U.S.: College Degree Holders, by gender
YearMale,
in %
Female,
in %
202236.239.0
202136.639.1
202036.738.3
201935.436.6
201834.635.3
201733.734.6
201633.233.7
201532.332.7
201431.932.0
201332.031.4
201231.430.6
201130.830.1
201030.329.6
200930.129.1
200830.128.8
200729.528.0
200629.226.9
200528.926.5
200429.426.1
200328.925.7
200228.525.1
200128.224.3
200027.823.6
199927.523.1
199826.522.4
199726.221.7
199626.021.4
199526.020.2
199425.119.6
199324.819.2
199224.318.6
199124.318.8
199024.418.4
198924.518.1
198824.017.0
198723.616.5
198623.216.1
198523.116.0
198422.915.7
198323.015.1
198221.914.0
198121.113.4
198020.913.6
197920.412.9
197819.712.2
197719.212.0
197618.611.3
197517.610.6
197416.910.1
197316.09.6
197215.49.0
197114.68.5
197014.18.2
196913.68.1
196813.38.0
196712.87.6
196612.57.4
196512.07.1
196411.76.8
196211.46.7
195910.36.0
19579.65.8
19528.35.8
19507.35.2
19476.24.7
19405.53.8
  • Region: United States
  • Time period: 1940 to 2022
  • Published: Feb 2023

Data Analysis and Insights

Updated: Apr 11, 2024 | Published by: Statistico | About Us / Data / Analysis

Overall Increase in College Degree Holders

Between 1960 and 2022, the percentage of the U.S. population with a college degree has seen a significant rise, from approximately 12.0% for males and 7.0% for females in the early 1960s to 36.2% for males and 39.0% for females by 2022.

Gender Gap Closure and Reversal

The gender gap in college degree attainment not only closed but reversed over the decades. In 1940, males were more likely to have a college degree at 5.5% compared to 3.8% for females. By 2022, the trend flipped, with 39.0% of females holding a degree versus 36.2% for males.

Rapid Growth for Females in the Late 20th Century

Female college degree attainment experienced a rapid growth period from 1970 to 2000, jumping from 8.2% to 23.6%, reflecting a shift in societal norms and increased access to higher education for women.

Stagnation and Decline for Males in Early 21st Century

After reaching a peak of 29.4% in 2004, the percentage of males with a college degree experienced stagnation and a slight decline before resuming growth, indicating possible economic or societal factors affecting male educational attainment.

Acceleration in Degree Attainment Post-2000

The first two decades of the 21st century saw an accelerated increase in college degree holders among both genders, with females ' percentage rising from 23.6% in 2000 to 39.0% in 2022 and males ' from 27.8% to 36.2% in the same period, highlighting the growing importance of higher education.

Variability in Yearly Growth Rates

Yearly growth rates in college degree attainment have varied, with some years witnessing more significant increases than others, reflecting the influence of economic conditions, policy changes, and societal trends on higher education.

The 1980s: A Decade of Moderate Growth for Women

The 1980s marked a period of moderate growth in female college degree attainment, starting from 16.0% in 1985 and reaching 18.1% by 1989, indicative of ongoing changes in the labor market and societal expectations.

Comparison of Early and Late 20th Century Growth

Comparing the growth in college degree attainment from the 1950s to the 1990s, the percentage of college-educated women more than tripled, while the percentage for men approximately doubled, underscoring the transformative impact of the latter half of the 20th century on educational attainment.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much has the percentage of the U.S. population with a college degree grown between 1960 and 2022?

From 1960 to 2022, the percentage of the U.S. population with a college degree has risen from 12.0% to 36.2% for males and from 7.0% to 39.0% for females.

What change has occurred in the gender gap in college degree attainment from 1940 to 2022?

The gender gap in degree attainment initially favored males in 1940, but by 2022, the trend reversed with 39.0% of females and 36.2% of males holding a degree.

What was the growth in female college degree attainment from 1970 to 2000?

Female college degree attainment grew rapidly from 8.2% to 23.6% between 1970 and 2000.

Terms and Definitions

A college degree is a certificate awarded by an educational institution, such as a college or university, signifying that the recipient has successfully completed a specific course of study or field of professional preparation. College degrees range from two-year associate degrees to bachelor's, master's, professional, and doctoral degrees.

Gender equality in education refers to the equal participation of men and women in educational opportunities. It examines the access to education, completion rates, and achievement levels of each gender. Gender disparity manifests when there is a significant difference in the number of men and women receiving educational opportunities.

Higher education refers to any level of education pursued after secondary (high school) education. It includes community colleges, universities, vocational and technical schools, and any other institutions that offer degrees or certifications beyond the secondary level.

A degree holder refers to a person who has received a degree from an institution of higher education. The degree could be an associates, bachelors, masters, doctorate, or professional degree. This individual has successfully passed their required courses and met all the other conditions set by the institution.
All statistics
All topics
College and University
College and University education includes various levels like undergraduate, graduate, and postgraduate studies, providing numerous courses and degrees in different academic and professional disciplines. Read more »
All locations
United States of America
Explore the comprehensive profile of the United States, a nation marked by its vast land area, diverse culture, and robust economy. Discover key statistics ranging from demographics to economic indicators, offering a glimpse into the American lifestyle. Read more »
Share