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Women’s Enrollment Continues to Increase

June 5, 2006

The Condition of Education 2006, published annually by the Department of Education, once again pointed to increasing numbers of women enrolling in undergraduate and graduate education, outpacing their male counterparts.  The number of women has exceeded the number of men enrolled in undergraduate education (at both two- and four-year degree-granting institutions) since 1978. In 2005, women comprised 57 percent of the total undergraduate enrollment, and 59 percent of total graduate enrollment.  During the past 30 years, women have more than doubled their enrollment in graduate and first-professional programs.  Furthermore, women are earning an equal number of degrees in medicine and law—fields once dominated by men—and earn more degrees in the most-popular undergraduate major—business. 

Findings on other indicators include:

  • The increase in the number of associate degrees awarded between 1989-90 and 2003-04 was higher than the increase in the number of bachelor’s degrees over the same time period, 46 percent and 33 percent, respectively. 

  • Although the field of engineering and engineering technologies remained in the top five by number of bachelor’s degrees awarded in 2003-04, the field experienced a decline of 5 percent in the number of awards over the past 15 years.

  • The number of students who immediately enroll in college after high school has increased over the past 30 years, from 49 percent of high school completers in 1972, to 67 percent in 2004.


The report contains several postsecondary education indicators and can be downloaded from the National Center for Education Statistics Web site.