Create a free Diverse: Issues In Higher Education account to continue reading

Credentials Awarded Drop for Second Year in a Row


Caleb Woods R Ic Mw D Lk1wo UnsplashUndergraduate credentials awarded in the 2022–23 academic year fell by 2.8%, continuing its downward trend for the second year in a row. More students earned certificates than any year in the past decade, while associate degrees awarded fell to its lowest point in a decade and bachelor's degrees awarded fell to its lowest since 2015–16 academic year. These decreases happened whether the student was a first-time credential earner or had earned a credential before.

Those are the findings of the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center’s Undergraduate Earner’s Report for Spring 2024. The center collects and analyzes data from almost all U.S. postsecondary institutions.

“The rates of decline have nearly doubled from about 1.5% last year,” said Dr. Doug Shapiro, executive director of the Clearinghouse Research Center.

The cause could be attributed to a number of things, Shapiro said. It could be the result of the gradual decline in postsecondary enrollment seen in the nation since around 2010, or a result from the severe enrollment drops during the COVID-19 pandemic, seen particularly at community colleges.

These drops “erase the gains made between 2015 and 2020,” said Dr. Pietro A. Sasso, an associate professor of higher education and program coordinator at Delaware State University. The decreases, he added, make him nervous.

“In particular, I’m concerned about degree completion rates for women and for students of color, specifically Black males and Black women,” said Sasso. “Black women and Latina women made significant gains in degree completion, and we’re seeing that decline again.”

Every disaggregated racial group saw declines. Native Americans and Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders saw the most severe drops in credential attainment, while Latinx students saw the least decline. Until this year’s data, Latinx students had continued to see increases in the number of degrees awarded.

A New Track: Fostering Diversity and Equity in Athletics
American sport has always served as a platform for resistance and has been measured and critiqued by how it responds in critical moments of racial and social crises.
Read More
A New Track: Fostering Diversity and Equity in Athletics