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College Graduate - Women
College Graduate - Women in California

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

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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

Trend: College Graduate - Women in California, United States, 2023 Health Of Women And Children Report

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

United States

 CDC, Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System

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About College Graduate - Women

US Value: 36.8%

Top State(s): Massachusetts: 48.4%

Bottom State(s): Nevada, Oklahoma: 26.4%

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, 2020-2021

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

Income differences between those with a college degree and those with a high school diploma have widened since 1965. 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. People with a bachelor’s degree earn a median of $2.8 million over their lifetime, while high school diploma earners earn a median of $1.6 million. 

However, more education does not guarantee higher earnings and less education does not always result in lower earnings. There are other benefits to attaining more education. College graduates engage in healthier behaviors, which contribute positively to health outcomes and longevity. For example, a 2017 study found that college graduates had a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease regardless of gender and socioeconomic factors. Furthermore, college graduates are more likely to take part in civic engagement activities like voting, community service and joining formal or informal groups, which are also associated with healthier outcomes. In addition, children of college educated women report better health status than children of mothers with less education.

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, it would have earned an additional $130.5 billion in economic growth nationally.

The U.S. has made significant strides in women’s education, with women earning more than half of the bachelor's degrees awarded in the U.S. since 1982. Despite this success, women of color have significantly lower rates of college and university completion than white women. A report by The Education Trust compared enrollment demographics from 101 highly selective public colleges with state population demographics and found that 14% had a Latino student body proportionate to the population, and just 9% had a proportionate Black student body.

According to America’s Health Rankings data, the prevalence of having a college degree is higher among:

  • Women ages 35-44 compared with women 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. 
  • Women living in metropolitan areas compared with those in non-metropolitan areas.

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

Increasing access to high school guidance counselors can help bridge the college enrollment gap. Support from guidance counselors is linked to improved likelihood of completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), attending any type of college and attending a four-year institution specifically. College access programs have led to increased enrollment by providing low-income and underserved high school students with financial aid counseling, standardized test preparation, campus visits and other elements of the college application process.

Carnevale, Anthony P., Ban Cheah, and Emma Wenzinger. 2021. “The College Payoff: More Education Doesn’t Always Mean More Earnings.” Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce.

Fabina, Jacob, and Zachary Scherer. 2022. “Voting and Registration in the Election of November 2020.” P20-585. Current Population Reports. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Census Bureau.

Holtz-Eakin, Douglas, and Tom Lee. 2019. “The Economic Benefits of Educational Attainment.” American Action Forum.

Hummer, Robert A., and Elaine M. Hernandez. 2013. “The Effect of Educational Attainment on Adult Mortality in the United States.” Population Bulletin 68 (1): 1–16.

Kubota, Yasuhiko, Gerardo Heiss, Richard F. MacLehose, Nicholas S. Roetker, and Aaron R. Folsom. 2017. “Association of Educational Attainment With Lifetime Risk of Cardiovascular Disease: The Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study.” JAMA Internal Medicine 177 (8): 1165.

Lawrence, Elizabeth M., Richard G. Rogers, and Robert A. Hummer. 2020. “Maternal Educational Attainment and Child Health in the United States.” American Journal of Health Promotion 34 (3): 303–6.

Nichols, Andrew Howard. 2020. “‘Segregation Forever’?: The Continued Underrepresentation of Black and Latino Undergraduates at the Nation’s 101 Most Selective Public Colleges and Universities.” The Education Trust.

Nichols, Andrew Howard, Marshall Anthony Jr, and J. Oliver Schak. n.d. “How Affordable Are Public Colleges in Your State?” The Education Trust (blog). Accessed September 25, 2023.

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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.