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UW–Madison degrees surpass 10,000 for the first time

December 8, 2011 By Greg Bump

The University of Wisconsin–Madison and its students are doing what they can to meet the nation’s demands for more college graduates.

In the 2010–11 academic year, UW–Madison for the first time eclipsed the 10,000-mark for undergraduate, graduate and doctorate degrees conferred.

Photo: Commencement

UW–Madison’s degree count hit an all-time high in 2010–11.

Photo: Jeff Miller

“This takes a tremendous amount of support from the entire university community” says Joanne Berg, vice provost for enrollment management. “Besides each and every student engaging in the learning process, there are advisors, degree audit specialists, student life professionals and myriad other experts on campus who go above and beyond to help students get to commencement and beyond. It really does take a village.”

Beginning with the summer session in 2010 and including the fall 2010 and spring 2011 semesters, UW–Madison conferred 10,099 degrees: 6,579 bachelor’s, 2,105 master’s, 754 research doctorates, and 661 professional/clinical doctorates.

“These indicators suggest and support the importance of higher education to our state and national economy,” Provost Paul M. DeLuca Jr. says. “UW–Madison continues to perform at the highest level.”

The high degree numbers follow from increasing student enrollment at all levels and improved graduation rates at the undergraduate level, according to Jocelyn Milner, associate provost and director for academic planning and analysis.

“More undergraduates are completing their degrees and more are doing so in a timely way,” Milner says.

The four-year graduation rate for students who entered as new freshmen in 2007 is at 55 percent, the highest four-year percentage since the current methodology for tracking the statistic began in the 1980s. The six-year graduation rate for freshmen entering the university in 2005 is 83 percent.

The retention rate for all freshmen enrolled in 2010 and returning in 2011 is 94 percent, down slightly from last year’s high of 95 percent.

Master’s programs issuing the most degrees were business (112), library and informational science (95), social work (92), accounting (88), and electrical engineering (83).

The number of master’s degrees conferred is up 200 from last year’s mark.

“Although these data don’t tell us about peoples motives, we can speculate that students are getting master’s degrees to be better prepared for the economic situation,” Milner said.

The undergraduate major with the most degrees conferred over the span was economics, with 432, followed by political science (449), biology (431), history (362) and psychology (361).

The highest year ever for bachelor’s degrees was 2008-09, when 6,625 were conferred.

The previous high for all degrees was 9,867 issued in 2009. In 2010, 9,804 degrees were conferred.

The university saw higher enrollments in the mid-1980s, reaching as high as 45,000 students, though the degree counts in that era were not as high. Enrollment at UW–Madison for the 2011 fall semester is 42,441, down slightly from 42,595 in the fall of 2010.