A new report from Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce finds that nationally, colleges are awarding as many certificates and associate degrees combined as they are awarding bachelor’s degrees. Colleges award about two million bachelor’s degrees annually and about one million associate degrees and one million certificates.
The study also found that field of study is very important in determining earnings for certificate holders and associate degree holders. A worker with an associate degree may outearn one with a bachelor’s, and a worker with a certificate may outearn one with an associate degree, depending on field of study. Workers with lower-tier degrees who studied engineering, construction or health fields have a good possibility of outearning their peers with bachelor’s degrees who studied the liberal arts or humanities.
The report also found more students are enrolled in certificate and associate programs than are enrolled in bachelor’s programs. Those enrolled in certificate and associate programs are disproportionately racial and ethnic minorities. Students enrolled in bachelor’s degree programs are disproportionately white.