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College Graduates Statistics

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Report Highlights: 

  • In 2019, those who’ve obtained their bachelor’s degree or higher had an employment rate of 87% for both genders, 91% for males, and 83% for females.
  • According to the 2020 U.S. Census Bureau, 47.4% of people who are foreign-born and arrived within the last decade obtained a college degree – a rate higher than native-born Americans.
  • 36.3% of native-born Americans had a college degree, and 31.5% of foreign-born students who entered the country before 2010 obtained their college degrees.
  • In 2019, 36% of individuals who are aged 25 years and older had their bachelor’s degree.
  • In 2019, 40.1% of whites ages 25 and above had their bachelor’s degree or higher, 26.1% of blacks had their bachelor’s degree or higher, 58.1% of Asians, and 18.8% of Hispanics.
  • In 2019, the percent of population with college degrees is about 35% of the entire United States population completed four years of college, and an average of 47.5% of adults in the U.S. earned a degree.

college graduates statistics

Graduation Rate for Students Obtaining their Bachelor’s Degree

  • In 2018, the six-year graduation rate for full-time undergraduate students was 62%. This means that 62% of students who entered college in the fall of 2012 obtained their bachelor’s degree by 2018.
  • The graduation rate for public institutions was 61%.
  • Private nonprofit institutions had a graduation rate of 67%.
  • Private for-profit institutions had a graduation rate of 25%.
  • Females had a 65% graduation rate, and males had a 59% graduation rate.
  • For public universities, females had a 64% and males had a 58% graduation rate.
  • For private nonprofit colleges, females had a 70% and males had a 64% graduation rate.
  • For private for-profit schools, males had a 26% graduation rate compared to females at 25%.

In addition, the numbers varied depending on the acceptance rate of an institution. According to this data, the more selective the school was during the application process, the higher the likelihood that the students had of obtaining their bachelor’s degree.

  • For 4-year colleges with an open admissions policy, only about 34% of college students obtained their bachelor’s degree.
  • At 4-year institutions that had an acceptance rate of under 25%, the graduation rate was 90% within a six-year period.
  • In October 2020, among those who are ages 20 to 29, 59.2% obtained their associate’s degree.
  • 67.3% in this age group obtained their bachelor’s degree.
  • 74.7% of any person who had obtained their degree in this age bracket were employed.

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College Graduates Expected in 2020 to 2021

By the conclusion of the 2020 to 2021 school year, a new set of college students will earn their degrees. So how many students graduate college each year?

  • About 4,001,000 college students are expected to graduate in the 2020 to 2021 school year.
  • About 983,000 associate’s degrees are expected to be awarded from colleges and universities.
  • 1,998,000 bachelor’s degrees are expected to be awarded in the U.S.
  • 833,000 students are expected to earn a master’s degree.
  • 187,000 students are expected to earn a doctor’s degree.

College Graduate Statistics Breakdown

Of all the different college degrees available, a bachelor’s degree is the one that is earned the most. These statistics are broken down based on 2019 data from people aged 25 to 34.

Among the age group of 25 to 34-year-olds, roughly 50% of the population have earned some form of post secondary degree.

Of this group, there’s a breakdown of the level of degree attained.

Degree percentage by type of post secondary degree
Associate’s Degree 10%
Bachelor’s Degree 28%
Master’s Degree 10%
Doctoral Degree 2%
Total 50%

College Graduate Demographics

In addition, college graduates have increased their diversity in terms of ethnicity. However, white people still have the highest percentage of degrees attained.

Ethnicity Percentage of Associate’s Degree Earned
White 56%
Hispanic 21%
Black 13%
Asian 6%
Alaska Native or Native American 3%
Other 1%
Ethnicity Percentage of Bachelor’s Degree Earned
White 64%
Hispanic 14%
Black 11%
Asian 8%
Mixed (two or more races) 4%
Alaska Native or Native American 0.5%
  • Only 10.2% of people living in rural areas have attained an associate’s degree or some college.
  • About 4.5% of people in rural areas have at least a bachelor’s degree or higher.
  • About 13% of adults in the United States have an associate’s degree.

Latino College Completion in the United States

Hispanics have the lowest percentage of students who obtain a college degree. These statistics break down various statistics based on Hispanic age, degree type, and compared to other ethnicities.

  • 24% of Hispanic adults who are 25 years old or more have an associates degree or higher
  • In comparison, 46% of White people have associates degrees.
  • The graduation rate for Hispanics is 2% lower compared to Whites for two-year institutions.
  • In four-year colleges, Hispanics have a 51% graduation rate, while white people have a 63% graduation rate. This is 12% lower than white people.

Employment Rates of U.S. College Graduates

The National Center for Education Statistics obtained data regarding the employment rate for college graduates who are between ages of 25 to 34. These data indicate that the higher the level of education, the higher the employment rate.

  • In 2019, college graduates with a bachelor’s degree or higher who are aged 25-34 years old had an employment rate of 87%.
  • For people who had reported some college had an employment rate of 80%.
  • Individuals who had only completed high school had an employment rate of 74%.
  • For people who didn’t complete high school, their employment rate was 57%.
  • For females, the employment rate was 83% for those who had a bachelor’s degree or higher and only 39% for those who didn’t complete high school.

