Diplomas to the nth degree

graduated boxIf commencements at YSU this past academic year looked a little crowded, well, they were.

YSU awarded 2,147 degrees in the 2013-14 academic year. That’s the most since 1985-86, nearly three decades.

Jack Fahey, vice president for Student Affairs, said the high number is a reflection of increasing enrollments in the first decade of the 2000s. But he pointed to two other factors.

First, the number of veteran graduates is growing. YSU awards “patriot cords” to graduates who are military veterans. Those numbers have grown from 27 two years ago to 47 this past academic year, and university officials expect to see the numbers continue to rise with the opening of the new YSU Veterans Resource Center.

And second, the Bachelor of General Studies program has soared. Jane Kestner, interim dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, said the BGS was introduced in 2005 as a “completer degree” for individuals who had earned a high number of credit hours but, for one reason or another, did not complete a degree. “We thought we might get 10 students the first year, but the response was overwhelming,” she said. “We have consistently had between 130 and 180 students in the program.” The BGS is also attractive to students who fail to gain entry into their original program of choice. The program has been a major factor in retention and degree-completion initiatives.

Since its start nine years ago, the program has awarded more than 700 degrees and is now the third most populous degree on campus, behind only Criminal Justice and Nursing. In the last two years, the number of BGS degrees has increased by nearly 33 percent. For more information, visit http://web.ysu.edu/class/genstudies.