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Doing the math: More in DC area, US getting advanced degrees

The number of people in the U.S. with master's and doctoral degrees has doubled over the past two decades to more than 25 million. (iStock / Getty Images Plus)

WASHINGTON — It’s not your imagination: You and your neighbors are getting smarter, and you have the diplomas on the wall to prove it.

The number of people in the U.S. with master’s and doctoral degrees has doubled over the past two decades to more than 25 million last year, according to new data from the U.S. Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Overall, about 13.1 percent of U.S. adults have an advanced degree — up from 8.6 percent in 2000.

In the broader D.C. area, the number of people with master’s and doctorates also continued a steady climb upward, according to data from the Current Population Survey, the primary source of U.S. labor force statistics.

In both D.C. and Maryland, the percentage of people with advanced degrees is higher than the national average.

Advanced degrees are considered a master’s degree; a professional degree, such as a doctor of dental surgery degree or law degree; or a doctoral degree.

In the District, more than a quarter of residents — 25.4 percent — now have advanced degrees. That’s up from 16.9 percent in 2003.

In Maryland, just under 15 percent of the population — 14.9 percent — have advanced degrees. That’s up from about 11 percent in 2003.

In Virginia, 11.8 percent of residents have advanced degrees, up from less than 8 percent in 2003.

Overall, the Census data find that becoming more highly educated translates into a bump in pay. On average, a person with an advanced degree makes 3.7 times as much as someone who drops out of high school, according to 2017 data.

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