Master’s and Doctoral Degrees on the Rise
About 13.1% of U.S. adults now have an advanced degree, up from 8.6% in 2000.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the educational level of American adults is on the rise as more college graduates go on to earn master’s, professional and doctoral degrees. Since 2000, the number of people age 25 and over whose highest degree was a master’s has doubled to 21 million. The number of doctoral degree holders has more than doubled to 4.5 million. About 13.1% of U.S. adults now have an advanced degree, up from 8.6% in 2000.
These findings come from the “U.S. Census Bureau’s Educational Attainment in the United States: 2018” table package that uses data from the “Current Population Survey Annual Social and Economic Supplement.” It examines the educational attainment of adults age 25 and older by demographic and social characteristics such as age, sex, race and Hispanic origin, nativity, and disability status.
The tables show, among other things, that women make up a smaller share of high school dropouts than men, the share of Asians with advanced degrees is growing, and recent immigrants are more likely to go to college than earlier immigrants or native-born citizens. The data also clearly show a rise in the number of college graduates who have advanced degrees. In 2000, one-third of people with at least a bachelor’s degree had completed an advanced degree; by 2018, 37% had done so.
Additional highlights include:
- In 2017, on average, a person with an advanced degree earned 3.7 times as much as a high school dropout.
- The percentage of people age 25 and over who had completed less than a high school diploma or equivalent was higher for men (10.6%) than for women (9.8%).
- Between 2000 and 2018, the percentage of people 25 years and older who had completed a bachelor’s degree or higher increased by 9 percentage points, from 25.6% to 35%.
- Among Asians ages 25 to 29 in 2018, almost seven in 10 (69.5%) had a bachelor’s or higher degree. Five years earlier (in 2013), the bachelor’s degree attainment rate for this group was 59%.
- Recent immigrants to the U.S. were more likely to have a college education than earlier immigrants or the native born.
- Among immigrants who have arrived since 2000, 38.8% have a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared with 35.2% of the native born. Among earlier immigrants, the rate of college education was lower; for those who arrived in the 1990s, it was 31.3%.
- Naturalized citizens were among the groups with high levels of college attainment; 38.4% had a bachelor’s degree or higher.
- The children of immigrants were also likely to have a bachelor’s degree (39.6%).
For additional information, visit www.census.gov.