A Profile of Career Colleges and Universities in the United States

Filed under
Career College News

by Kerry Turner

2007 Fact BookEver wanted to find out how career colleges compare to other higher education institutions in the areas of enrollment, graduation rates and job opportunities? Every two years, the Imagine America Foundation publishes its Fact Book: A Profile of Career Colleges & Universities to help answer these and other important questions. The Fact Book contains research and analysis of important trends in higher education. It is an important tool for policy makers, investor groups, and college owners and operators to assess important demographic, enrollment and financial aid trends facing the higher education sector.

Private career schools, institutes, colleges and universities provide diverse educational opportunities for students interested in being trained for career-specific opportunities in art, business, information technology, allied health, culinary arts and over 200 other fields of study. These educational institutions cover the full spectrum of postsecondary education, from short-term certificate and diploma programs to two- and four-year Associate and Baccalaureate degrees, to Master's and doctoral programs. Important findings from the 2007 Fact Book include:

  • Enrollment: Career colleges enrolled over 2 million students in the 2005-2006 academic year.
  • Institutions: Career schools and colleges represent a significant number of postsecondary institutions in the United States; 39% (2,694) of those participating in Title IV programs are career colleges.
  • Career College Student Profiles: Thirty-seven percent of students attending career colleges are minorities. Twenty-one percent of all African-American students and 20% of all Hispanic students who received Associate degrees earned them at a career college. Thirty-nine percent of degrees conferred at career colleges went to minorities, compared to 24% at public institutions and 19% at private, not-for-profit institutions.

Chart of percentage of minority students enrolled annually by sector, 2006-2006


  • Completions: Graduation rates at career colleges are higher than those at other comparable institutions. Three years after enrollment, students at private career schools and colleges have a higher completion rate (64%) and lower dropout rate (33%) than students at community colleges (38% and 45%, respectively).
  • Job Opportunities: Occupations requiring postsecondary career training will have a significant increase in job growth through 2014. Career college programs, such as computer support, information systems, business, nursing, dental and medical assisting, occupational and physical therapy, health technology, and legal assisting, will meet the market needs of high-growth occupations. Forty-two percent of health degrees and certificates conferred at 2-year-and-less institutions were awarded at career colleges.

Chart of completion and persistence at less-than-4-year institutions (3 years after enrollment)


For more information or to order a copy of the 2007 Fact Book: A Profile of Career Colleges & Universities, please contact the Imagine America Foundation at 202.336.6711.