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Indicators

Postbaccalaureate Enrollment
(Last Updated: May 2015)

Total enrollment in postbaccalaureate degree programs was 2.9 million students in fall 2013. Between 2013 and 2024, postbaccalaureate enrollment is projected to increase by 20 percent, to 3.5 million students.

In fall 2013, some 2.9 million students were enrolled in postbaccalaureate degree programs. Postbaccalaureate degree programs include master's and doctoral programs, as well as programs such as law, medicine, and dentistry. Postbaccalaureate enrollment increased at a faster rate between 2000 and 2010 (36 percent) than between 1990 and 2000 (16 percent). Total enrollment in postbaccalaureate degree programs decreased by 1 percent between 2010 and 2013. Between 2013 and 2024, postbaccalaureate enrollment is projected to increase by 20 percent, to 3.5 million students.


Figure 1. Actual and projected postbaccalaureate enrollment in degree-granting postsecondary institutions, by sex:
Fall 1990–2024

Figure 1. Actual and projected postbaccalaureate enrollment in degree-granting postsecondary institutions, by sex: Fall 1990–2024

NOTE: Postbaccalaureate degree programs include master's and doctoral programs, as well as programs such as law, medicine, and dentistry. Data include unclassified graduate students. Data through 1995 are for institutions of higher education, while later data are for degree-granting institutions. Degree-granting institutions grant associate's or higher degrees and participate in Title IV federal financial aid programs. The degree-granting classification is very similar to the earlier higher education classification, but it includes more 2-year colleges and excludes a few higher education institutions that did not grant degrees. Projections are based on data through 2013. Some data have been revised from previously published figures.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS),"Fall Enrollment Survey" (IPEDS-EF:90-99); IPEDS Spring 2001 through Spring 2014, Enrollment component; and Enrollment in Degree-Granting Institutions Projection Model, 1980 through 2024. See Digest of Education Statistics 2014, table 303.80.


In fall 2013, some 1.7 million postbaccalaureate students were female (59 percent) and 1.2 million were male (41 percent). Female enrollment has generally increased at a faster rate than male enrollment since 1990. For example, between 2000 and 2010, female enrollment increased by 42 percent, while male enrollment increased by 28 percent. Between 2010 and 2013, however, postbaccalaureate enrollment decreased by 2 percent for female students and by 1 percent for male students. Male enrollment is projected to increase by 25 percent, from 1.2 million students in 2013 to 1.5 million in 2024, while female enrollment is projected to increase by 17 percent, from 1.7 million to 2.0 million students.


Figure 2. Postbaccalaureate enrollment in degree-granting postsecondary institutions, by race/ethnicity: Fall 1990–2013

Figure 2. Postbaccalaureate enrollment in degree-granting postsecondary institutions, by race/ethnicity: Fall 1990–2013

NOTE: Postbaccalaureate degree programs include master's and doctoral programs, as well as programs such as law, medicine, and dentistry. Race categories exclude persons of Hispanic ethnicity. Prior to 2010, separate data on Asians were not available. Data through 1995 are for institutions of higher education, while later data are for degree-granting institutions. Degree-granting institutions grant associate's or higher degrees and participate in Title IV federal financial aid programs. The degree-granting classification is very similar to the earlier higher education classification, but it includes more 2-year colleges and excludes a few higher education institutions that did not grant degrees. Data for 1999 were imputed using alternative procedures. Some data have been revised from previously published figures.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), "Fall Enrollment Survey" (IPEDS-EF:90-99); IPEDS Spring 2001 through Spring 2014, Enrollment component. See Digest of Education Statistics 2014, table 306.10.


Of the 2.9 million postbaccalaureate students enrolled in fall 2013, some 1.7 million were White, 367,000 were Black, 221,000 were Hispanic, 188,000 were Asian, 15,000 were American Indian/Alaska Native, and 7,000 were Pacific Islander. Between 1990 and 2013, both Black and Hispanic enrollments nearly quadrupled, with Black enrollment increasing from 100,000 to 367,000 students and Hispanic enrollment increasing from 58,000 to 221,000 students. American Indian/Alaska Native enrollment more than doubled over this period from 7,000 to 15,000 students, while White enrollment increased by 17 percent, from 1.4 million to 1.7 million students. Most recently, the number of postbaccalaureate students was higher in 2013 than in 2010 for most groups; the exceptions were White and American Indian/Alaska Native students, whose enrollment decreased during this period.


Figure 3. Actual and projected postbaccalaureate enrollment in degree-granting postsecondary institutions, by attendance status: Fall 1990–2024

Figure 3. Actual and projected postbaccalaureate enrollment in degree-granting postsecondary institutions, by attendance status: Fall 1990–2024

NOTE: Postbaccalaureate degree programs include master's and doctoral programs, as well as programs such as law, medicine, and dentistry. Data include unclassified graduate students. Data through 1995 are for institutions of higher education, while later data are for degree-granting institutions. Degree-granting institutions grant associate's or higher degrees and participate in Title IV federal financial aid programs. The degree-granting classification is very similar to the earlier higher education classification, but it includes more 2-year colleges and excludes a few higher education institutions that did not grant degrees. Projections are based on data through 2013. Some data have been revised from previously published figures.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS),"Fall Enrollment Survey" (IPEDS-EF:90-99); IPEDS Spring 2001 through Spring 2014, Enrollment component; and Enrollment in Degree-Granting Institutions Projection Model, 1980 through 2024. See Digest of Education Statistics 2014, table 303.80.


