Graduate completions nearly doubled between 1996 and 2016 as students responded to changing job requirements and large earnings advantages available to those with advanced degrees. Alongside international students, Black or African American and Hispanic or Latino students each comprised a growing share of graduate completers over this span, but other racial and ethnic groups made little headway in graduate enrollments. Moreover, apart from Asian students, domestic students of color remain both overrepresented in the for-profit sector and underrepresented among STEM completers at all degree levels, limiting their access to lucrative career opportunities in rapidly expanding fields.
Graduate Degree Completions, by Race and Ethnicity
Over 2.3 million master’s degrees were awarded between 2015 and 2017. Of all master’s degree recipients, 50.9 percent were White, 25.5 percent were students of color, 17.0 percent were international students, and 6.7 percent were students of unknown racial and ethnic backgrounds.
Over 530,000 doctoral and professional degrees were awarded between 2015 and 2017. Of all doctoral and professional degree recipients, 56.0 percent were White, 25.9 percent were students of color, 12.1 percent were international students, and 6.1 percent were students of unknown racial and ethnic backgrounds.
 The term students of color includes American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian, Black or African American, Hispanic or Latino, and Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander students, as well as students of more than one race.