Contact: Laura Osberger
February 11, 2021
For immediate release
RICHMOND — State Council for Higher Education of Virginia (SCHEV) released its annual report on the number of degrees and certificates earned by higher education
students. In 2019-20, Virginia’s public and private nonprofit colleges and universities awarded 122,869 degrees and certificates in areas such as health care, business, education, information technology and other demand fields. This is an increase
from last year’s record of 122,168 awards. In addition, institutions support training to complete industry-based certifications and registered apprenticeship programs.
Chart 1: Percentage of Awards by Institution and Award Type
- Bachelor’s degrees constitute the highest number of awards. of the 56,766 bachelor’s degrees conferred, public universities conferred the most at 38,790 and private nonprofit institutions conferred 17,976.
- Top bachelor’s degree programs include psychology, biology, liberal arts and sciences, business administration and nursing. Computer and information sciences, economics and political science rounded out the top eight programs.
All of these degree programs had at least 1,000 graduates in 2019-20; together they made up about 30% of all bachelor’s degrees at public institutions.
- The proportion of awards by race/ethnicity have changed over time and women represent the majority of recipients across all award types. The percent of Hispanic/Latinx individuals of total awards has increased 3 percentage points
over the last 10 years—the largest growth for any group. In addition, women continue to represent the majority (59%) of individuals receiving a degree or certification.
- While bachelor’s degrees grew slightly, associate degree awards declined slightly in 2019-20. ’s community colleges and Richard Bland College conferred 17,667 associate degrees compared to 17,934 in the previous year.
This decline coincides with a loss of enrollments at community colleges over the last several years.
- Degrees in STEM-H fields (science, technology, engineering, math and health professions) continued to grow. institutions awarded 28,372 STEM-H degrees, or 33% of all degrees – the highest number and percentage ever. Private
nonprofit colleges and universities awarded 9,995 STEM-H degrees, or 27% of all degrees.
- The decline in enrollment may impact state goals. Top Jobs Act of 2011 (TJ21) calls for the awarding, by 2025, of an additional 100,000 degrees to in-state undergraduates at public institutions and a “comparable increase”
in degree awards at private nonprofit institutions. These awards represent an important intermediate step of The Virginia Plan for Higher Education’s target of 1.5 million degrees and workforce credentials between 2014 and 2030. Enrollment
growth in Virginia has slowed, and the number of high school graduates will begin to decline after 2025. Unless more students enroll and complete degrees and certificates, especially at Virginia’s community colleges, the Commonwealth will
not meet TJ21’s degree-award goals for public institutions. A rebound in associate degrees and growth among non-credit credentials are critical to meeting statewide goals and workforce needs.
The full report and all SCHEV reports are available at schev.edu/reports.
The State Council of Higher Education for Virginia is the state’s coordinating agency for higher education. With The Virginia Plan for Higher Education, SCHEV is dedicated to making Virginia the best-educated state by 2030. For more on The Virginia Plan: schev.edu/TheVirginiaPlan.