The number of teaching degrees awarded to students across the United States rose by 3.4 percent in 2016, the most since 2008, according to data from the Higher Education Research Institute.
The increase was fueled by a 3.5 percent increase in bachelor’s degrees, up 1.5 percentage points from 2016.
The most recent data, released Tuesday, shows that Illinois’ two-year degree program, which allows students to complete their education without the need for a full-time degree, had the second-highest percentage increase of any of the 10 states studied.
The program has more than 1.6 million students enrolled.
“The Illinois system has been among the best performing in the nation in providing the opportunities to reach the best students,” said Dan Schmid, the institute’s vice president of research.
“It’s a matter of having the right support system and getting the right students through the right process.”
The institute’s survey of colleges nationwide was based on data from a survey of 2,000 colleges and universities conducted by the Higher Educations Research Institute, a nonprofit that tracks the quality of education and the impact of policies and programs.
The institute surveyed 2,081 colleges and 1,851 universities in May, July and November 2016.
In a survey conducted in June, the Institute said its survey found that Illinois had the third-highest number of two- and four-year colleges offering bachelor’s and doctoral degrees, with more than 7,700.
A survey of 8,843 students in 2016 found that more than 3,000 of them had completed a two- or four-month degree.
The report released Tuesday showed that Illinois ranked second nationally in two-degree bachelor’s programs, with 2,788.5, and fourth in four-degree programs, having 2,876.8.
Illinois had a two percent increase among the five most recent years, with 8,738.8 students enrolled in a two or four year degree program in 2016.
That represented a 6.7 percent increase from the previous year.
The Illinois system had a 2.9 percent increase over the past year, with 6,824.8 enrolled in two or two-years.
“We’re not only doing well academically, but we’re doing well financially,” said Sarah Lohman, the chancellor of the University of Illinois at Chicago.
“And it’s really helped our students in terms of the higher education system.”
In addition to offering the largest number of degree programs, the state also ranks high on the number of students completing their undergraduate degrees, and also ranked second among states in student-faculty ratios, with an 8.7-to-1 ratio.
The percentage of students with degrees in STEM fields jumped by 10.1 percent to 32.7.
Of the state’s 6,637 college students who completed a bachelor’s degree in 2016 and a bachelor in 2016 alone, 4,837 of them also completed two or three years of post-secondary education, according the report.