73 Bachelor’s Degree Statistics and Facts

woman in cap and gown smiling off to her left wearing flowers around graduation cap after earning her bachelor's degree

In the modern job market, the significance of a bachelor’s degree cannot be overstated. The importance of a bachelor’s degree in today’s job market has grown exponentially, becoming a foundational stepping stone for many aspiring professionals. Over the years, the evolution of the bachelor’s degree has mirrored the changing demands and expectations of employers, educators, and students alike. As we delve into the world of bachelor’s degree statistics, we’ll uncover why a bachelor’s degree is essential and how its value has transformed over time.

What a Bachelor’s Degree Entails

The origins of the bachelor’s degree can be traced back to ancient educational institutions, where the title “baccalaureus” was bestowed upon scholars who had completed their initial phase of studies. Over the centuries, this academic recognition evolved, adapting to the socio-economic and cultural shifts of different eras. In the modern context, the bachelor’s degree has become a symbol of academic achievement and a prerequisite for many professional endeavors. Its transformation over the years reflects the dynamic nature of education and its responsiveness to societal needs.

Types of Bachelor’s Degrees

While the term “bachelor’s degree” is universally recognized, it encompasses a variety of specializations and disciplines:

  • BA (Bachelor of Arts): Typically awarded in the fields of humanities, arts, and social sciences. It emphasizes critical thinking, communication skills, and a broad-based education.
  • BS (Bachelor of Science): More common in technical, scientific, and mathematical disciplines. It focuses on empirical methods, research, and practical applications.
  • BFA (Bachelor of Fine Arts): Reserved for students pursuing artistic and creative disciplines such as visual arts, theater, and dance. It combines rigorous technique training with creative exploration.

Among others, there are degrees like Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA), Bachelor of Engineering (BE), and Bachelor of Laws (LLB), each tailored to its respective field and offering unique curricular structures.

Benefits of Obtaining a Bachelor’s Degree

The decision to pursue a bachelor’s degree is often driven by a combination of personal aspirations and practical considerations. Here are some compelling advantages:

  • Employment Opportunities: A bachelor’s degree often serves as a gateway to a wider range of job opportunities, with many employers considering it a minimum requirement.
  • Earning Potential: Statistics consistently show that individuals with a bachelor’s degree tend to earn significantly more over their lifetime compared to those without.
  • Personal Growth: Beyond the academic knowledge, the journey towards obtaining a bachelor’s degree fosters critical thinking, problem-solving skills, and a global perspective.
  • Advanced Studies: For those looking to delve deeper into academia, a bachelor’s degree is often the first step, paving the way for master’s and doctoral programs.

Societal Contributions: Educated individuals often play pivotal roles in societal advancements, contributing to innovation, policy-making, and community development.

two people working on laptop together

Number and Rate of Bachelor’s Degree Holders

  1. As of 2021, there were over 56 million people in the U.S. with bachelor’s degrees. (source)
  2. The number of college graduates in the U.S. has increased steadily since 2000. (source)
  3. 49.6% of all college graduates earn bachelor’s degrees. (source)
  4. 22.3% of bachelor’s degree earners take more than four (4) years to complete their program.  (source)
  5. 2,038,431 graduates earned bachelor’s degrees in 2020, up 1.23% YoY. (source)
  6. 37.3% more bachelor’s degrees were conferred in 2020 than in 2010. (source)
  7. 64.7% more bachelor’s degrees were conferred in 2020 than in 2000. (source)
  8. 24.9% of adults age 18 and older had a bachelor’s degree or higher in 2022. (source)
  9. In 2022, 16.2% of adults age 25 and older with a disability had a bachelor’s degree or higher. (source)
  10. In 2022, 37.6% of adults age 25 and older without a disability had a bachelor’s degree or higher. (source)

By Sex or Gender:

  1. Among bachelor’s degree holders, female graduates have outnumbered male graduates since 2015. (source)
  2. Among 18- to -24-year-olds, bachelor’s degree earners accounted for 10% of the male population. (source)
  3. Among 18- to -24-year-olds, bachelor’s degree earners accounted for 13% of the female population. (source)
  4. In 2020, women earned 57% of all bachelor’s degrees conferred in the U.S. (source)
  5. In 2022, 39.0% of women age 25 and older had completed a bachelor’s degree or more as their highest level of educational attainment. (source)
  6. In 2022, 36.2% of men age 25 and older had completed a bachelor’s degree or more as their highest level of educational attainment. (source)

*Note: There are few statistics that include nonbinary genders in official sources. In most cases, the terms “sex” and “gender” are used interchangeably.

