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Student-athletes may primarily be known for their athletic prowess and contributing to successful sports programs at signature schools. However, not nearly as much attention is paid to whether or not they are able to graduate with degrees once their tenure at the school comes to an end. In a bit of highly encouraging news, there has been a surge in the graduation rates of student-athletes across all platforms. The numbers show a rapid increase, and the narrative of athletes only going to school for the notoriety and fame associated with sports seem to be changing.

According to Graduate Success rate data, there has been a 14 point increase in the student-athlete graduate rate from 2002. The rate has increased from 74 percent all the way up to 88 percent. There have also been noticeable increases in individual ethnicities such as the African American population (2 percent) and specific sports such as football (3 percent). In fact, African American male basketball players have enjoyed a 36 percent graduation rate increase in that time period, and African American female basketball players have had a 19 point increase.

NCAA president Mark Emmert set a goal of an 80 percent graduation rate for student-athletes and he was more than astonished to see that goal being exceeded greatly. With these increases across the board in mind, there has emerged the questioning what the source behind this increase is.

Primarily, the NCAA has enforced certain academic policies and members of the NCAA board made academic rule changes. This has directly influenced the increase in athletes getting their degrees. Not only has the number of student-athlete graduates increase, but another source of encouragement has come in the form of meaningful degrees.

While studies have shown that student-athlete graduates are more than twice as likely to get a degree in fitness and athletics (unsurprisingly), we have also seen an increase in degrees in the science, technology, engineering and math fields. According to the Division 1 Diploma Dashboard, more and more students, especially of the female demographic have gained more degrees of academic importance.

As you can see, the increase in graduation rates for student-athletes has been prominent all across the country. The increase in meaningful degrees has a great impact on society with no end in sight.