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A November survey of 800 U.S. employers conducted by Intelligent.com finds 45% of companies plan to eliminate bachelor’s degree requirements for some positions in 2024. The survey also offers insights on what other tools these businesses will be using to evaluate job candidates instead. 

This continues a 2023 trend in which 55% of employers said they got rid of bachelor’s degree requirements for some jobs, the survey said. Among employers who eliminated degree requirements in the past year, 70% did it for entry-level roles, 61% for mid-level roles, and 45% for senior-level roles. 

The survey also found companies that eliminated some bachelor’s degree requirements in 2023 are far more likely to continue shedding these requirements. In fact, 73% of companies that eliminated degree requirements in 2023 said they plan to do so for more positions in 2024. 

Meanwhile, among companies that did not eliminate bachelor’s degree requirements in 2023, only 9% anticipate doing so in 2024. 

Despite the trend toward more positions without bachelor’s degree requirements, there are still benefits to having a degree, said Diane Gayeski, Ph.D., professor at Ithaca College’s Roy H. Park School of Communications and the higher education and career advisor at Intelligent.com.  

“A bachelor’s degree is much more than preparation for an entry-level job,” Gayeski said. “It prepares people for a full life, including exploring what areas of employment might be a good fit for the immediate and long-term future. 

“While a young person may be able to get an entry-level job without a bachelor’s degree, the lack of the degree along with the other ‘soft skills’ that one gains in college can make it difficult to climb the corporate ladder,” Gayeski said. 

 “Employers today are looking for people who are culturally fluent in diverse settings, can display and document their leadership skills, and can be flexible to take on new challenges,” she said. 

The elimination of bachelor’s degree requirements varied across industries. The percentage of employers (in industries that had at least 50 survey responses) that had eliminated a bachelor’s degree requirement in 2023 broke down as follows: 

  • Information services: 72% 
  • Software: 62% 
  • Finance & insurance: 61% 
  • Construction: 55% 
  • Healthcare and social assistance: 42% 
  • Education: 35% 

DEI Goals 

Regardless of industries, companies are working toward similar goals with the elimination of bachelor’s degrees as a prerequisite for employment. Seventy percent of employers said they did so to create a more diverse workforce. Additionally, 69% wanted to increase the number of applicants for open positions, while 68% said there are other ways to gain skills. 

Removing bachelor’s degree requirements can be an effective strategy for increasing diversity, Gayeski said. 

“Due to the expense of attending college, earning a bachelor’s degree is generally more difficult for people from traditionally marginalized groups and those from lower socio-economic backgrounds,” Gayeski said. 

Employers are using assessments to determine a candidate’s suitability for a job. Sixty-eight percent of employers ask job candidates to complete a test assignment during the interview process, while 64% give applicants a personality test or work-style assessment. 

Alternatives to a Degree 

When it comes to evaluating job candidates, the majority (80%) of employers are more interested in experience than education. Thirty-nine percent of employers are “very likely” and 41% are “likely” to favor experience over education when assessing candidates’ applications. 

A similar number, 81%, say it is important for recent college graduates to have work experience. Additionally, 60% of employers want job applicants to have skills in AI (artificial intelligence). 

Three in four employers (75%) said that certificate programs are valuable training for employees. Sixty-eight percent say associate degrees have value, while 61% of companies believe both online degrees and apprenticeships have value.