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2018-19 Marks Continued Growth of Bachelor's Degrees and STEM-H Credentials in Virginia

by Elizabeth Liverman | Jan 03, 2020


Contact: Wendy Kang , (804) 225-4416

January 2, 2020

2018-19 Marks Continued Growth of Bachelor's Degrees and STEM-H Credentials in Virginia

RICHMOND — More people earned bachelor’s degrees in Virginia in 2018-19 than ever before, including a record number of degrees in Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Health (STEM-H) fields, according to recent research by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia.

During 2018-19, Virginia’s public and private nonprofit colleges and universities awarded 122,168 degrees and certificates, a nearly 50% increase from a decade ago. In-state students accounted for 86,325, or over 70%, of these awards.

Of the 122,168 awards:

  • bachelor’s degrees made up 46% (56,484), 
  • graduate degrees made up 25% (31,094), 
  • associate degrees made up 16% (19,228) 
  • and certificates made up 13% (15,362). 

These data do not include credentials earned through the Workforce Credential Grant program or through the Department of Labor and Industry registered apprenticeship program. Those data will be available later.

Students attending public four-year institutions received 45% of all awards, the most of any sector. Students attending public two-year and private nonprofit four-year institutions received 27% and 28% of all rewards respectively.

The top three bachelor’s degree programs remain unchanged from previous years: Business Administration and Management, Psychology and Biology/Biological Sciences. These three majors accounted for 19% of all bachelor’s degrees. Computer and Information Sciences rose from twelfth in 2017-18 to eighth in the last year. This program has grown in popularity in the last decade, when it was ranked 23rd in 2008-09. 

Virginia continues to make progress towards its goal of becoming the best-educated state in the nation by 2030, a goal SCHEV set in 2014 as part of The Virginia Plan for Higher Education.  With this latest report, Virginia has awarded 445,851 undergraduate degrees and certificates since 2014, with an average annual growth of 1.5% over the last five years. Assuming Virginia keeps that pace, students in the Commonwealth will earn approximately 1,543,000 awards by 2030.

Previous SCHEV reports suggest that the state will need to take additional efforts to ensure that degree and certificate completion is both sufficient and aligned with the workforce needs of the future. In October, for example, SCHEV completed a Strategic Finance Plan for Higher Education that explores the relationship between degrees produced and the overall attainment goal. The finance plan identified that Virginia should increase efforts to provide opportunities for more Virginians to earn associate degrees, certificates and workforce credentials.

SCHEV’s research website on awards and degrees empowers users to explore data by type of degree, institution, program or major, and race and ethnicity of graduates.


Media resources — including links to downloadable high-resolution photos and logos, news advisories and releases — are available at

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, please visit

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