What are the trends in the educational attainment of the United States population?
Educational attainment is the level of education completed by the time of the survey (reported here as at least high school completion,1 an associate’s or higher degree, a bachelor’s or higher degree, or a master’s or higher degree). Between 2010 and 2022, educational attainment rates among 25- to 29-year-olds increased at each attainment level. During this period, the percentage of 25- to 29-year-olds who had completed at least high school increased from 89 to 95 percent, the percentage with an associate’s or higher degree increased from 41 to 49 percent, the percentage with a bachelor’s or higher degree increased from 32 to 40 percent, and the percentage with a master’s or higher degree increased from 7 to 10 percent. Although educational attainment rates increased over this period for both males and females and among most racial/ethnic groups, attainment gaps persisted in 2022.
Between 2010 and 2022, educational attainment rates increased for both female and male 25- to 29-year-olds across all educational attainment levels. During this period, attainment rates were generally higher for females than for males.
Differences between the educational attainment rates for females and males (also referred to in this Fast Fact as the gender gap2) were also observed within racial/ethnic groups3 in 2022. Gender gaps did not exist for all racial/ethnic groups at all levels of educational attainment in 2022, but where they did, they reflected higher attainment rates for female 25- to 29-year-olds than for their male peers. Specifically, the Black gender gap was
The Hispanic gender gap was
The White gender gap was
Additionally, a gender gap was observed for those of Two or more races with an associate’s or higher degree (19 percentage points).6 However, there was no measurable gender gap in 2022 for those who were Asian at any attainment level or for those who were American Indian/Alaska Native with a high school or higher degree.7
1 High school completion includes those who graduated from high school with a diploma as well as those who completed high school through equivalency programs, such as a GED program. 2 Although this Fast Fact uses the common phrase, “gender gap,” data come from the Current Population Survey, which asks respondents to report sex (male or female). 3 Those who were Pacific Islander are not included in this comparison because sample sizes in 2022 were too small to provide reliable estimates. 4 A gender gap was not observed at the attainment level of at least high school completion for those who were Black. 5 A gender gap was not observed at the attainment level of at least high school completion for those who were White. 6 Those of Two or more races who attained a master’s or higher degree are not included in this comparison because sample sizes in 2022 were too small to provide reliable estimates. 7 Those who were American Indian/Alaska Native who attained an associate’s or higher degree, a bachelor’s or higher degree, and a master’s or higher degree are not included in this comparison because sample sizes in 2022 were too small to provide reliable estimates.
SOURCE: National Center for Education Statistics. (2022). Educational Attainment of Young Adults. Condition of Education. U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences. Retrieved June 16, 2023, from https://nces.ed.gov/programs/coe/indicator/caa.
Numbers in figure titles reflect original numeration from source Condition of Education indicators.
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