UMass graduates largest class in history

BOSTON — With commencement season coming to a close, the University of Massachusetts is once again projected to graduate its largest class in history, with nearly 18,000 students earning degrees.

“I’m proud to see demand for an affordable, world-class UMass education continuing to rise,” said President Marty Meehan. “With the majority of UMass graduates staying in the Commonwealth to build their lives, our growing impact directly bolsters the Massachusetts economy and infuses the workforce with highly skilled talent.”

UMass projects that 17,976 students will receive degrees across its five campuses this academic year, up more than 400 from last year’s final total of 17,517 degrees awarded, which was then a record high.

These graduates join more than half a million UMass alumni, the majority of whom live and work in Massachusetts. Sixty-four percent of UMass graduates remain in the Commonwealth, making UMass the largest contributor to the state’s highly educated workforce. UMass now educates three times as many Massachusetts residents as the top eight private universities in the state combined.

“I’m thrilled that UMass continues to lead the way in transforming student lives and serving Massachusetts, both of which are essential to our mission,” said Rob Manning, chairman of the UMass Board of Trustees. “Each year, UMass is preparing more and more students to become productive, skilled members of society and to drive innovation here in the Commonwealth and beyond.”

The record-high graduation figures reflect the continued growth of the university, both in terms of size and reputation.

Enrollment reached a record-high 74,572 students for the 2017-18 academic year after surpassing 74,000 students for the first time ever the prior year, continuing a decade-long surge.

All four UMass undergraduate campuses were recently rated in the top category of U.S. News & World Report’s Best Colleges rankings for the second year in a row, making UMass one of the few university systems in the nation to have each campus so acclaimed. Since 2010, UMass Amherst has risen more than 20 spots in the U.S. News rankings, and UMass Lowell is now the fifth-fastest growing public research university in the country.

As the size of the university population has grown, so has its diversity; more than 36 percent of undergraduates are students of color, ticking up from 35 percent last year.

UMass continues to focus on preparing students for the state’s rapidly growing innovation economy, with 36 percent of undergraduates enrolled in high-demand STEM fields.