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College Graduate - Women
College Graduate - Women in United States
United States

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College Graduate - Women by State

Percentage of women ages 25-44 who graduated from a college or technical school

College Graduate - Women Trends

Percentage of women ages 25-44 who graduated from a college or technical school

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College Graduate - Women

About College Graduate - Women

US Value: 35.6%

Top State(s): Massachusetts: 51.8%

Bottom State(s): Nevada: 23.0%

Definition: Percentage of women ages 25-44 who graduated from a college or technical school

Data Source and Years: CDC, Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, 2019-2020

Suggested Citation: America's Health Rankings analysis of CDC, Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, United Health Foundation,, accessed 2023.

High educational attainment is important to the continuous development of a society. Those who earn a college degree have access to a wide variety of employment opportunities, including managerial, technical and other professional roles, and are compensated more on average than those without a college degree. Income differences between those with a college degree and those with a high school diploma have widened since 1965.  

College graduates tend to engage in healthier behaviors, which contribute positively to health outcomes such as better quality of life and longevity. A 2017 study found that college graduates had a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease regardless of gender and other socioeconomic factors. There is also evidence of a widening disparity in life expectancy between those who completed college and those who did not. College graduates are more likely to participate in civic engagement activities like voting, community service and community organizing, which are also associated with healthier outcomes.

Educated women offer many benefits to society, including:

  • Positive economic development and growth.
  • Increased likelihood of educating subsequent generations.
  • Raising healthier families.

Inadequate education costs the United States hundreds of billions of dollars each year. A study found that if every state in the U.S. had increased the percentage of people with a bachelor's degree by just 1% in the last decade, economic growth would have risen $130.5 billion nationally.

The prevalence of having a college degree is higher among:

  • Women ages 35-44 compared with those ages 25-34.
  • Asian and white women compared with American Indian/Alaska Native, Hispanic, Hawaiian/Pacific Islander and Black women. 
  • Women who have an annual household income of $75,000 or more, who are nearly 7 times more likely to have a college degree than women with an income of $25,000 or less.

Compared with many other nations, the U.S. has made significant strides in women’s education; more than half of the bachelor's degrees awarded in the U.S. since 1982 have gone to women. Despite this success, many women still do not have access to a college education. College access programs can help underrepresented high school students prepare for college, and have been shown to increase college enrollment.

Cost is a barrier for many low-income students. To address the rising cost of college, policymakers can invest in need-based financial aid, ensure that free college programs cover the full cost of attending college, and reinvest in state-level higher education.

Cloete, Nico, Peter Maassen, and Pundy Pillay. “Higher Education and National Development, Meanings and Purposes.” In The International Encyclopedia of Higher Education Systems and Institutions, edited by Pedro Nuno Teixeira and Jung Cheol Shin, 629–37. Dordrecht: Springer Netherlands, 2020.

Hummer, Robert A., and Elaine M. Hernandez. “The Effect of Educational Attainment on Adult Mortality in the United States.” Population Bulletin 68, no. 1 (June 2013): 1–16.

Kubota, Yasuhiko, Gerardo Heiss, Richard F. MacLehose, Nicholas S. Roetker, and Aaron R. Folsom. “Association of Educational Attainment With Lifetime Risk of Cardiovascular Disease: The Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study.” JAMA Internal Medicine 177, no. 8 (August 1, 2017): 1165.

Luy, Marc, Marina Zannella, Christian Wegner-Siegmundt, Yuka Minagawa, Wolfgang Lutz, and Graziella Caselli. “The Impact of Increasing Education Levels on Rising Life Expectancy: A Decomposition Analysis for Italy, Denmark, and the USA.” Genus 75, no. 1 (December 2019): 11.

Olshansky, S. Jay, Toni Antonucci, Lisa Berkman, Robert H. Binstock, Axel Boersch-Supan, John T. Cacioppo, Bruce A. Carnes, et al. “Differences In Life Expectancy Due To Race And Educational Differences Are Widening, And Many May Not Catch Up.” Health Affairs 31, no. 8 (August 2012): 1803–13.

Taylor, Paul, Kim Parker, Rich Morin, Rick Fry, Eileen Patten, and Anna Brown. “The Rising Cost of Not Going to College.” Pew Research Center, February 11, 2014.


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America’s Health Rankings builds on the work of the United Health Foundation to draw attention to public health and better understand the health of various populations. Our platform provides relevant information that policymakers, public health officials, advocates and leaders can use to effect change in their communities.

We have developed detailed analyses on the health of key populations in the country, including women and children, seniors and those who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces, in addition to a deep dive into health disparities across the country.