By Race or Ethnicity:

  1. In 2019, White 25- to 29-year-olds were 55% more likely than their Black counterparts to have bachelor’s degrees or higher. (source)
  2. Between Whites and Latino/Hispanics in this age group, the 2019 gap was 114%. (source)
  3. In 2022, 68.8% of non-Hispanic White adults age 25 and older had a bachelor’s degree or higher. (source)
  4. In 2022, 25.5% of Black adults age 25 and older had a bachelor’s degree or higher. (source)
  5. In 2022, 20.8% of Hispanic adults age 25 and older had a bachelor’s degree or higher. (source)
  6. In 2022, 60.4% of Asian adults age 25 and older had a bachelor’s degree or higher. (source)
  7. The percentage of bachelor’s degrees conferred in a STEM field was:
    1. 37 percent for Asian students;
    2. 22 percent for students of Two or more races;
    3. 20 percent for White students;
    4. 18 percent for Hispanic students; and
    5. 15 percent each for Pacific Islander, Black, and American Indian/Alaska Native students.
    6. Less than one-half of 1 percent each were conferred to American Indian/Alaska Native and Pacific Islander students. (source)
adults age 25 and older born in the U.S. had a bachelor's degree or higher

U.S. or Foreign-born:

  1. Naturalized citizens and the children of immigrants both had high levels of educational attainment in 2022. (source)
  2. 41.6% of naturalized immigrants have a bachelor’s degree or higher. (source)
  3. 43.4% of children of immigrants have a bachelor’s degree or higher. (source)
  4. In 2022, 34.2% of adults age 25 and older born in the U.S. had a bachelor’s degree or higher. (source)
  5. In 2022, 29.4% of adults age 25 and older born outside the U.S. had a bachelor’s degree or higher. (source)
  6. Among U.S. nonresident students, 36 percent of bachelor’s degrees conferred were in a STEM field. (source)
  7. 8% of bachelor’s degrees in a STEM field were conferred to U.S. nonresident students. (source)

Fields of Study:

  1. Of the 2.1 million bachelor’s degrees conferred in 2020–21, some 58 percent were concentrated in six fields of study. (source)
    1. The most popular field of study for bachelor’s degrees was business. (source)
    2. The second most popular field of study for bachelor’s degrees was health professions and related programs. (source)
    3. The third most popular field of study for bachelor’s degrees was social sciences and history. (source)
    4. The fourth most popular field of study for bachelor’s degrees was psychology. (source)
    5. The fifth most popular field of study for bachelor’s degrees was biological and biomedical sciences. (source)
    6. The sixth most popular field of study for bachelor’s degrees was engineering. (source)
    7. Of these, only social sciences and history showed a decrease in the number of bachelor’s degrees conferred (from 177,200 to 160,800 degrees, or 9 percent decrease). (source)
    8. Computer and Information Sciences degrees exploded between 2010–11 and 2020–21 (from 43,100 to 104,900 degrees conferred, an increase of 144 percent). (source)
    9. Among the 2,066,400 million bachelor’s degrees conferred in 2020–21, some 21 percent (437,300 degrees) were in a STEM field. (source)
    10. Females earned the majority of degrees in these four fields of study:
    11. health professions and related programs (85 percent);
      • Psychology (80 percent);
      • biological and biomedical sciences (66 percent); and social sciences and history (52 percent). (source)
    1. Males earned the majority of degrees conferred in engineering (76 percent) and business (53 percent). (source)
    2. The field of computer and information sciences had the highest percentage of workers with a bachelor’s degree or higher, with 88% of workers holding at least a bachelor’s degree. (source)
    3. The field of education had the highest percentage of workers with a bachelor’s degree or higher, with 92% of workers holding at least a bachelor’s degree. (source)
The Median lifetime earnings for someone with a bachelor’s degree is $2.8 million

Earnings and Employment

  1. The Median lifetime earnings for someone with a bachelor’s degree is $2.8 million. (source)
  2. In 2022, the median usual weekly earnings for full-time workers with a bachelor’s degree was $1,432. (source)
  3. People with a bachelor’s degree make 68% more in median weekly earnings than those with only a high school diploma. (source)
  4. People with a bachelor’s degree make 42% more in median weekly earnings than those with an associate degree. (source)
  5. Men with bachelor’s degrees would earn $655,000 more in median lifetime earnings than high school graduates. (source)
  6. Women with bachelor’s degrees would earn $450,000 more in median lifetime earnings than high school graduates. (source)
  7. The lifetime value at age 20 of a bachelor’s degree relative to a high school diploma is $260,000 for men and $180,000 for women. (source)
  8. Bachelor’s degree holders make $1.2 million in additional earnings on average over their lifetime compared to high school graduates. (source)
  9. Among workers with a bachelor’s degree, those in the engineering field had the highest median usual weekly earnings at $1,800 in 2020. (source)
  10. 72% of bachelor’s degree holders are employed as civilians.(source)
  11. 27% were not employed in the civilian labor force. (source)
  12. The unemployment rate for individuals with a bachelor’s degree or higher was 3.5% in 2021, compared to 6.2% for those with only a high school diploma. (source)

