Spring report: Non-credential programs drive enrollment as bachelor’s, postgrad falter

UB University Business

Alcino Donadel
May 24, 2023
When broken down by sector, bachelor’s degree-seeking programs for students only experienced a positive growth rate at for-profit institutions. “Graduate/professional programs,” on the other hand, declined across all sectors.
When aggregating every higher education sector, bachelor’s degrees and graduate credentials were the two most prominent programs driving overall spring enrollment down by 0.2%, according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center’s spring 2023 enrollment estimates. Only non-degree programs experienced an increase in enrollment (4.8%), proving to be a key ingredient for two different sectors’ positive spring enrollment numbers.
Public 2-year and for-profit 4-year colleges were the only sectors to experience a positive enrollment rate, and it’s partially attributable to their non-credential and certificate programs. For example, non-degree offerings experienced a 14% gain at for-profits, the highest rate across all its programs. Since spring 2020, non-degree offerings have exploded in this sector by 115%, contributing to its third consecutive year of positive enrollment growth. Moreover, non-degree offerings at community colleges grew by 2.3%, contributing to two-year colleges’ first positive growth rate since spring 2020 (0.5%).