Colleges & Universities Industry Profile

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Excerpt from Colleges & Universities Industry Profile

Institutions in this industry offer academic and professional courses and confer baccalaureate or graduate degrees. Major US-based institutions include public university systems in states such as California, New York, and Texas, and private universities such as Duke, Harvard, Johns Hopkins, and New York University; leading institutions outside the US include the universities of Cambridge and Oxford, both located in the UK, as well as the University of Tokyo in Japan, and the University of Toronto in Canada.

There were about 19.7 million students who attended colleges and universities in fall 2020; about 14.6 million of them attended public institutions; 5.1 million attended private institutions, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).

The US colleges and universities industry includes about 2,800 four-year baccalaureate and graduate degree-granting institutions with combined annual revenue of about $670 billion. Two-year colleges are covered in the Community Colleges industry profile. Business, secretarial, technical, and trade schools are included in the Education & Training Services industry profile.


Declining enrollment, caused in part by rising tuition, is holding back revenue growth at many US colleges and universities. Schools are competing more intensely for qualified applicants, and many are employing new highly targeted marketing strategies to increase yield rates — the percentage of accepted applicants who choose to attend. While institutions with large endowment funds are generally more financially secure, below-average investment returns are weakening overall purchasing power. ...

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