The incidence of poverty among bachelor’s degree holders is 3.5 times lower than it is for those who hold high school degrees. (source)

woman works on a laptop in a living room

Online vs. Traditional Bachelor’s Degrees

The dawn of the digital age has brought with it a revolution in education. The rise of online education, especially in the realm of online bachelor’s degrees, is a testament to the changing dynamics of learning in the modern era. As we navigate through the statistics and trends, it becomes imperative to understand the nuances of online versus traditional bachelor’s degrees.

Online Bachelor’s Degree Statistics:
  1. Online learning can help students retain between 25% and 60% more information than traditional classroom settings. (source)
  2. E-learning requires 40% to 60% less time learning than traditional classrooms. (source)
  3. An online degree is typically more than $10K cheaper than a traditional on-campus degree. (source)
  4. Online institutions maintain a low student-to-professor ratio. (source)
  5. 84% of online undergraduates at ranked programs are employed. (source)
  6. 92% of employers view online degrees from brick-and-mortar schools as equal to traditional degrees. (source)
Rise and Significance of Online Education

Online education has witnessed an unprecedented surge in the last two decades. With advancements in technology and the increasing need for flexibility, many students and professionals are turning to online platforms to further their education. The significance of online education lies not just in its accessibility but also in its ability to cater to diverse learning styles, offering a personalized approach to education.

Factors to Consider

When choosing between online and traditional degrees, consider the following:

  • Flexibility: If you need a flexible schedule, online might be the way to go.
  • Interaction: For those who thrive in collaborative environments, traditional degrees offer more face-to-face interactions.
  • Costs: Online degrees can sometimes be more cost-effective, but it’s essential to factor in the value of the degree and the institution’s reputation.

Accreditation: Ensure that the program, whether online or traditional, is accredited by recognized bodies.

Bachelor of Arts in Social Science with an Inspired Teaching and Learning Preliminary Single Subject Credential (California) Program Page

Conclusion

The journey through our bachelor’s degree statistics and facts reveals the multifaceted nature of modern education. Whether one opts for the traditional brick-and-mortar institutions or the digital classrooms of online platforms, the essence remains the same: the pursuit of knowledge and personal growth. The value and versatility of a bachelor’s degree are undeniable, serving as a beacon for those aspiring to climb the ladder of academic and professional success. As you contemplate your academic journey, delve deeper, explore the sources, and make informed choices that resonate with your goals and aspirations.

Sources

  1. https://nces.ed.gov/blogs/nces/post/behind-the-degree
  2. https://nces.ed.gov/programs/coe/indicator/cta
  3. https://www.bls.gov/careeroutlook/2021/article/field-of-degree-and-careers.htm
  4. https://www.bls.gov/careeroutlook/2023/data-on-display/education-pays.htm
  5. https://www.bls.gov/emp/chart-unemployment-earnings-education.htm
  6. https://www.census.gov/newsroom/press-releases/2023/educational-attainment-data.html
  7. https://www.statista.com/statistics/184260/educational-attainment-in-the-us/
  8. https://www.census.gov/data/tables/2022/demo/educational-attainment/cps-detailed-tables.html
  9. https://www.ssa.gov/policy/docs/research-summaries/education-earnings.html 
  10. https://educationdata.org/number-of-college-graduates
  11. https://www.aplu.org/our-work/4-policy-and-advocacy/publicuvalues/employment-earnings/
  12. https://educationdata.org/education-attainment-statistics
  13. https://cew.georgetown.edu/cew-reports/collegepayoff2021/
  14. https://upskillwise.com/in-person-vs-online-learning-statistics/
  15. https://www.utep.edu/extendeduniversity/utepconnect/blog/january-2018/the-who-what-when-and-why-behind-online-education.html
  16. https://www.usnews.com/higher-education/online-education/articles/2017-04-04/us-news-data-the-average-online-bachelors-student
  17. https://bachelors-completion.northeastern.edu/news/are-online-degrees-respected/

Learn More About Our University and Scholarships

Join our email list!

Recent Resources

Your passion. Our Programs.

Choose an Area of Study

Your passion. Our Programs.

Select a degree level

View Programs