New student enrollment down for health professions, clinical sciences in 2022

U.S. workers and professionals are considering alternative options to formal higher education, and the number of students seeking degrees in healthcare reflects the downward trend of overall college enrollment.

College enrollment continues to decline, down 1.1 percent overall from 2021 to 2022, marking a two-year decline of 3.2 percent since 2020. According to an Oct. 20 analysis from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, health professions and clinical science noted significant declines in new students. This news is concerning for healthcare professionals seeking to reinforce a dwindling workforce, as 85 percent of healthcare facilities currently report at least moderate shortages of allied health professionals. 

From 2021 to 2022, enrollment numbers for healthcare professions and clinical sciences were down 5 percent for associate's degree programs, 2.5 percent for bachelor's degree programs, and 6.1 percent for master's degree programs. Doctoral programs posted a 0.4 percent increase over 2021 enrollments. 

This preliminary data reflects the 62 percent of U.S. institutions that had reported their data as of Sept. 29 and accounts for 10.3 million students.

According to an Oct. 20 report from NPR, enrollment in undergraduate and graduate programs has fallen about 1 percent per year since 2012. According to the report, concerns about student debt, a strong labor market for unskilled workers, and questions about college affordability can keep some prospective students away from higher education. 

Access the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center data here.

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