see figure). The share of subbaccalaureate occupational credentials awarded by public institutions decreased from 2003 to 2011, while for-profit institutions' share increased; the trend reversed after 2011. (see figure)
In 2015, some 75 percent of all subbaccalaureate occupational credentials were awarded in the four subject fields of health sciences (the predominant field), the trades, consumer services, and business management
(see figure). From 2003 to 2015, the number of subbaccalaureate credential awards increased in 10 of 13 occupational fields of study, but decreased in marketing, business support, and computer and information sciences.