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Are More People Getting Bachelor's Degrees?

The number of American people getting bachelor's degrees has been increasing: about 30 percent of Americans age 25 or older had four or more years of college education in 2009, compared with less than 20 percent in 1980, less than 10 percent in 1960 and less than 5 percent in 1940. Since the 1980s, the percentage of women 25 or older who hold bachelor's degrees compared has substantially grown while the percentage of men 25 or older who hold bachelor's degrees has slightly dropped. The number of women who get bachelor's degrees also has surpassed the number of men who do. As of 2005, women earned almost 60 percent of all bachelor's degrees.

More about educational attainment:

  • An estimated 677,000 men were awarded bachelor's degrees 2010-2011, while women were awarded an estimated 972,000 bachelor's degrees. That number for women was about double the number of women who received bachelor's degrees in 1979-1980. For men, the 2010-2011 total was a little over 200,000 more than in 1979-1980.

  • More people are getting master's degrees and doctoral degrees, too: about 300,000 master's degrees were awarded in 1980, and about 600,000 were awarded in 2005. About 32,600 doctoral degrees were awarded in 1980, and about 56,000 were awarded in 2005. As of 2005, about 7.6 percent of Americans had a master's degree, and about 2.9 percent had a doctoral degree.

  • As of 2010, the average person worldwide received about 7.8 years of schooling in his or her life.

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