Kentucky: Council on Postsecondary Education

Council on Postsecondary Education

Press Release Date:  Monday, June 01, 2009  
Contact Information:  Sue Patrick
Phone: 502-573-1652, ext. 308
Cell: 502-330-6596

Note to Editors: Detailed information by institution is available at May 2009 Degrees

     Kentucky’s public and independent postsecondary institutions reached an historic milestone by conferring 30,178 degrees, diplomas and certificates during spring commencement exercises last month. This is a 7 percent increase over last year and a 40 percent increase over five years.

     According to the preliminary system report issued today by the Council, one-year increases were seen at most degree and credential levels. A final report will be available this fall.

     The preliminary information shows that doctoral degrees climbed 20 percent from this time one year ago. Master’s/specialists were also up 20 percent, baccalaureate degrees-6 percent, associate degrees-15 percent, and diplomas (issued for specific programs requiring 30 hours or more) were up 14 percent. Slight decreases were reported in certificates, down 1 percent, and first-professional degrees decreased 3 percent from one year ago.

     “These increases are largely a reflection of our campuses’ collective focus to meet the transformative goals of Kentucky’s educational reforms,” stated Robert King, president of the Council. “I applaud the leadership, faculty and staff of our campuses, as well as the students themselves who made it a personal priority to complete their educational goal.”

    King said that this progress is especially significant in the current economic climate. “The best way to grow a robust and prosperous economy and improve the quality of life for Kentuckians is through higher education,” he said. “We must remain committed to an improved Kentucky even in a challenging economy.”

     Among the report’s key findings:

  • For the public institutions, Eastern Kentucky University saw the largest growth in bachelor’s degrees this spring, posting an increase of 15.5 percent over last year. Morehead State
    University followed with a 15 percent increase and Northern Kentucky University with 14 percent.
  • While bachelor’s degrees statewide increased 6 percent, larger increases were reported at other levels. Independent institutions, Eastern Kentucky University, Morehead State University, Murray State University and University of Kentucky all saw substantial one-year increases in the number of master’s and specialist degrees, which grew 20 percent overall. 
  • Kentucky Community and Technical College System increased associate degrees by 18 percent over 2008.
  • When comparing 2009 to 2008, several institutions saw one-year dips in degrees at one or more levels.  Most of these changes are due to year-to-year fluctuations in the number of graduates and are to be expected even when the overall trend is moving upward.  Other drops are due to changes in program mix at the institutional level.

     Looking at the data over a five-year period illustrates the upward trend in degree completions at all levels--

  • Baccalaureate degrees increased 24 percent in five years, associate degrees 32 percent and doctoral degrees 64 percent.
  • Over a five-year period, EKU saw the largest growth among four‐year institutions, increasing 48 percent in five years, with a 60 percent growth in baccalaureate degrees.
  • KCTCS continues to pursue both academic and workforce missions with tremendous growth in certificates, 125 percent in five years, as well as a 43 percent increase in associate degrees awarded. Overall, KCTCS’s spring degrees grew by 72 percent in the five-year period.
  • UK and UofL are showing significant progress toward their HB 1 goals of becoming premier research institutions. UK’s spring doctoral degrees increased 70 percent in five years, and UofL’s increased 21 percent. The undergraduate focus of UofL is also changing, with more baccalaureate degrees and fewer sub-baccalaureate degrees and credentials.
  • The independent colleges in the Association of Independent Kentucky Colleges and Universities also reported strong performance, with a 23 percent increase in baccalaureate degrees over the past five years. Graduates from master’s and doctoral programs have increased substantially as well, especially at Spalding University, University of the Cumberlands and Union College.


     Kentucky’s postsecondary and adult education system is improving the economic vitality of the Commonwealth and the lives of Kentuckians. By raising educational attainment to the national average by 2020, Kentucky will attract higher wage and knowledge-based business and industry and the overall quality of life for Kentuckians will improve with higher incomes and levels of employment, better health, less obesity, more volunteerism, and lower crime and public assistance rates.



Last Updated 6/1/2009