The table below represents the complete percentages for the employment rate by sex in 2019.

Total, both sexes Male Female
Total, all educational attainment levels 79% 85% 73%
Less than high school completion 57% 72% 39%
High school completion 74% 82% 63%
Some college, no bachelor’s degree 80% 86% 74%
Bachelor’s or high degree 87% 91% 83%

Recent Employment Statistics

According to the 2020 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were some interesting statistics found. Some of the data found may have been skewed due to the recent coronavirus pandemic that may have impacted the ability of recent graduates to obtain employment.

  • Between January to October 2020, about 1 million 20 to 29-year-old students obtained their bachelor’s degree.
  • By October 2020, 692,000 of the total recent college graduates were employed.
  • However, that’s down from October 2019, which was 76%.
  • In October 2020, the unemployment rate for recent college graduates who had a bachelor’s degree increased by 12.8%.
  • As of October 2020, 67.1% of females and 67.6% of male recent college graduates with bachelor’s degrees were employed.
  • The unemployment rate for male recent college graduates with bachelor’s degrees was 16.1% and 10.2% for females.
  • About 273,000 or one-quarter of the recent bachelor’s degree recipients were enrolled in school by October 2020. As a result, only 42% of these individuals were employed, and 76.4% who weren’t enrolled in school were employed.
  • Between January to October 2020, there were 306,000 people between the ages of 20 to 29 who obtained a higher degree than Bachelors such as master’s, professional or doctoral degree.
  • As of October 2020, 74.7% of these graduates were employed compared to 82.3% in October 2019.

Recent College Graduates Who Received Their Associate’s Degree

It’s important to also take a look at college graduates who’ve obtained their associate’s degree and how that impacted their employment status. This data is also based on October 2020 statistics for graduates between the age of 20 to 29.

  • There were 335,000 of 20 to 29 years old who obtained their associate’s degree from January to October 2020.
  • Of these graduates, about 59.2% of them were employed. This number was down from about 71.3% in October of 2019.
  • About 15.8% of recent associate degree recipients were unemployed.
  • Associate degree recipients are more likely to attend an academic program after compared to vocational school. 57% of them attend academic schools, and 42.7% attend vocational school after obtaining their associate’s degree.
  • 42.7% or 143,000 of recent associate degree recipients were enrolled after receiving their degree.
  • Of this group, 49.3% were also employed.

Additional Benefits to Being a College Graduate

There are more benefits than just having a job. These data points uncover other benefits such as health insurance and life expectancy.

  • People who have earned a bachelor’s degree are 47% more likely to have their health insurance provided through employment.
  • In addition, bachelor’s degree holders are 74% more likely to have employers that contribute to their health coverage.
  • In addition, those who have attended college are more likely to live seven years longer than those who didn’t.

Earning Potential

There’s also evidence that having a college degree improves the odds of having more earning potential. This data will demonstrate the difference in earning potential based on their level of education.

  • For those who are between the ages of 22 and 27, bachelor’s degree holders earn an average median income of $44,000.
  • In contrast, high school diploma holders only earn an average of $33,000 annually.
  • Bachelor’s degree holders are 50% less likely to be unemployed compared to high school degree holders.
  • In addition, on average, bachelor’s degree holders will earn $1 million in additional earnings over the course of a person’s lifetime.
  • 60% of bachelor’s degrees that are given out in the United States come from public colleges.
  • Bachelor’s degree holders have a 3.5 times lower poverty rate compared to high school degree holders.
  • Those who have a bachelor’s degree on average earn about $32,000 more per year.
  • Millennials who have only earned a high school diploma earn only 62% of a bachelor’s degree holder’s income.
  • In 2010, unemployment reached its peak in the United States. During this time, recent college graduates had an unemployment rate of 6.9, while other non-graduates had an unemployment rate of 15.8%.
  • Today, bachelor’s degree holders have a jobless rate of 2.5%.

Life Earnings by Level of Education

High School Diploma $1,304,000
Some College $1,547,000
Associates Degree $1,727,000
Bachelor’s Degree $2,268,000
Advanced Degree $2,671,000

Breakdown of College Graduates by State

The U.S. The Department of Education has released information that breaks down the number and percentage of graduates. This data shows the difference in data from 2009, 2010, and 2020. According to this data, there has been a drastic improvement in terms of the number of college graduates throughout the United States.

