Nearly Half of Companies Plan to Eliminate Bachelor’s Degree Requirements in 2024
With the rising cost of high education and cost of living many high school students are considering whether a four-year bachelor’s degree or other type of postsecondary education is right for them.
A November 2023 survey of 800 U.S. employers conducted by Intelligent.com offers insight into how companies have and plan to handle college degree requirements in 2024 and what other tools they’re using to evaluate job candidates.
- 45% of companies plan to eliminate bachelor’s degree requirements for some positions in 2024
- 55% of companies eliminated bachelor’s degree requirements in 2023
- 70% say they eliminated bachelor’s degree requirements to create a more diverse workforce
- 4 in 5 employers value experience over education when evaluating job candidates
- Two-thirds of employers have candidates complete test assignments
45% of companies say they’ll eliminate bachelor degree requirements in 2024
Ninety-five percent of respondents say their companies currently require bachelor’s degrees for at least some roles. In 2024, 45% of these companies plan to eliminate the bachelor’s degree requirements for some positions.
This continues a trend from 2023, in which according to our survey, 55% of employers got rid of bachelor’s degree requirements.
Companies that eliminated some bachelor’s degree requirements in 2023 are far more likely to continue shedding these requirements than those who did not. Seventy-three percent of companies that eliminated degree requirements this year plan to do so for more roles in 2024.
Meanwhile, among companies who didn’t eliminate bachelor’s degree requirements in 2023, only 9% anticipate doing so next year.
Despite these trends, there are still benefits to earning a bachelor’s degree, according to Professor and Higher Education Advisor Diane Gayeski, PhD.
“A bachelor’s degree is much more than preparation for an entry-level job. It prepares people for a full life, including exploring what areas of employment might be a good fit for the immediate and long-term future,” Gayeski says.
“While a young person may be able to get an entry-level job without a bachelor’s degree, the lack of the degree along with the other ‘soft skills’ that one gains in college can make it difficult to climb the corporate ladder. Employers today are looking for people who are culturally fluent in diverse settings, can display and document their leadership skills, and can be flexible to take on new challenges.”
Half of employers eliminated bachelor’s degree requirements in 2023
In 2023, 55% of companies, for at least some roles, got rid of bachelor’s degree requirements.
Among the 55% of employers who eliminated bachelor’s degree requirements, 70% did it for entry-level roles, 61% for mid-level roles, and 45% for senior-level roles.
The elimination of bachelor’s degree requirements varied across industries. Below is a look at the percentage of employers, in industries surveyed with at least 50 respondents, who say they eliminated a bachelor’s degree requirement for roles in the past year.
- Information services: 72%
- Software: 62%
- Finance & insurance: 61%
- Construction: 55%
- Healthcare & social assistance: 42%
- Education: 35%
Currently, of the 95% of employers who have bachelor’s degree requirements, 24% require these degrees for three-quarters of their jobs, while 27% say they require a bachelor’s degree for about half of the positions in their company. Nineteen percent say only about one-fourth of their jobs require a bachelor’s degree.
Employers seek to create a more diverse workforce by eliminating degree requirements
Regardless of industries, companies are working towards similar goals with the elimination of bachelor’s degree requirements.
Seventy percent of employers who removed bachelor’s degree requirements in 2023 say they did so to create a more diverse workforce. Additionally, 69% wanted to increase the number of applicants for open positions, while 68% say there are other ways to gain skills.
Removing bachelor’s degree requirements can be an effective strategy for increasing diversity, Gayeski says.
“Due to the expense of attending college, earning a bachelor’s degree is generally more difficult for people from traditionally marginalized groups and those from lower socio-economic backgrounds,” Gayeski says.
“If a student’s parents didn’t attend college or if they are from outside the U.S., it can be much more difficult to know how to navigate applying to colleges and finding scholarships and other resources. Eliminating a bachelor’s degree can open jobs up to individuals who weren’t able to attend college.”
80% of hiring managers favor experience over education in job applicants
When it comes to evaluating job candidates, the majority (80%) of employers are more interested in experience than education. Thirty-nine percent of employers are ‘very likely’ and 41% are ‘likely’ to favor experience over education when assessing candidates’ applications.
A similar number, 81%, say it’s important for recent college grads to have work experience.
Students who are enrolled in college programs typically have a variety of options for gaining work experience while completing their degrees.
“Every college has great connections for internships and work-study jobs,” Gayeski says. “Even working in the dining hall or IT support will develop skills and provide connections.”
She adds that students can also gain valuable leadership and teamwork skills by participating in school clubs and athletics or building their own entrepreneurial ventures while in school.
Additionally, 60% of employers think it’s important for job applicants to have AI skills.
“Many AI programs are available free online and all it takes is a bit of time and patience to leverage these to use for coursework, internships, or even just for fun,” Gayeski says to individuals who want to develop their AI skills, adding that free or inexpensive AI courses are available on platforms like Coursera, EdX, and LinkedIn Learning.
More than 2 in 3 employers have job candidates complete test assignments, personality tests
Employers are using assessments to determine a candidate’s suitability for a job. Sixty-eight percent of employers ask job candidates to complete a test assignment during the interview process, while 64% give applicants a personality test or work-style assessment.
“Assessments are important for many jobs, even if a student seems to have a relevant degree,” Gayeski says. “Employers use assessments to get a handle on whether candidates will be a good fit for their specific culture or the challenges of a certain job – such as the ability to handle conflict or to take on unfamiliar tasks and take risks. They’re also a way for applicants to demonstrate their interest in a job and how accurately and quickly one can perform tasks.”
The majority of test assignments, 81% take two hours or less to complete. Less than half of employers, 44% always compensate applicants for their time when they’re required to complete a test assignment. Thirty-two percent provide compensation sometimes, and 24% never do.
3 in 4 employers say certificate programs are valuable training for potential employees
There are a variety of alternatives to bachelor’s degrees that individuals can explore to prepare them for the workforce, although how employers view those alternatives varies.
Certificate programs are considered the most valuable, with 75% of respondents saying their companies value this type of education. Sixty-eight percent say associate degrees have value, while 61% of companies believe both online degrees and apprenticeships have value.
However, only 29% of respondents say their companies view bootcamps, which cater to computer programming and other tech-related areas, as valuable.
Regardless of how they view education during the application process, many companies value education for their employees. Seventy percent of respondents say their company pays for further education as part of their benefits package. Meanwhile, 45% of employers say they offer student loan repayment benefits.
This survey was commissioned by Intelligent.com and conducted online by the survey platform Pollfish. Responses to this survey were collected in November 2023. In total, 800 U.S. respondents completed the full survey.
To qualify for the survey all participants had to answer they are involved in hiring decisions and meet the additional demographic criteria, including age, income, and organizational role.
To avoid bias Pollfish employs Random Device Engagement (RDE) to ensure both random and organic surveying. Learn more about Pollfish’s survey methodology or contact [email protected] for more information.