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Census 2000 Brief: Educational Attainment: 2000

Report Number C2KBR-24
Kurt J. Bauman and Nikki L. Graf

The education levels of the United States population reached an all-time high, according to Census 2000.1 Of the 182.2 million people aged 25 and over on April 1, 2000, 80 percent had a high school diploma or more, and 24 percent had completed at least a bachelor’s degree.

Education has been included in the United States census questionnaire since 1840, when information was collected on literacy of the population 20 years and over. Since that time, questions on education have become more complex. From 1940 to 1980, the census inquired about the number of years of school each person had completed. In 1990 and 2000, the question was updated to reflect current interest in both level of school completed and the types of degrees (if any) people had received. The Census 2000 question allowed respondents to choose from a list of 16 educational levels, ranging from no schooling completed to professional or doctoral degrees (see Figure 1).

This report, part of a series that presents population and housing data collected by Census 2000, presents data on the educational attainment of people 25 years and over in the United States. This report describes education distributions for the United States, including regions, states, counties, and places with populations of 100,000 or more.

1 Comparison with the 1990 census shows a significantly higher proportion of the population 25 and over in 2000 completing each of the following thresholds or more: 5th, 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th grade without a diploma, high school diploma, some college, associate degree, bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, professional degree, and doctoral degree. Censuses from 1940 through 1980 showed even lower levels of education at the high school and bachelor’s degree level (see Figure 3). The text of this report discusses data for the United States, including the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Data for the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico are shown in Table 1 and Figure 4.


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