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by Mark White, Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics, University of Illinois

This brief represents the first in a series exploring trends in agricultural-related degree and certification completers from U.S. post-secondary institutions. This first brief relies upon program completer data available through the U.S. Department of Education National Center for Education Statistics' (NCES) Integrated Post-secondary Education Data System (IPEDS).[1]

It focuses on the scale of completions over time, and by state, and how award completions vary by program area. These data, therefore, show changes in how many potential new workers are entering this workforce, as well as the agricultural-related fields that attract the greatest student interest.

Animal and Business-Related Programs Produce the Most Agricultural-Related Degrees and Certifications

In 2021, U.S. post-secondary institutions awarded approximately 52,500 degrees and certifications in agricultural-related fields between July 1, 2020 and June 30, 2021.[2]

Figure 1 shows the number of awards by program area. [3] Almost half of all awards came from three program areas--veterinary/animal health technologies, animal sciences (incl. animal health and nutrition, dairy science, and livestock management, among other fields), and agricultural business and management.

Another third of agricultural-related awards came from programs areas such as veterinary medicine, agricultural production operations, general agriculture, applied horticulture, and plant sciences.

Many different types of institutions awarded these degrees and certifications. For instance, the nation's 123 land-grant institutions[4] were the leading source of agricultural-related degrees and certifications by accounting for 45.8% of all agricultural-related degrees and certifications during this period. Two-year institutions also played an important role, as 30.0% of these awards went to students completing degrees and certifications at two-year institutions.

Agricultural-Related Post-secondary Awards Grew Since 2003, but Not at the Same Pace as Awards Nationally

Figure 2 is an index showing the growth in agricultural degrees and awards since 2003.[5] Agricultural-related degrees and certifications have grown 46 percent since 2003, but for most of the past two decades this growth occurred at a slower pace than post-secondary awards overall (which grew 57% during the same period). The relatively larger millennial generation pursuing post-secondary education was an important contributor to this growth, but some program areas also attracted more students than others.

To read the entire report click here.

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