These States Don’t Require a Degree for a Government Job

Four-year degrees are becoming increasingly unnecessary for most government jobs in a few states.
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  • Maryland became the first state to drop degree requirements for most government jobs.
  • A few other governors have adopted a similar practice since, making it a bipartisan initiative.
  • The move helps state governments hire at a time of low unemployment rates.

A growing number of governors eliminated degree requirements for state jobs over the past year.

The bipartisan trend comes at a time when states are struggling to hire alongside a low unemployment rate. The hope is that by rolling back the requirement for four-year degrees to instead focus on skills and experience, departments can once again fill vacant government jobs with a larger pool of workers to draw from.

Still, only a handful of states have adopted this policy.

Across most of the U.S., state government jobs typically still require a bachelor's degree.

Those degrees are not necessary for most government jobs in the following states:

  • Maryland
  • Utah
  • Colorado
  • Pennsylvania
  • Alaska

Republican Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland started a movement this time last year when he became the first governor to eliminate the four-year degree requirements for many government jobs.

"More than half" of Maryland's 38,000 jobs can substitute a four-year degree requirement for skills or community college experience, Hogan said during a March 2022 press conference.

"Through these efforts that we're launching today, we are ensuring that qualified nondegree candidates are regularly being considered for these career-changing opportunities," Hogan said.

Colorado wasn't far behind Maryland: In April 2022, Democratic Gov. Jared Polis directed state agencies to consider "skills and experiences as substitutions for educational degrees and certifications" in hiring decisions.

Republican Gov. Spencer Cox of Utah instituted a similar change in December.

"Degrees have become a blanketed barrier-to-entry in too many jobs," Cox said in a statement. "Instead of focusing on demonstrated competence, the focus too often has been on a piece of paper. We are changing that."

He added that the state executive branch has 1,080 classified jobs. Of those, 98% no longer require a bachelor's degree.

Pennsylvania Democratic Gov. Josh Shapiro eliminated the bachelor's degree requirement for 65,000 state jobs through executive order on Jan. 30. It was his first full day in office.

Now, Alaska is adopting the no-degree-required policy.

Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy last month signed an administrative order that eliminated a degree requirement for most government jobs, a move he said was necessary because of a labor shortage in the state.

Instead, he emphasized "minimum competency requirements" that "allow for the broadest use of education, training, and experience" when seeking new state employees.