3 Reasons Associate Degree Demand is on the Rise

October 18, 2017 Melissa Piccinich

Associate degrees seem to be growing in popularity among prospective students. According to the Sparkroom Q2 2017 Higher Education Inquiry Generation Review, since 2016 and throughout the first half of 2017, associate degrees increased in all three key metrics: share of volume (SOV), conversion rate (CVR) and share of conversions (SOC).

The current climate of the U.S. job market may be fueling this increased interest. Health professions are one of the fastest-growing industries in the U.S. Within this field are many support, technical and administrative roles that require only an associate degree for employment.

Student interest in associate degree programs has been on an upward trajectory since Q4 2015. Almost 25% of all lead volume in the first half of 2017 was for associate degree programs. Associate degree programs generated 33% of all SOV for online program leads. Just over 25% of all conversions in Q1 2017 were for associate programs, a surmountable increase from 20.6% in 2016. Both SOV and CVR for associate degrees have experienced a similar ascending pattern. Even with a dip in Q1 2017, associate degree program CVR for the quarter is higher than average in 2015 and 2016.

Associate Degree-Related Healthcare Professions Show Rapid Growth

There is a wide array of support-level occupations within the healthcare industry, most which only require obtaining an associate level degree. The healthcare industry overall is projected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to grow 19% from 2014 to 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations, adding about 2.3 million new jobs. In Q2 2017, the top associate programs ranked by inquiry SOV were:

  • Medical Insurance Coding Specialist/Coder
  • Medical Office Assistant/Specialist
  • Business Administration and Management, General
  • Human Services, General
  • Health/Health Care Administration/Management

Three of the top five ranked programs are related to support-level healthcare occupations. Data from the BLS indicates medical insurance coders and similar roles are expected to grow by 15% through 2024. Medical office assistants can expect an additional 138,900 jobs added from 2014 to 2024, a growth rate more than three times the national average for all occupations. In fact, some associate-degree professions have the highest projected overall growth across the healthcare industry.

For many students, seeking a degree is a means to a goal. Whether their goal is a vertical enhancement in their current careers or a step forward in a new direction, often students seeking degrees identify financial benefits with degree completion. Typically, an associate degree requires fewer credit hours for completion than a bachelor’s degree. Associate degree programs present a high ROI for both time and money spent for prospective students.

Degree-Level Distribution Rankings

The Sparkroom Q2 2017 Higher Education Inquiry Generation Review addresses overall trends in the inquiry and student acquisition activities of higher education institutions for the period of January 2016-June 2017, with a focus on April-June 2017. The report details trends related to inquiry volume, conversion rates, channels, lead costs, program distribution and degree-level distribution.

Click here to download your free copy of the Sparkroom Q2 2017 Higher Education Inquiry Generation Review.

About the Author

Melissa Piccinich

Melissa Piccinich is a Marketing Manager at Digital Media Solutions (DMS), an industry leader in providing end-to-end customer acquisition solutions that help clients grow their businesses and realize their marketing goals. In this role, Melissa handles marketing and communications efforts for DMS and its subsidiary brands. Since its inception, DMS has evolved into a full-service performance marketing company that services firms within highly complex and competitive industries including mortgage, education, insurance, consumer brands, automotive, jobs and careers. DMS has achieved incredible year-over-year growth, which has earned recognition on the Inc. 5000 list in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017.

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