In 1947, only 5% of Americans 25 years and older held a bachelor’s degree or higher. Just 13 years ago, fewer than 25% of Americans 25 and older had at least a bachelor’s degree. As of March 2011, 30.4% of Americans in the same age group hold a bachelor’s degree or higher, according to new data released by the U.S. Census Bureau.
Today, the bureau released five new data sets with information including educational attainment in the U.S. in 2011 and the field of study Americans chose in 2009.
According to the data, 2% of Americans 25 years or older hold a doctorate; 1% holds a professional degree; 8% hold a master’s degree and 19% hold a bachelor’s degree as their highest degree attained. Of those who do not hold at least a bachelor’s degree, 26% of Americans 25 years or older hold an associate degree or have completed some college; 31% have completed high school but not any college; and 12% did not complete high school.
In 2009, the education levels of native-born and foreign-born residents was evaluated. Native-born residents outnumber the degree attainment of foreign-born residents in every level except professional and doctoral degrees. While 4% of those with a professional or doctoral degree in 2009 were foreign-born, only 2.9% of those with the same level of education were born in America. On the contrary, while 11.4% of the population without a high school diploma was a native-born resident, 32.3% of the population without a high school diploma in 2009 was foreign-born.
Most bachelor’s degrees held in 2009 were in the “science and engineering” field, with 19,640,000 bachelor’s degrees attained. The category with the second highest concentration of bachelor’s degrees in 2009 was “arts, humanities, and other,” with 12,732,000 degrees, followed by business with 11,305,000 degrees and education with 7,723,000 degrees. “Science- and engineering-related fields” produced only 4,936,000 degrees as of 2009. The highest concentrations of those with degrees in a science or engineering related field are along the east and west coasts. Washington, D.C. top the list, as 48% of its bachelor’s degree holders have a degree in the field. Of bachelor’s degree holders in Washington state, California, and Maryland, 41% of them hold degrees in the field.