Post-Baccalaureate Degrees on the Rise

Posted by John H. Heinrichs

Nov 25

Overview of Degrees and Certificates

The PBISM-Nova_(300x227)baccalauerate degree is the most common first degree earned by students in the United States higher education system. The baccalauerate degree usually includes academic requirements for the breadth as well as the depth in a chosen field of study.  To earn the baccalauerate degree, students must fulfill general studies requirements thereby obtaining introductory knowledge in several subject areas.  In addition, students focus their studies in concentration (or major) areas. (5)

A number of higher education institutions have begun offering post-baccalaureate programs that permit a student to earn a specialized certificate. These specialized post-baccalauereate certificates provide evidence that the student has a mastery of specific knowledge and skills or that the student has completed additional requirements thus permitting access to professional licenses (such as teaching, medical, and accounting fields). These post-baccalaureate certificates usually can be completed in as little as a single academic year. (5)

Post Baccalaureate Degrees on the Rise

There are a variety of degrees and/or certificates that an individual can pursue after earning their bachelor degree.  These include post-bachelor certificates, master's degrees, post-master's certificates, first-professional degrees (those programs such as law, medicine, and dentistry), and doctoral degrees. (6)  Each certificate/degree typically has its own unique requirements.  For example, postbaccalaureate certificates are viewed as "an award that requires completion of an organized program of study equivalent to (a certain number of) semester credit hours beyond the bachelor's (degree).  It is designed for (individuals) who have completed a baccalaureate degree." (3)

The number of post-baccalaureate certificates and degrees granted in the United States has continued to grow. (1)   Based upon information provided by the U.S. Department of Education, the total enrollment in postbaccalaureate programs increased from 2.2 million students during the fall semester of 2000 to 2.8 million students by the fall semester of 2009.  This change in postbaccalaureate enrollment represents the largest percent increase in enrollment since the 1970s.  By the fall of 2011 enrollment had increased to over 2.9 million students and by the fall of 2021 it is projected that the postbaccalaureate enrollment will exceed 3.5 million students. (2)  Interestingly, since 1988 the number of females in postbaccalaureate programs has exceeded the number of males in those programs. Further, as highlighted in the figure below, between fall 2011 and fall 2021 female student enrollment is projected to increase by 22% while male student enrollment is expected to increase by 12%.

Projected Enrollment by Gender

As seen in the next figure, in the fall semester of 2011, there were approximately 1.6 million full-time students and 1.3 million part-time students.  Since the fall of 1970, the number of full-time postbaccalaureate students more than tripled, and the number of part-time postbaccalaureate students almost doubled. (2)  Between 2000 and 2010, the number of full-time male postbaccalaureate students increased by 38% and the number of part-time male postbaccalauerate students increased by 17% whereas the number of full-time female postbaccalaureate students increased by 62%  and the number of part-time female postbaccalaureate students increased by 26%. (5)  

Projected Enrollment by Attendance Status

Both the above figures, projected enrollment by gender and projected enrollment by attendance, highlight that individuals perceive value in obtaining post baccalaureate education.  Enrollment is increasing in post baccalaureate programs and it is projected to continue to increase. 

Value of Post Baccalaureate Programs

Given that the enrollment has been and is expected to increase, it may be interesting to determine why this is occurring.  One potential answer could be the projected earning potential of the individual with the degree.  The following figure highlights the median annual earnings of workers between the ages of 25 and 34 by their attained educational level.  It is interesting to note that in 2011, those individuals who had a bachelor’s degree earned almost twice as much as those individuals without a high school diploma.  Additionally, the median of earnings for those individuals with a master’s degree or higher was $59,200. This is approximately 32% more than for those individuals that only earned a bachelor’s degree.

Salary by degree

In 2012, approximately 33% of 25 to 29 year-old individuals had completed the requirements for a bachelor’s degree or higher. 

Educational Attainment Across OECD Countries

Data also compares the educational attainment of individuals from the United States with the Organization for Ecomonic Co-operation and Development countries over time and by the individuals age.  Formed in 1961, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is an organization currently consisting of 34 member countries whose mission is to promote policies that improve the economic and social well-being of people around the world.  As seen in the figure below, the United States is compared with the average OECD member countries completion rates for bachelor’s degree for the adult population (ages 25 to 64).  The percentage individuals (ages 25 to 64) who had earned a college degree was higher in 2010 (22%) than in 2001 (15%) for the average OECD members. The percentage of the U.S. adult population with a bachelor’s or higher degree was 32% in 2010 compared with 28% in 2001. In 2010, 21 OECD member countries reported that 20% or more of their adult populations had completed a bachelor’s degree or higher.  Among all OECD member countries, the percentages of bachelor’s degree awarded ranged from under 15% in the countries of Austria, Italy, Slovenia, and Turkey, to over 30% in Israel, Norway, and United States. (2)

OECD - Age and Year for Degree  

Post Bachelor Certificate in Information Systems and Management

To best position yourself in the job market, it is essential that you review your educational credentials.  The post-baccalaureate certificate in information systems management (PBISM) in the School of Business Administration at Wayne State University is designed for those individuals who desire advanced training in systems analysis and design, databases, web development tools, and other emerging technologies. It is a totally online program providing the student with the most flexibility to earn their certificate.  The certificate consists of five (5) required courses and three (3) elective courses. For more information, view the Post-Bachelor Certificate in Information Systems and Management website. (  So, consider expanding your options and your potential by investing your time to earn your post-baccalauerate certificate / degree from an AACSB accredited program.  



  1. Stevenson, A. (2013). The Male-Female Gap in Post-Baccalaureate School Quality, Economics of Education Review. 36 pp. 153-165.
  2. Aud, S., Wilkinson-Flicker, S., Kristapovich, P., Rathbun, A., Wang, X., and Zhang, J. (2013). The Condition of Education 2013 (NCES 2013-037). U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. Washington, DC. Retrieved November 11, 2013 from
  3. Snyder, T.D., and Dillow, S.A. (2012).  Digest of Education Statistics 2011 (NCES 2012-001). National Center for Education Statistics, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education. Washington, DC. Retrieved November 11, 2013 from
  4. The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) Retrieved November 11, 2013 from
  5. Structure of the U.S. Education System: Bachelor’s Degrees International Affairs Office, U.S. Department of Education (Feb 2008) Retrieved November 11, 2013 from
  6. Knapp, L.G., Kelly-Reid, J.E., Ginder, S.A., and Miller, E. (2007). Postsecondary Institutions in the United States: Fall 2006 and Degrees and Other Awards Conferred: 2005-06 (NCES 2007-166). National Center for Education Statistics, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education. Washington, DC. Retrieved November 12, 2013  from
  7. The composite image shows the Cassiopeia A supernova remnant across the spectrum.  Credit: NASA/DOE/Fermi LAT Collaboration, CXC/SAO/JPL-Caltech/Steward/O. Krause et al., and NRAO/AUI For more information visit:  NASA Goddard Space Flight Center is home to the nation's largest organization of combined scientists, engineers and technologists that build spacecraft, instruments and new technology to study the Earth, the sun, our solar system, and the universe.


Topics: Certificates

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