BOSTON — With UMass Medical School celebrating its commencement on Sunday, the University of Massachusetts commencement season came to a close with more than 17,700 graduates earning degrees. The Class of 2017 projects as the largest graduating class in UMass history.
“These record numbers reflect the fact that more and more students and their families are recognizing the value of the world-class public higher education that UMass provides,” said UMass President Marty Meehan. “Our graduates are poised to contribute to their communities, energize the state economy and strengthen the Commonwealth.”
UMass projects that 17,735 students will receive degrees across its five campuses this academic year, an increase of 937 over last year. They join 493,000 UMass alumni, the majority of whom live and work in Massachusetts. Sixty-two percent of UMass graduates remain in the Commonwealth, making UMass the largest contributor to the state’s highly skilled workforce.
“We are proud to serve Massachusetts — to develop the talent pipeline that keeps the Commonwealth competitive globally and to be the top producer of its greatest resource: a highly educated workforce,” said Robert Manning, chairman of the UMass Board of Trustees. “But most of all, we are proud that each of these students received a transformative UMass education that has prepared them to be successful in whatever they have chosen to pursue.”
The graduation numbers parallel record-high enrollment at UMass, which surpassed 74,000 students for the first time ever and peaked at 74,496 students for the 2016-17 academic year, continuing a decade-long surge.
The university continues to emphasize preparing students for the Commonwealth’s innovation economy, with 33 percent of students enrolled in high-demand STEM fields.
UMass has grown while also increasing its student diversity, as the number of students of color has steadily increased over the last five years; 35 percent of undergraduates are now students of color.
“Our graduates represent the future of Massachusetts,” said President Meehan. “They bring an array of unique perspectives and they are prepared to use the knowledge and skills they gained in the classroom for the good of the Commonwealth. This is an important milestone for UMass and for Massachusetts as a whole.”