 

State Graduates as of 2009 Graduates as of 2010 Graduates as of 2020
Alabama 188,258 31.1% 189,259 31.5% 262,000-337,000 (47%-60%)
Alaska 30,769 32.0% 31,967 32.9% 57,000-75,000 (45%-60%)
Arizona 302,190 32.0% 283,867 33.0% 506,000-631,000 (48%-60%)
Arkansas 107,516 28.4% 105,468 28.6% 150,000-216,000 (42%-60%)
California 1,993,484 37.6% 1,998,766 37.9% 3,650,000-3,880,000 (56%-60%)
Colorado 297,540 41.9% 307,961 43.3% 445,000-468,000 (60%-63%)
Connecticut 185,537 46.1% 190,044 45.9% 295,000-339,000 (60%-69%)
Delaware 43,473 38.5% 41,283 37.2% 65,000-68,000 (57%-60%)
D.C. 71,311 65.6% 82,098 68.8% 54,000-88,000 (60%-98%)
Florida 836,034 36.3% 816,946 36.2% 1,480,000-1,630,000 (54%-60%)
Georgia 484,637 35.6% 468,360 35.5% 785,000-886,000 (53%-60%)
Hawaii 76,212 41.5% 73,472 40.5% 118,000-123,000 (60%-63%)
Idaho 67,828 33.4% 66,871 32.7% 107,000-130,000 (49%-60%)
Illinois 785,035 44.6% 798,362 45.3% 1,100,000-1,220,000 (60%-66%)
Indiana 291,830 35.2% 297,250 36.1% 452,000-514,000 (53%-60%)
Iowa 165,534 45.5% 172,115 45.5% 213,000-241,000 (60%-68%)
Kansas 153,494 42.2% 157,023 42.3% 220,000-226,000 (60%-62%)
Kentucky 182,009 32.3% 185,574 33.3% 272,000-336,000 (49%-60%)
Louisiana 175,412 29.5% 183,852 30.3% 265,000-363,000 (44%-60%)
Maine 53,995 36.7% 53,357 37.2% 96,000-101,000 (57%-60%)
Maryland 337,547 45.5% 339,891 45.5% 582,000-660,000 (60%-68%)
Massachusetts 456,451 54.3% 454,219 54.3% 562,000-760,000 (60%-81%)
Michigan 434,002 36.0% 434,937 37.2% 768,000-858,000 (54%-60%)
Minnesota 342,770 49.8% 350,909 49.8% 488,000-599,000 (60%-74%)
Mississippi 116,780 30.7% 120,894 32.1% 161,000-212,000 (46%-60%)
Missouri 297,949 39.0% 300,234 39.3% 465,000-485,000 (57%-60%)
Montana 43,180 37.1% 48,068 40.3% 64,000-68,000 (57%-60%)
Nebraska 102,075 44.0% 107,058 44.2% 131,000-143,000 (60%-66%)
Nevada 107,920 28.1% 109,514 28.4% 179,000-254,000 (42%-60%)
New Hampshire 66,977 45.5% 65,715 46.0% 122,000-139,000 (60%-69%)
New Jersey 504,371 45.9% 520,299 47.2% 751,000-864,000 (60%-69%)
New Mexico 77,513 28.9% 74,586 28.7% 102,000-145,000 (42%-60%)
New York 1,280,585 49.2% 1,302,196 49.6% 1,670,000-2,050,000 (60%-74%)
North Carolina 461,833 37.9% 462,802 37.6% 796,000-840,000 (57%-60%)
North Dakota 40,813 50.9% 43,893 50.8% 46,000-58,000 (60%-76%)
Ohio 550,920 37.6% 537,219 38.0% 845,000-905,000 (56%-60%)
Oklahoma 154,440 31.4% 152,441 30.8% 214,000-274,000 (47%-60%)
Oregon 193,714 37.7% 194,831 37.6% 326,000-346,000 (57%-60%)
Pennsylvania 655,993 43.5% 654,558 43.9% 986,000-1,080,000 (60%-66%)
Rhode Island 56,321 42.8% 53,777 42.5% 96,000-104,000 (60%-65%)
South Carolina 207,298 35.5% 205,399 35.2% 313,000-355,000 (53%-60%)
South Dakota 40,807 41.4% 42,317 42.2% 55,000-58,000 (60%-64%)
Tennessee 269,737 32.1% 268,430 32.8% 421,000-521,000 (49%-60%)
Texas 1,123,980 31.7% 1,143,206 32.2% 1,880,000-2,380,000 (47%-60%)
Utah 163,336 38.1% 168,410 38.5% 224,000-235,000 (57%-60%)
Vermont 29,740 43.7% 30,737 44.5% 55,000-63,000 (60%-68%)
Virginia 462,259 44.0% 477,103 44.6% 749,000-824,000 (60%-66%)
Washington 379,425 41.6% 373,615 40.9% 655,000-676,000 (60%-62%)
West Virginia 64,090 28.9% 64,730 29.5% 85,000-117,000 (43%-60%)
Wisconsin 282,255 40.8% 291,007 41.3% 458,000-462,000 (60%-60%)
Wyoming 25,020 35.4% 24,821 34.2% 31,000-36,000 (53%-60%)
National 15,822,199 38.8% 15,921,711 39.3% 26,200,000-27,000,000 (58%-60%)

Sources:

  1. https://www.urban.org/sites/default/files/publication/86981/who_goes_to_graduate_school_and_who_succeeds_1.pdf#page=4
  2. https://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d19/tables/dt19_326.10.asp
  3. https://www.pewresearch.org/social-trends/2019/05/22/a-rising-share-of-undergraduates-are-from-poor-families-especially-at-less-selective-colleges/