The University System of Maryland has seen a roughly 42 percent increase in the number of degrees it awarded over the past decade.
The system handed out 40,303 degrees in 2017, up from 28,240 in 2008.
Each of the system’s 11 public universities saw an increase during that time period, but no change was as significant as the one experienced at the University of Maryland University College.
The number of degrees earned at the online institution went up by about 120 percent, rising from 5,087 to 11,220. It’s the only school in the system that offers associate’s degrees, and the popularity of that degree path grew dramatically over the last 10 years.
In 2008, just 191 people graduated from UMUC with an associate’s degree. There were 1,530 associate’s degrees awarded last year.
“With the unemployment rate at record low levels, a college degree is a powerful tool to get that next promotion, switch careers or move up in your current job,” school spokesman Bob Ludwig wrote in a statement. “At UMUC, we are continually looking at ways to improve retention and enable students to move toward completing their degree.”
At the state flagship — the University of Maryland, College Park — the number of degrees awarded increased 18 percent over the 10-year period, from 9,053 to 10,713.
“The University System of Maryland is committed to providing affordable access to quality higher education, with a steady focus on increasing college completion rates,” system Chancellor Robert L. Caret said in a statement.
The school with the least dramatic growth over the 10 years was Bowie State University, which saw the number of degrees it awarded rise 8 percent. It handed out 1,035 degrees in 2017, 77 more than in 2008.
Bowie State spokeswoman Cassandra Robinson said degree production is driven by enrollment, which “ebbs and flows” over the years. In 2016, the university granted 1,179 diplomas before seeing a drop the next year.
But the university has worked to boost enrollment and retention, she said, and “we’re on track to maintain the overall trend of increasing degree production.”
In 2017, the latest year for which data is available, the programs that awarded the most degrees in the university system were: business & management, 8,658; computer & information science, 5,117; social sciences, 3,663; health professions, 3,571; and education, 3,102.
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The programs that handed out the fewest degrees were: foreign languages, 195; home economics, 182; architecture & environmental design, 128; area studies, 116; and library science, 73