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Hispanics with advanced degrees more than doubled in last two decades

From 2001-2021, the number of Hispanics now holding an advanced degree escalated from 710,000 to over 2.5 million

Hispanic student and family celebrating graduation
Hispanic student and family celebrating graduation | Shutterstock

October 10, 2023 10:26am

Updated: October 15, 2023 1:32pm

Hispanic Americans have been the fastest growing demographic for earning advanced degrees out of any ethnic or racial group in the United States, according to a recent Oct. 3 Pew Research Center study.

When Pew researchers reviewed graduate student data from 1990 and 2000 censuses and 2010 and 2021 American Community Surveys, they determined that compared to white, Black and Asian Americans, Hispanics experienced the most significant growth in advanced degrees. 

According to the study, “Key Facts about U.S. Latinos with graduate degrees” from 2001-2021, the number of Hispanics now holding an advanced degree escalated from 710,000 to over 2.5 million. Today there are more than 62 million Hispanics living in the United States, accounting for 19% of the national population.

“In 2021, nearly 2.5 million Latinos in the United States held advanced degrees such as master’s degrees or doctorates. This represented a huge increase over 2000, when 710,000 Latinos held advanced degrees. The shift reflects Latinos’ broader increase in postsecondary enrollment and rising educational attainment,” the Pew Research center wrote.

The high number was in large part due to the educational efforts of Latinas, according to the study.

Breaking down the two decade long increase, there was a 291% increase in the number of Hispanic women and a 199% increase in Latino men with graduate degrees.

In 1990, about 60,000 fewer Hispanic women than Hispanic men had an advanced degree. A decade later, that gender gap was almost closed. By 2010, women outnumbered men among Hispanics with such degrees. And as of 2021, about 290,000 more Hispanic women than men held a graduate degree,” the Pew study says.

The report added that despite the huge increase in the number of Hispanics with advanced degrees, they accounted for only 8% of all advanced degree holders in the U.S. in 2021. That number is far below Hispanics’ 19% share of the overall U.S. population, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of Census Bureau data.

While the number of Hispanics under the age of 25 who now hold a graduate degree nearly doubled from 4% in 2000 to 7% in 2021, a total of which is half the amount of other Americans at 14% -- more than three quarters of Hispanics with educations beyond a bachelor’s degree hold a master’s degree, a proportional number consistent with the overall advanced degree-holding population.

In terms of dividing those Hispanics who migrated to the United States from Latin American countries and those who were natural born, the study found that the latter group was more likely to have a graduate degree. About 37% of all Hispanics who hold advanced degrees are foreign born, the study said.

Natural born Hispanic Americans are more likely to have some university education when compared to those who migrated to the U.S.

According to the study, the majority of natural U.S. born Hispanics have some college education while only a third of those who migrated to the U.S. had some college experience. The study said that Hispanic migrants account for more than a third of all advanced degrees held by Latinos.

The study concluded that Mexicans hold the most advanced degrees at 250,000 in 2021, “followed by Cubans, Colombians, Venezuelans and Dominicans.”

Nearly half of all Hispanics with graduate degrees live in 10 major metropolitan areas, which are not all Latino dominated areas, according to Pew.

According to the study, the rankings are in order from largest to smallest:

New York: 280,000 (11%)

Miami: 230,000 (9%)

Los Angeles: 180,000 (7%)

Houston: 90,000 (4%)

Washington, D.C.: 85,000 (3%)

Chicago: 75,000 (3%)

Dallas: 60,000 (2%)

San Antonio: 60,000 (2%)

San Francisco: 55,000 (2%)

Riverside-San Bernadino-Ontario, California: 55,000 (2%)

The study said it was not clear how many Hispanics have earned their advanced degrees in and out of the United States.

Executive Editor

Gelet Martínez Fragela

Gelet Martínez Fragela is the founder and editor-in-chief of ADN America. She is a Cuban journalist, television producer, and political refugee who also founded ADN Cuba.