Is College Diploma Still Necessary? Some US Companies Will No Longer Require a Degree for Employment


In a groundbreaking move set to reshape the landscape of hiring practices, a recent survey conducted by reveals that nearly 50 percent of US companies are planning to eliminate Bachelor's degree requirements for certain job positions in the upcoming year. The survey, encompassing insights from 800 US employers, sheds light on a significant trend that has gained momentum throughout 2023, with 55 percent of respondents confirming that they have already scrapped degree prerequisites.

Is College Diploma Still Necessary? Some US Companies Will No Longer Require a Degree for Employment
(Photo : UNSPLASH / Austin Distel )

Walmart, IBM, Accenture, Bank of America, and Google Lead the Way

This seismic shift follows the footsteps of industry giants such as Walmart, IBM, Accenture, Bank of America, and Google, all of which have publicly announced their intentions to move away from traditional hiring norms. Walmart, for instance, made headlines in October when it abandoned college degrees as a requirement for hundreds of corporate roles. The company stated that this strategic move aimed to eliminate 'unnecessary barriers' hindering career advancement.

Accenture, a global consulting and professional services firm, has been at the forefront of this transformation since 2016 when it introduced an apprenticeship program. CNBC reported that the company has hired 1,200 individuals through this initiative, with a remarkable 80 percent entering the workforce without a four-year degree. Jimmy Etheredge, CEO of Accenture North America, emphasized the shift in hiring focus, stating, "A person's educational credentials are not the only indicators of success, so we advanced our approach when it comes to hiring by shifting focus on skills, experiences, and potential."

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Industries in Transition

The survey also highlights the industries leading the charge in dropping degree requirements. Information services top the list at 72 percent, followed by software (62%), finance and insurance (61%), construction (55%), healthcare and social assistance (42%), and education (35%). Accenture's success story in hiring without degree constraints serves as a testament to the viability of such practices.

Among the companies that have already eliminated degree requirements, a staggering 80 percent of individuals joined without a traditional four-year degree. This success has prompted further expansion of the program, with Accenture aiming to fill 20 percent of its US entry-level roles through this innovative hiring approach.

Future Outlook: A Divide Emerges Among Employers

While some companies are spearheading this paradigm shift, the survey also reveals that those yet to make changes appear less likely to do so in the future. Only 9 percent of companies that did not eliminate Bachelor's degree requirements in 2023 anticipate doing so in the coming year.

Examining the types of positions affected, the survey found that 70 percent of companies eliminating degree requirements did so for entry-level roles, 61 percent for mid-level roles, and 45 percent for senior roles. This suggests a broadening acceptance of alternative qualifications and an acknowledgment that a degree may not always be the most accurate predictor of job performance.

Reducing Inequity in the Labor Market

A report published by the Burning Glass Institute last year characterized the trend of abandoning degree requirements as "an essential step in reducing inequity in the American labor market." This sentiment aligns with the growing recognition that skills, experiences, and potential should carry equal weight in the hiring process.

As the business landscape undergoes this transformative change, it prompts a reevaluation of traditional education-centric hiring practices. The move towards skill-based hiring is not only gaining traction but is also being perceived as a crucial measure in fostering diversity, equity, and inclusion within the workforce. The next year will undoubtedly witness a paradigm shift as more companies embrace this progressive approach, signaling a new era in employment practices.

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