Kentucky ranks 8th in nation in total degree, credential growth

The Council on Postsecondary Education issued the “Kentucky Completion Report” on Tuesday, February 16, 2015, that shows total degrees and credentials awarded grew 59 percent over a 10-year period, from 39,203 awards in 2003-04 to 62,339 awards in 2012-13. This growth at Kentucky’s public two-year, four-year and independent sectors ranked eighth in the nation.

“Clearly, this report confirms that Kentucky has a very positive story to tell. Our campuses have made remarkable progress in ramping up degree production and more closely aligning degrees and credentials to workforce needs,” said Council President Bob King.

Kentucky’s largest 10-year growth, at 159 percent, was in undergraduate workforce certificates. The number of certificates grew by more than 12,000 awards between 2004-05 and 2013-14, according to the report.

When it comes to fields of study, the greatest growth was in workforce trades, up 111 percent; health, up 85 percent; and STEM, up 51 percent.

Associate degrees also made significant gains with a 52 percent increase, while bachelor’s degrees grew steadily at 24 percent.

From 2004-05 through 2013-14, the growth in total degrees and credentials awarded in Kentucky rose 53 percent, up from 42,773 in 2004-05 to 65,481 in 2013-14. However, there is cause for caution since the pace of growth is slowing.

The growth in total awards was led by the two-year public sector with 101 percent increase, climbing from 15,741 awards in 2004-05 to 31,715 awards in 2013-14. These gains were bolstered by steady increases by the independents at 43 percent and four-year publics at 20 percent.

The mix of degree and credential types awarded in Kentucky shifted as the number of degrees and credentials awarded grew, according to the report.

The largest shift occurred in the share of certificates awarded. In 2004-05, undergraduate certificates accounted for only 19 percent of all degrees and credentials awarded, but by 2013-14, undergraduate certificates climbed to 31 percent of all postsecondary degrees and credentials awarded in Kentucky.

The second largest shift came in the share of baccalaureate degrees awarded. In 2004-05, baccalaureate degrees represented 41 percent of total awards, but fell to 33 percent of all awards by 2013-14.

Men earned fewer degrees and credentials than women but their attainment growth in the past five years outpaced that of women.

The number of degrees and credentials earned by Hispanic students increased 125 percent overall since 2004-05.

The report, including conclusions and recommendations, is available at


Data notes: Two data sets were used in the report. The national comparison mentioned in the first paragraph came from data from the National Center for Education Statistics Integrated Postsecondary Data System for years 2003-04 to 2012-13, while the Kentucky trend numbers reflect more recent data from the Kentucky Postsecondary Education Data System (KPEDS) for the 10-year period beginning 2004-05 and ending 2013-14.



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