In fall 2013, there were 1.7 million full-time postbaccalaureate students and 1.2 million part-time students. Since 1990, full-time enrollment has increased at a faster rate (96 percent) than part-time enrollment (22 percent). Between 2000 and 2010, full-time enrollment increased by 50 percent, while part-time enrollment increased by 22 percent. Most recently, full-time enrollment was 2 percent higher in 2013 than in 2010, but part-time enrollment decreased by 5 percent. Between 2013 and 2024, full-time and part-time enrollments are projected to increase at about the same rate (21 and 20 percent, respectively).


Figure 4. Postbaccalaureate enrollment in degree-granting postsecondary institutions, by control of institution:
Fall 1990–2013

Figure 4. Postbaccalaureate enrollment in degree-granting postsecondary institutions, by control of institution: Fall 1990-2013

NOTE: Postbaccalaureate degree programs include master's and doctoral programs, as well as programs such as law, medicine, and dentistry. Data include unclassified graduate students. Data through 1995 are for institutions of higher education, while later data are for degree-granting institutions. Degree-granting institutions grant associate's or higher degrees and participate in Title IV federal financial aid programs. The degree-granting classification is very similar to the earlier higher education classification, but it includes more 2-year colleges and excludes a few higher education institutions that did not grant degrees. Some data have been revised from previously published figures.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS),"Fall Enrollment Survey" (IPEDS-EF:90-99); and IPEDS Spring 2001 through Spring 2014, Enrollment component; and Enrollment in Degree-Granting Institutions Projection Model, 1980 through 2024. See Digest of Education Statistics 2014, table 303.80.


From fall 1990 to fall 2013, enrollment has grown at a faster rate at private for-profit institutions (an increase of 3,666 percent) than at private nonprofit institutions (an increase of 70 percent) and public institutions (an increase of 23 percent); however, in 1990, the enrollment at private for-profit institutions was relatively small (8,000 students) compared with the enrollments at private nonprofit institutions (0.7 million students) and public institutions (1.1 million students).

Between 2000 and 2010, enrollment at private for-profit institutions increased by 528 percent, while enrollment increased by 34 percent at private nonprofit institutions and by 19 percent at public institutions. More recently, the pattern of growth in postbaccalaureate enrollments at private for-profit and public institutions has changed. Enrollment at private for-profit institutions was 4 percent lower in 2013 than in 2010 and enrollment at public institutions was 3 percent lower, while enrollment at private nonprofit institutions was 1 percent higher.


Figure 5. Percentage of postbaccalaureate students enrolled in degree-granting postsecondary institutions, by participation in distance education and control of institution: Fall 2013

Figure 5. Percentage of postbaccalaureate students enrolled in degree-granting postsecondary institutions, by participation in distance education and control of institution: Fall 2013

NOTE: Postbaccalaureate degree programs include master's and doctoral programs, as well as programs such as law, medicine, and dentistry. Distance education uses one or more technologies to deliver instruction to students who are separated from the instructor as well as to support regular and substantive interaction between the students and the instructor synchronously or asynchronously. Technologies used for instruction may include the following: Internet; one-way and two-way transmissions through open broadcasts, closed circuit, cable, microwave, broadband lines, fiber optics, satellite, or wireless communication devices; audio conferencing; and videocassettes, DVDs, and CD-ROMs, only if the videocassettes, DVDs, and CD-ROMs are used in a course in conjunction with the technologies listed above. Degree-granting institutions grant associate's or higher degrees and participate in Title IV federal financial aid programs.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), Spring 2014, Enrollment component. See Digest of Education Statistics 2014, table 311.15.


Distance education1 courses and programs provide flexible learning opportunities to postbaccalaureate students. In fall 2013, some 31 percent of total postbaccalaureate enrollment (895,000 students) participated in distance education, with 23 percent of total postbaccalaureate enrollment (677,000 students) exclusively taking distance education courses. Of the students who exclusively took distance education courses, 273,000 students (or 9 percent of total postbaccalaureate enrollment) were enrolled in programs located in the same state in which they resided, and 362,000 students (or 12 percent of total postbaccalaureate enrollment) were enrolled in a different state.

The percentage of students participating exclusively in distance education programs differed by institutional control. In fall 2013, the percentage of students who exclusively took distance education courses was higher for those enrolled at private for-profit institutions (79 percent) than for those at private nonprofit (19 percent) and public institutions (16 percent). The percentage of students who did not take any distance education courses was higher for those enrolled at public and private nonprofit institutions (75 percent for each) than for those at private for-profit institutions (17 percent).


1 Distance education uses one or more technologies to deliver instruction to students who are separated from the instructor as well as to support regular and substantive interaction between the students and the instructor synchronously or asynchronously. Technologies used for instruction may include the following: Internet; one-way and two-way transmissions through open broadcasts, closed circuit, cable, microwave, broadband lines, fiber optics, satellite, or wireless communication devices; audio conferencing; and videocassettes, DVDs, and CD-ROMs, only if the videocassettes, DVDs, and CD-ROMs are used in a course in conjunction with the technologies listed above.


Glossary terms: For-profit institution, Full-time enrollment, Nonprofit institution, Part-time enrollment, Postbaccalaureate enrollment, Private institution, Public school or institution
Data Source: Integrated Postsecondary Education System (IPEDS)


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National Center for Education Statistics - http://nces.ed.gov
U.S. Department of Education