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More Americans Earning Master's, Doctorate Degrees



By Catherine Groux
Posted January 23, 2013 05:00 PM

More Americans are earning master's and doctorate degrees.
More Americans are earning master's and doctorate degrees.

In recent years, an increasing number of Americans have discovered the growing importance of higher education. This is reflected in new statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau, which show that more individuals are earning college credentials, particularly master's and doctoral degrees.

Between 2002 and 2012, the number of people with an associate's degree rose by 5 million, or 31%, the census data shows. At the same time, the number of bachelor's degree holders grew by 25%, reaching 41 million.

While these are both significant milestones for the nation, the census data indicates that the number of Americans earning master's and doctorate degrees is growing at an even faster rate. In the past decade, the population with a master's degree climbed by 5 million, or 43%, while the number of Americans with a doctorate grew by 1 million, or 45%.

According to the Pew Research Center, which analyzed graduation trends using census data in a November 2012 report, there are several reasons for the nation's climbing degree attainment rates. For example, the economic downturn eliminated many jobs typically held by high school diploma holders, forcing these employees to return to school to find new positions. Additionally, an increasing number of Americans see the value in going to college and earning a degree to achieve life success. 

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