Graduate Completions: 2001 to 2021

The total number of graduate degrees and certificates earned rose sharply between 2001 and 2021, growing from about 618,000 to 1.15 million. Postbaccalaureate certificate completions rose from 24,854 in 2001 to 86,616 in 2021—a 249 percent increase. The share of postbaccalaureate certificates among all graduate completions increased from about 4 percent in 2001 to 7.5 percent in 2021. Master’s degrees still accounted for three-quarters of graduate completions in 2021, with a slight decrease from 75.8 percent in 2001 to 75.5 percent in 2021. While the total number of doctoral degrees earned increased between 2001 and 2021, the share of doctoral degrees among all graduate completions slightly decreased. Professional or other doctoral degrees fell from 12.9 percent of the total in 2001 to 10.6 percent in 2021, and research doctoral degrees fell from 7.3 percent of the total to 6.3 percent.[1]

Graduate Completions, by Award Level, Select Years: 2001, 2005, 2009, 2013, 2017, and 2021


U.S. Department of Education, Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, 2001, 2005, 2009, 2013, 2017, and 2021


Data reflect graduate degrees and certificates earned at all Title IV eligible, degree-granting institutions.

[1]The data in this chapter include only students’ first majors to avoid counting multiple completions.