In the ever-changing landscape of higher education, programs come and go. Using the 2015 IPEDS completions data in Analyst, we identified the fastest-growing programs of 2015.
We looked at the top programs based on the year-over-year growth of completions within two distinct groups: those between 1,000-20,000 completions in 2015 and those with more than 20,000. Doing so allows us to identify emerging programs and analyze the growth of well-known programs.
Fastest-Growing Programs: More Than 20,000 Completions
These well-known programs grew at an impressive clip. With 23% growth, computer science added more than 5,000 graduates to reach a total of 28,188 completions. Each of these programs saw at least 10% growth, meaning thousands more graduates year-over-year.
This growth isn’t a fluke. Aside from one down year in welding, the top three programs have grown every year since 2009. Each of them have nearly doubled their completions since then and there’s little indication that growth will slow. Numbers four and five also experienced steady growth since 2009 (about 30% each), but it’s not as dramatic as the top three.
- Computer Science—23% Growth
- Liberal Arts and Sciences, General Studies and Humanities, Other—18% Growth
- Welding Technology/Welder—17% Growth
- Computer and Information Sciences, General—13% Growth
- Electrical and Electronics Engineering—10% Growth
Fastest-Growing Programs: Less than 20,000 Completions
Technician programs dominate the top spots for growing programs with less than 20,000 completions in 2015. Multimedia and security programs also saw significant completions growth compared to 2014. All completions for programs in this group grew at least 50%, with the top two more than doubling in size.
Most of these academic programs are focused on a specific job or career path, making it easier for us to see how the market influences program growth—and deduce which skills are in demand. The exception is intermedia/multimedia, which can lead to many careers.
- Intermedia/Multimedia—155% Growth
- Security and Loss Prevention Services—152% Growth
- Medium/Heavy Vehicle and Truck Technology/Technician—84% Growth
- Heavy Equipment Maintenance Technology/Technician—70% Growth
- Electrical and Electronic Engineering Technologies/Technicians, Other—50% Growth
As most academic programs are vulnerable to the sway of market demand and student interest, this list could look very different for 2016—especially for those programs with less than 20,000 completions. However, as many community colleges are shifting their focus to career-oriented education, technical programs are likely to stay in high demand.
About the Data
All programs were analyzed at the 6-digit CIP level using the Emsi 2016.2 dataset.
We filtered out academic programs with less than 1,000 completions because relatively small changes in graduates could result in large, but less meaningful, growth rates.