Honoring a Resilient Class of 2021: USM Campuses Award More Than 40,000 Degrees for Fifth Straight Year

USM Graduates Will Advance State’s Economy, Public Health Response

Baltimore, Md. (May 12, 2021) – This month the University System of Maryland (USM) celebrates the resilience and accomplishments of its collective Class of 2021, graduates that will continue the system’s role as a vital contributor to Maryland’s economic success.

The USM’s 12 universities will award more than 40,000 undergraduate and graduate degrees this spring, at both virtual and in-person, safely distanced ceremonies across Maryland. Graduates in the Class of 2021 will be saluted for the tenacity required to complete their degrees after the COVID-19 pandemic began in March 2020.

Students at each campus have juggled their academic work with challenges no one could have anticipated at the start of their USM higher education journey. As the pandemic necessitated numerous safety protocols to minimize spread of the virus, students shifted suddenly to online instruction and virtual laboratories on the path to completing their degrees.

This year is the fifth in a row USM schools will award more than 40,000 degrees. The USM continues to have a strong impact on the state’s economy as well as the quality of life in Maryland.  The USM awards more than 75 percent of all bachelor’s degrees issued in Maryland, with well over half the graduates remaining in Maryland to work and live.  

Many of these graduates will play a role in the state’s pandemic recovery, whether working directly in the health care professions or contributing to Maryland’s overall economic well-being. Led by USM alumni, Maryland ranks in the nation’s top five for household income and four-year degrees. 

Additionally, roughly half of USM undergraduate students complete their degrees without taking on any debt.

“During this difficult COVID year, our students have shown remarkable grit and resilience. The fact that they successfully completed their degrees—this year, of all years—is such an inspiration to me,” said USM Chancellor Jay A. Perman. “And I take great pride in knowing that, whatever degree path they chose, these USM graduates will shape our state and our nation—making us better, wiser, more innovative, more creative, and more compassionate.”

USM Graduates and Maryland’s Economy
For the 2020-21 year, the USM will provide more than three out of every four bachelor’s degrees awarded in Maryland. And because 80 percent of USM undergraduates are in-state students, they often remain in Maryland following graduation, ultimately contributing their wealth to the state’s economy and their service to our communities.

A soon-to-be-released report from the University of Baltimore’s Jacob France Institute found that each USM graduate will earn about $2.5-$3.3 million more over his or her lifetime than a Maryland resident with only a high school diploma. USM graduates collectively provide $750 million-to-$1 billion in state sales and income taxes over their lifetimes.

These higher earnings yield a direct benefit to Maryland. For every $1 the state invests in the USM, Maryland receives $4.70-$6.70 in taxes.

Pipeline to the Health-Care Professions
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the system’s degree production in the health-care professions has been both important and timely—with many of such  degree programs also available at the USM’s three regional higher education centers, making them accessible to a greater number of students in key areas of the state.

The USM will award more than 3,800 health-care profession degrees this spring, including roughly 350 nursing students from 2020 who graduated early under a special early-exit option allowing them to start work immediately in hospitals caring for COVID-19 patients. Several USM institutions offer nursing programs: University of Maryland, Baltimore; Coppin State; Towson University; Frostburg State; Salisbury University; Bowie State; and University of Maryland Global Campus.

The University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB)—Maryland’s only public health, law, and human services university—will graduate more than 600 students with a professional practice doctorate from its schools of medicine (MD), dentistry (DDS), nursing (DNP), and pharmacy (PharmD), and its physical therapy program (DPT) offered in the School of Medicine. More than 50 percent of Maryland’s practicing physicians and other health care professionals are UMB School of Medicine graduates.

UMB also offers bachelor’s degrees in dental hygiene, medical & research technology, and nursing. It is anticipated that the number of bachelor’s graduates in these programs for 2020-21 will exceed 400.

Strength in STEM Degrees Continues
Overall, the USM will again graduate a substantial number of students in STEM disciplines (science, technology, engineering, and math). This May, USM schools will award more than 11,500 STEM degrees outside of health professions, with roughly 8,500 going to undergraduates. Nearly half of USM undergraduate STEM degrees are earned by minority students.

At least 7,000 students will graduate with degrees in cyber security.

Each USM institution offers details on its May 2021 commencement plans via its university website. A link to each website is found here.  In addition to the commencement ceremony details available at these sites, USM institutions will profile noteworthy graduates from their campus.


The USM comprises 12 institutions: Bowie State University; Coppin State University; Frostburg State University; Salisbury University; Towson University; the University of Baltimore; the University of Maryland, Baltimore; the University of Maryland, Baltimore County; the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science; the University of Maryland, College Park; the University of Maryland Eastern Shore; and the University of Maryland Global Campus. The USM also includes three regional centers—the Universities at Shady Grove, the University System of Maryland at Hagerstown, and the University System of Maryland at Southern Maryland—at which USM universities offer upper-division undergraduate and graduate courses.

Systemwide, student enrollment exceeds 170,000. The USM and its institutions compete successfully nearly $1.5 billion in external grants and contracts annually. USM institutions and programs are among the nation's best in quality and value according to several national rankings. To learn more about the University System of Maryland, visit www.usmd.edu.


Contact: Mike Lurie
Phone: 301.445.2719
Email: mlurie@usmd.edu