Growth in Master’s Degree attainment in DC

We know that the DC metro area is home to a greater share of college graduates than the nation as a whole. We’ve been wondering, though, how the education levels of District residents have changed as the city has gained more residents and seen changes in its job market.

We looked at educational attainment in the District since 2008 and found that while the portion of residents with a bachelor’s degree has remained about the same, there has been a meaningful increase in the percent of residents with a Master’s degree. In 2008, 15 percent of District residents had a master’s degree. That number increased to 19.5 percent by 2013. This increase was greater than the increase nationwide.

District of Columbia 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 Margin     of Error Change
Less than high school 14.2% 12.9% 12.6% 12.8% 11.4% 9.9% +/- 2.2% -30.3%
High School Graduate 19.8% 20.0% 20.3% 17.7% 18.4% 18.6% +/- 0.8% -6.1%
Some college, no degree 14.7% 16.0% 13.8% 14.2% 14.0% 13.4% +/- 0.8% -8.8%
Associate’s degree 3.0% 2.6% 3.2% 2.8% 3.2% 3.1% +/- 0.5% 3.3%
Bachelor’s degree 21.6% 20.5% 23.2% 23.3% 23.0% 22.7% +/- 1.3% 5.1%
Master’s degree 15.0% 15.7% 15.3% 17.3% 17.6% 19.5% +/- 1.0% 30.0%
Professional school degree 7.4% 8.3% 8.1% 8.0% 8.7% 8.9% +/- 0.7% 20.3%
Doctorate degree 4.3% 4.0% 3.6% 3.9% 3.7% 4.0% +/- 0.4% -7.0%

The District now has a greater proportion of residents with a master’s degree than Montgomery County and is closer to Fairfax County than in 2008. The interactive chart below can show other local educational attainment trends too.

(view interactive here)

Dashboard 1

What exactly is this data?

  • Educational attainment was found using American Community Survey (ACS) data. ACS data is provided by the U.S. Census Bureau. Educational attainment is defined as the highest level of education attained by an individual.
  • The reason for choice of surrounding counties has to do with population size and related margins of error.
  • The reason for choice of years has to do with a survey question change that would have made comparing data prior to 2008 less reliable.

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