Professional Development

Philly has more growth in young college degree holders than Boston and NYC

And tech and engineering degrees are on the rise, according to Campus Philly's 2019 report.

Drexel University.

(Courtesy photo)

Campus Philly, the regional research and retention nonprofit that aims to get Philadelphia’s college students to stay and invest their success here, released its annual report of 2019 statistics, showing that the region is growing stronger in retaining college grads.

In general, the organization’s report found that enrollment in area colleges is on the rise, with city schools Temple University, Drexel University and University of Pennsylvania leading in enrollment numbers. Across 30 area schools, Philly saw about 33,000 more applications between 2015 and 2017, and enrolled about 3,000 (6.7%) more students over those two years.

Philadelphia’s population of young, degree-holding people also continues to grow. People ages 25 to 34 with a bachelor’s degree is up 115% from the year 2000, growing only slightly behind Washington, D.C. compared to other large cities. It also tops nearby East Coast cities such as Boston — known for its research and university-forward culture — and New York — known for its appeal to a creative and business-driven class.

But the statistics also show that as these universities are enrolling more students, more students also seem to be deciding to stay in the city post-grad. Of those who graduated between 2010 and 2014, 54% stayed in the region; of those who graduated in the previous four years, 49% stayed, while 48% of those who graduated from 2000 to 2004.

Those graduates who do stay, Campus Philly found, are often in fields like accounting, nursing, engineering, education, criminal justice and sociology.

The city still faces some challenges with retention, though. At its annual meeting this summer, Campus Philly shared statistics saying the city had trouble keeping those in some in-demand fields like computer science, information technology or finance.


“Maybe we’re still losing some of our best,” said Rafael Ilishayev, one of the Drexel-students-turned-goPuff-cofounder, at the event.

But the report also found that students obtaining degrees in technology or engineering locally have gone up 24% since 2015. STEM degrees and areas like business and marketing are also growing in the area.

Heading into 2020, the organization said it wants to strategize about the city’s reputation, job growth overall and how to handle and market Gen Z, which are starting their first few years of college now.

(Screenshot via Campus Philly)

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