US Educational Attainment Rates Rising: 1 in 3 Have At Least A Bachelor’s Degree

January 3, 2018

The US high school completion rate reached a new peak last year, with 90% of adults ages 25 and older having a high school diploma, reported the US Census Bureau recently. That’s up from 84% at the turn of the century, as attainment rates increased across demographic groups.

The percentage of Blacks with a high school diploma increased from 78% in 2000 to 87% last year, while the share of Hispanics ages 25 and older with a high school degree rose from 57% to 71%.

More Than One-Third Have A Bachelor’s Degree

Increases in educational attainment have extended beyond high school, per the report. Some 34% of adults ages 25 and older now have a Bachelor’s degree or more, which is up from fewer than one-third in 2015 and about 26% in 2000. Bachelor’s degree attainment is slightly higher among females (35%) than males (34%).

Asian Americans continue to demonstrate the highest rates of educational attainment: an impressive 55% of Asian-Americans ages 25 and older have a Bachelor’s degree, putting them more than 60% above the population average.

Meanwhile, people with advanced degrees – master’s, professional and/or doctorate degrees – has also grown over time. Fully 13% of the 25+ population – more than 1 in 8 – now boasts an advanced degree.

The Census Bureau notes that the number of master’s degree holders has doubled since 2000, as has the number of doctoral degree holders.

In fact, the 13% with an advanced degree matches the share of the population in 1973 who had a Bachelor’s degree.

Once again, Asian-Americans lead the way in the attainment of advanced degrees: almost 1 in 4 (24%) hold such a distinction, almost double the national average.

Educational attainment is strongly correlated with media incomes, per the Census Bureau’s data. In 2016, median earnings among workers broke out as follows:

  • For advanced degree holders: $95,200;
  • For Bachelor’s degree holders: $67,300;
  • For those with a high school diploma or equivalent: $36,700; and
  • For those with less than a high school education: $27,800.

More data and tables from the report can be accessed here.

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