Increasing Share of Adults Have College Degrees, Census Bureau Finds

April 26, 2011

New data from the U.S. Census Bureau confirm a couple of widely speculated trends in higher education: The percentage of adults with postsecondary degrees is higher than ever, and women are obtaining those degrees at higher rates than men are.

From 2000 to 2010, the percentage of people over the age of 25 with at least a bachelor's degree rose from 26 percent to 30 percent. Women in that age group were slightly more likely than men to have a degree—86.7 percent compared with 86.6 percent.

Those statistics come from a report, "Educational Attainment in the United States: 2010," that the bureau released on Tuesday. The report was compiled from a series of surveys of more than 100,000 households.

The report also says that people who are employed are more likely to have college degrees—37 percent of women and 35 percent of men in the work force have attained at least a bachelor's degree, compared with 29.6 percent of women and 30.3 percent of men over all.