Record number of Arizona degrees awarded: New ABOR report shows crucial health-care degrees substantially increasing
Arizona’s public universities awarded more degrees than at any other point in the state’s history in the 2021-2022 academic year, including in high-demand health care fields, according to the new Arizona Board of Regents Academic Year 2021-2022 College Completion Report.
Key findings in the report include:
- A record 51,970 total degrees were conferred in 2021-2022, a 3 percent increase from the previous year.
- Arizona’s public universities awarded 36,423 undergraduate degrees in 2021-2022, a 1.7 percent increase since 2020-2021.
- More students are opting for advanced degrees with the universities conferring 15,547 graduate degrees in the 2021-2022 academic year, setting a record for the number of master’s and doctoral degrees awarded and increasing 6.3 percent since 2020-2021.
- The number of degrees awarded to historically underrepresented populations is increasing with 12,825 bachelor’s degrees awarded in the 2021-2022 academic year.
“Our universities are educating more students than ever before. This is good news for Arizona,” said ABOR Chair Lyndel Manson. “The board has long focused on getting more students to and through college. These increasing college graduation rates are encouraging as many of the students who graduate from the universities stay here and find jobs, contribute to our growing economy and realize better quality of life though higher education.”
The report indicates substantial growth in bachelor’s degrees in crucial health fields, increasing 56.1 percent since 2018, though there continues to be a shortage of health care professionals in the state.
“We must ensure we have enough doctors and nurses to care for our families and loved ones,” said ABOR Chair Elect Fred DuVal. “Arizona’s public universities are the pipeline into Arizona’s hospitals, health care facilities and doctors’ offices and the board is keenly focused on strategies to meet the increased workforce demand.”
Although students at Arizona’s public universities are earning degrees in record numbers, Arizona continues to lag the national average for residents with a bachelor’s degree. Approximately 46 percent of Arizona high school graduates go on to college compared with 66 percent nationally. And, while bachelor’s degrees awarded to Arizona residents rose 8 percent since 2017-2018, the rate fell 1.1 percent from 2021 to 2022. This is concerning during an era when it is estimated our state has an annual shortage of 26,300 bachelor’s degrees, leaving Arizona unprepared for a competitive workforce.
The board and universities are working to increase college going and completion rates in Arizona through several programs and initiatives, including the Arizona Promise Program that was established by the board with funding from the Arizona Legislature. The program enables resident students from eligible low-income families to attend the universities by covering tuition and fees not covered by other financial aid. Through the Arizona Teachers Academy, tuition is covered for students who agree to teach in Arizona schools.