who in the world has a college degree

Who in the World Holds a College Degree?

Updated By Staff Writer on November 4, 2020

Humans have walked on the moon, cloned sheep, created cars that run on used French fry oil, and so much more. A large part of what we’ve accomplished is because of education. With so many strides in science and the arts, the majority of people have been to college, right?

Not quite. Worldwide the rate of college graduates is actually quite low. While the world is constantly growing, global higher education statistics aren’t as high as some people assume.

This discrepancy comes in part from public perception. Many success stories talk about where people graduated from or what degrees they’ve earned. People with college degrees are often the ones who make changes and become more prominent and alter their communities.

So what’s the breakdown of those who have college degrees and those who don’t? Find out more about what percent of the world has a college degree and how a degree can change a person’s life in the following article.

Higher Education in the World vs. the USA

Only 6.7% of the world population has a Bachelor’s degree.1 But that’s worldwide; the number of completed degrees in the USA is significantly higher.

How many people have a college degree in the USA? According to the US Census Bureau, more than one-third of the adult population in the United States has a Bachelor’s degree. In 2019, 35% of the US population1 had completed four years of college or more with an average of 47.4% of adults2 having earned a degree.

For people who are 25 to 34 years old, the numbers are higher than the national average. In that age group, 50% of the population has some sort of postsecondary degree.3

  Degree Percentage with a postsecondary degree, by highest degree attained
Associate’s 10
Bachelor’s 28
Master’s 10
Doctoral 2
Total 50

US College Graduates Demographics

Diversity and inclusion have been steadily improving and growing in US colleges.

Distribution of degrees by race/ethnicity in 20174

  Race/Ethnicity Percentage of Associate’s Degrees Conferred
White 56
Hispanic 21
Black 13
Asian 6
Two or More Races 3
Native American / Alaska Native 1


  Race/Ethnicity Percentage of Bachelor’s Degrees Conferred
White 64
Hispanic 14
Black 11
Asian 8
Two or More Races 4
Native American / Alaska Native 0.5


Benefits of a College Education

One of the biggest questions when it comes to higher education is, is it worth it? The Federal Reserve Bank of New York found that college is still a good investment:5 On average, the typical college graduate earns more each year than someone with a high school diploma.

While a college graduate makes more money, students have to consider the initial cost of paying for that education. Is college still worth it with the large price tag attached to it? In investment terms, the rate of return on a college investment is just under 14%.5 This might not sound like much, but compared to other investments like stocks and bonds (that have a rate of return of 7% and 3% respectively) a 14% return is well worth it for most people.

Not only does having a college education help set you on a more lucrative career path, but it plays a role in the future of your family. Children of parents who have attended college are much more likely to attend college themselves.6

Degrees from Independence University

Earning your college degree isn’t impossible. At Independence University, we focus on preparing our students with the knowledge and practical experience they need to find a successful career.

Find out which degrees are available so you can become a proud graduate of Independence University.


  1. https://educateinspirechange.org/alternative-news/how-many-people-of-the-world-have-a-college-degree/
  2. https://data.oecd.org/eduatt/adult-education-level.htm#indicator-chart
  3. https://nces.ed.gov/programs/coe/indicator_cac.asp
  4. https://educationdata.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/distribution-of-associates-and-bachelors-degrees-conferred-in-2017-by-raceethnicity.png
  5. https://libertystreeteconomics.newyorkfed.org/2019/06/despite-rising-costs-college-is-still-a-good-investment.html
  6. https://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2018421