The 60% Degree Completion Initiative

As the United States begins to wake up to the realities of the knowledge economy, increasing the degree completion rate has been identified as a critical method to buttress the workforce. To this end, the Lumina Foundation and the federal government have both set national degree completion targets of 60 percent to be reached over the next decade. This Mini Feature will explore the degree completion target from every angle; from the efficacy of the target to its impact on other areas of higher education.


Understanding the Degree Completion Target

AUDIO | Behind the Target: Understanding 60 Percent

The 60 percent attainment target, based on international trends and labor market projections, is critical for the American economy, society and individuals.

Education Pays: Degrees Are Not the Only Pathway

While degree-holders have historically earned higher wages than non-degree holders, one should not discount the value of sub-baccalaureate postsecondary education.

An Educated Society is a Stronger Society

More than labor market growth, the health of the society and citizenry relies on its citizens to be educated and inquisitive.

Expect Stagnation without Completion

A degree is critical for adults to who want find work or advance their career.


Exploring the Value of Degree Alternatives

Raising the Profile of Experiential Learning

and Becky Klein-Collins | Senior Director of Research and Policy-Development, CAEL

Prior learning can be as valuable for an adult’s workforce advance and success as a credential, but more effort must be made by higher education and government leaders to more closely integrate the two elements.

AUDIO | Certificates and Certifications Making the Difference

Certifications are not receiving the same recognition as certificates when it comes to supporting workforce success, but they should be brought into the fold.

PLA and Competency Override Need for Traditional Degrees

As prior learning, competency and experiential learning gain more weight, traditional degrees are losing their monopoly as pathways to career success and progress.

Certificate or Degree? The Eternal Question Solved

Degrees and noncredit certificates and certifications have their own benefits and values, but the best option depends on the individual’s situation.


The Dangers of Setting a Degree Completion Target

Where Completion Goes Awry: The Metrics for Success Mark Mounting Problems with Quality

Setting a target for degree completion and attainment does not translate to an increase in degree program quality; it more likely spells its decline.

Value of Degrees Could Decline as Numbers Climb

Content, competencies and knowledge are more tied to labor market advancement and success than simply holding a piece of paper, but institutions have an opportunity to make programming more relevant.


The Benefits of the Degree Completion Target

Degrees Create Labor Market Competitiveness

Achieving the degree completion targets are going to take coordinated efforts from institutions, employers, government bodies and larger associations.

A National Graduation Goal Does Not Lead to Low Quality

There are a number of strategies that can be put into place to ensure that the quality of postsecondary education remains high while pursuing the 60 percent degree completion target.

Inspiring Institutional Culture Change with Completion

The completion target will lead to a culture change across the postsecondary education space to make higher education more student-centric and outcome-focused.


The Downsides of the Degree Completion Target

AUDIO | Just-in-Time Learning Flies Under the Radar with Completion Target

Finding ways to bring just-in-time learning programming and relevant skills into degree program requirements will go a long way to making the 60 percent completion initiative work toward strengthening the workforce.

Goals for College Graduation Rates are Foolish

Setting federal targets for college completion is a recipe for a highly-unemployed population with overblown and unrealized wage expectations.

Over the course of this Mini Feature, we published articles and interviews from contributors across the higher education world discussing their opinions on issues including:

  • Why was the completion target set at 60 percent?
  • What is the value of noncredit approaches to postsecondary education?
  • What impact will the completion target have on the health of the economy and national education standards?

Read, comment and learn about what the this all means for higher education!