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Home:: What Percent of People Have a College Degree?

What Percent of People Have a College Degree?

Approximately 34% of Americans 18 years of age and older hold college degrees according to the United States Census Bureau report of 2007.  More women than men hold college degrees of all types combined. About 33.8% of American men have a college degree, as compared to about 34.8% of American women. The differences between the sexes when it comes to the type of degree  attained are very small, and in most cases are under half of a percentage point.

Nineteen percent of Americans have attended college but have no degree. The reasons for this are varied. Some of the people are still in college, and plan to have a degree within one to four years. Others started college but for a variety of reasons stopped going, and may or may not plan on returning. Still other people in this category may have taken one or two classes at a university or college and were not planning to attain a degree. This number does not include those who attained certification in vocational programs.

Eight percent of Americans have attained an Associate’s Degree. Slightly more than half of them have an occupational degree, and slightly less than half attained an academic degree. These degrees include both Associates of Arts Degrees and Associate of Sciences Degrees. Seventeen percentage of people in America have earned Bachelor’s Degrees. Again, this number includes Bachelor of Arts as well as Bachelor of Sciences Degrees.

About 8.5% of the population has a post graduate degree. The vast majority of them (about 6% of the population), has earned a Master’s Degree. The rest are about evenly split between Professional Degrees (1.4% of the population) and Doctoral Degrees (1.1% of the population).

The percentage of people with degrees differs depending on the location of the people in question. The Boulder, Colorado area has the highest percentage of college graduates, and the Merced, California area, the lowest.

Each year, the number as well as the percentage of Americans with college degrees has increased. For example, in 1990, only 13.1 percent of Americans had Bachelor’s Degrees, and in 2000, the number had risen to 15.5%. It is projected that the numbers will continue to rise.

The good news for Americans is that as the number of more educated people rises, salaries tend to rise as well. In general, the earning potential for those with college degrees is nearly double that of high school  graduates. The unemployment rates for college educated Americans is less than half the unemployment rates for people who do not have a high school diploma. People who hold degrees are more likely to have health insurance than those who do not.

On the other hand, some studies have suggested that grade inflation at colleges is a contributor to the high numbers of college graduates, and that holding a college degree may not mean that a person is a better worker, or will hold a better job than someone without a degree. There are also many career opportunities that have opened up in the past decade that create high paying positions for those without degrees. Also, there are some careers that now require more advanced degrees than were required a decade ago.

With over half of Americans having some college under their belts and over one third holding at least an Associate’s Degree, there is a lot of competition in today’s workforce. As the percentage of Americans with degrees rises, the demand for highly educated workers will also rise.

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