Companies Reconsider Degree Requirements

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With a shifting employment and educational landscape, more companies are reconsidering the need for a bachelor’s degree when hiring for certain roles.

A recent survey of 750 U.S. business leaders found that 33% of companies in 2024 have removed four-year degree requirements for specific positions within their organization. By next year, an estimated 25% of companies included plan to eliminate or will continue to eliminate these requirements.

The primary reason for this shift, cited by 72% of respondents, is the desire to prioritize skills over formal education. So far, 75% of business leaders from companies that have removed degree requirements report positive outcomes. Among those companies that removed degree requirements, 59% did so for entry-level positions, 54% for mid-level, and 18% for senior-level roles.

“Real-world experience and practical skills are often viewed as more valuable than a formal education alone in today’s job market,” Huy Nguyen, Intelligent’s chief education and career development advisor, said in a press release. “While a college degree provides individuals with a good foundation of theoretical knowledge, the information and strategies learned are quickly outdated as industry trends shift rapidly and new technology emerges to meet these demands.”

Another factor in the shift away from degrees, mentioned by nearly two-thirds of those surveyed, is that doing so can foster a more diverse workforce. Additionally, nearly half of respondents noted that the changes also increase the applicant pool. 

The majority of companies that removed degree requirements find it beneficial, with 29% rating the change as very successful and 47% as successful. Of those companies, 83% noted expanded access to talent, 69% measured an increase in workforce diversity, and 64% saw a higher number of job applicants for open positions.

“By removing degree requirements, companies gain access to larger and more diverse pools of talent, especially when looking to fill roles in industries facing labor shortages or seeking specialized skills that students may not have learned in college,” Nguyen said in the release. “Many businesses that have done this report that they receive more job applications, which allows for a more robust and competitive candidate selection process, allowing hiring managers to choose from more qualified applicants.”