Numbers, Facts and Trends Shaping Your World

Hispanic Student Enrollments Reach New Highs in 2011

IV. College Graduation and Hispanics

Over the past four decades, the number of Hispanics graduating with either an associate or a bachelor’s degree has increased seven-fold, with growth outpacing that of other groups. As a result, not only has the number of Hispanic degree recipients grown, so too has their share of all college degree recipients. Even so, the number of Hispanics awarded college degrees lags that of other groups, and their share of college graduates remains below that of all college student enrollments.

In 2010, the number of degrees conferred on Hispanics of all ages reached record levels. According to the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics (Snyder and Dillow, 2012), 112,000 Hispanics received an associate degree and 140,000 Hispanics were awarded a bachelor’s degree—both new highs.7

Despite a record number of degrees conferred on Hispanic college students, they continue to lag other groups. In 2010, 1.2 million bachelor’s degrees were awarded to non-Hispanic white students and 165,000 to non-Hispanic black students. Overall, some 1.7 million bachelor’s degrees were awarded in 2010.

At the associate level, the number of degrees awarded to Hispanics trailed that of non-Hispanic whites (553,000), but nearly matched the number awarded to non-Hispanic blacks (114,000).

The Hispanic share among degree recipients from two-year and four-year colleges has also reached a record. In 2010, 8.5% of all bachelor’s recipients were Hispanic, up from 8.1% in 2009. Among all associate degree recipients, 13.2% were Hispanic, also a record.

While the number of Hispanics receiving a college degree has grown, the number of degrees conferred on Hispanics trails other groups. Among the 1.7 million bachelor’s degrees awarded in 2010, 71% were awarded to non-Hispanic whites, 10% to non-Hispanic blacks, and 7% to non-Hispanic Asian/Pacific Islanders.

Among associate degree recipients in 2010, the share of Hispanics matched that of non-Hispanic blacks—13%—and was more than double the 5% share of non-Hispanic Asian/Pacific Islanders. Two-thirds (65%) of the 849,000 associate degree recipients in 2010 were non-Hispanic white.


Fry, Richard. 2011. “Hispanic College Enrollment Spikes, Narrowing Gaps with Other Groups.” Washington, DC: Pew Hispanic Center.

Heckman, James J., and Paul A. LaFontaine. 2007. “The American High School Graduation Rate: Trends and Levels.” Discussion Paper No. 3216. Bonn, Germany: Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA), December.

Passel, Jeffrey, D’Vera Cohn and Mark Hugo Lopez.  2011. “Hispanics Account for More than Half of Nation’s Growth in Past Decade.” Washington, DC: Pew Hispanic Center, March.

Snyder, Thomas D., and Sally A. Dillow. 2012. National Center for Education Statistics, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education. “Digest of Education Statistics, 2011.” Washington, D.C.: June.

Swanson, Christopher B. 2012. “Graduation Rate Keeps Climbing; Strong Gains for Latino Students.” Education Week: June 7.

U.S. Census Bureau. 2011. “CPS Historical Time Series Tables on School Enrollment.” Washington, D.C.

U.S. Census Bureau, Population Division. 2008. “Projected Population by Single Year of Age, Sex, Race, and Hispanic Origin for the United States: July 1, 2000 to July 1, 2050.” Washington, D.C.: August.

  1. The number of associate and bachelor’s degrees conferred as reported by the U.S. Department of Education reflect all degrees awarded to graduates of all ages, not just those of traditional college age (ages 18 to 24 years).
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