What is the percentage of degrees conferred by race and sex?

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Between academic years 2000–01 and 2015–16, the total number of postsecondary degrees1 awarded increased at all degree levels: certificates by 70 percent (from 553,000 to 939,000), associate’s degrees by 74 percent (from 579,000 to 1.0 million), bachelor’s degrees by 54 percent (from 1.2 million to 1.9 million), master’s degrees by 66 percent (from 474,000 to 786,000), and doctor’s degrees by 49 percent (from 120,000 to 178,000). Reflecting the overall increase in the number of postsecondary degrees awarded at each level, the number of postsecondary degrees awarded generally increased for each racial/ethnic group at each level between 2000–01 and 2015–16.

The number of postsecondary certificates below the baccalaureate level awarded to Hispanic students more than doubled (a 146 percent increase, from 78,500 to 193,000) between academic years 2000–01 and 2015–16. During this period, the number of certificates awarded also increased by 63 percent for Black students (from 99,400 to 162,400), by 60 percent for American Indian/Alaska Native students (from 6,600 to 10,500), by 56 percent for Asian/Pacific Islander students (from 28,100 to 43,900), and by 49 percent for White students (from 333,500 to 496,500). As a result of the differing rates of increase over this period, the share of all certificates earned by Hispanic students increased by 6 percentage points (from 14 to 21 percent) between 2000–01 and 2015–16. In contrast, the share of certificates earned by White students decreased by 8 percentage points over this period (from 61 to 53 percent). The shares of all certificates earned by Black, Asian/Pacific Islander, and American Indian/Alaska Native students changed by 1 percentage point or less between 2000–01 and 2015–16.

At the associate’s degree level, the number of degrees awarded to Hispanic students more than tripled (a 242 percent increase, from 57,300 to 196,000) and the number of degrees awarded to Black students more than doubled (a 110 percent increase, from 63,900 to 134,000) between academic years 2000–01 and 2015–16. During this period, the number of associate’s degrees awarded also increased by 89 percent for Asian/Pacific Islander students (from 28,500 to 53,800), by 43 percent for American Indian/Alaska Native students (from 6,600 to 9,500), and by 38 percent for White students (from 411,100 to 566,700). As a result of the differing rates of increase over this period, the share of all associate’s degrees earned by Hispanic students increased by 10 percentage points (from 10 to 20 percent) between 2000–01 and 2015–16. In contrast, the share of associate’s degrees earned by White students decreased by 15 percentage points over this period (from 72 to 57 percent). Meanwhile, the shares of all associate’s degrees earned by Black, Asian/Pacific Islander, and American Indian/Alaska Native students changed by 2 percentage points or less between 2000–01 and 2015–16.

At the bachelor’s degree level, the number of degrees awarded to Hispanic students more than tripled between academic years 2000–01 and 2015–16 (a 202 percent increase, from 77,700 to 235,000). During this period, the number of bachelor’s degrees awarded also increased by 75 percent for both Asian/Pacific Islander students (from 78,900 to 138,300) and Black students (from 111,300 to 194,500), and by 29 percent for White students (from 927,400 to 1.2 million). The number of bachelor’s degrees awarded to American Indian/Alaska Native students was higher in 2015–16 (9,700) than in 2000–01 (9,000). As a result of the differing rates of increase over this period, the share of all bachelor’s degrees earned by Hispanic students increased by 6 percentage points (from 6 to 13 percent) between 2000–01 and 2015–16. In contrast, the share of bachelor’s degrees earned by White students decreased by 12 percentage points over this period (from 77 to 65 percent). Meanwhile, the shares of all bachelor’s degrees earned by Black, Asian/Pacific Islander, and American Indian/Alaska Native students changed by 1 percentage point or less between 2000–01 and 2015–16.

Across all racial/ethnic groups, female students earned the majority of certificates, associate’s degrees, and bachelor’s degrees. For example, the shares of bachelor’s degrees earned by female students were 64 percent for Black students, 61 percent for American Indian/Alaska Native students, 60 percent for Hispanic students, 59 percent for students of Two or more races, 56 percent for White students, and 54 percent for Asian/Pacific Islander students.

1 For the purposes of this Fact, the term “degree” is used to refer to a postsecondary award at any of the following levels: doctor’s, master’s, bachelor’s, associate’s, and certificate. Data reported by racial/ethnic groups includes only U.S. citizens and permanent residents.


Percentage distribution of associate’s degrees and bachelor’s degrees awarded by degree-granting postsecondary institutions, by race/ethnicity and sex: Academic year 2015–16

The data in this figure is described in the surrounding text.

NOTE: Degree-granting institutions grant associate’s or higher degrees and participate in Title IV federal financial aid programs. Race categories exclude persons of Hispanic ethnicity. Although rounded numbers are displayed, the figures are based on unrounded data. Detail may not sum to totals because of rounding.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. (2019). Status and Trends in the Education of Racial and Ethnic Groups 2018 (NCES 2019-038), Degrees Awarded.

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