Gordon State College, University System of Georgia Reports Record Increase in Degrees Awarded

Despite unprecedented challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic, the University System of Georgia (USG) in fiscal year 2020 awarded a record 70,879 degrees – the most in the system’s 89-year history. Gordon State College’s graduation rate had a six percentage-point increase from the previous year, which was also the institution’s highest six-year graduation rate in the last five years.

Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. C. Jeffery Knighton credited Gordon’s faculty and staff for their efforts. “At Gordon State College, our faculty and staff are committed to doing all we can to help our students be successful.  From the time our students arrive on campus as freshmen to the time they graduate, we are right there with them in activities such as the FIRE class when they first begin to the Undergraduate Research Symposium when they’re seniors.  Everything our faculty and staff do with our students is focused on helping them walk across the stage to receive their diploma.” 

The 4.5% annual increase represents over 3,000 more degrees awarded to USG students than last year. It is also the largest year-over-year increase since 2011, when USG joined Complete College America and refocused system efforts on raising education attainment in Georgia.

“This success is thanks to the hard work of USG’s 26 public colleges and universities, which have taken critical steps to increase support and help students stay on track toward their degree,” USG Chancellor Steve Wrigley said. “I am especially grateful to our students, faculty and staff for all they do to ensure more Georgians enter the workforce with a college credential.”

Since 2011, the number of USG degrees awarded annually has increased by more than 29%. At the same time, USG enrollment over the same period has grown by less than 5% -- meaning the rate of awarding degrees is far outstripping USG’s enrollment increases. 

USG had previously announced students made successful academic progress despite the rapid shift to remote instruction caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, with Spring 2020 grades remaining at least as strong as those earned by students in previous spring semesters.

Today’s news also follows USG’s announcement in March that Georgia had experienced among the largest increases in the nation for six-year college completion rates, based on data from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center.

The center released the data as part of its Completing College State Report, which tracked completion rates across five consecutive cohorts of first-time college students (2009-2013).

Over the last five years, the data show Georgia is up nine percentage points to 61% of students completing their degrees within six years of enrolling. Georgia over that same time period moved up 10 places to #20 in the state-by-state rankings.