This brief explores demographic differences in graduate school enrollment and completion. Students from higher-income backgrounds are more likely than others to enroll, more likely to complete their programs, and more likely to earn degrees likely to generate high earnings. When four-year college graduates from lower-income backgrounds do continue their education beyond college, they are more likely than those from higher-income backgrounds to seek master’s degrees, which yield a considerably lower earnings premium than doctoral and professional degrees. Black college graduates—who make up a much smaller share of their age group than white and Asian college graduates—are actually more likely than those from other racial and ethnic groups to go to graduate school. But they disproportionately enroll in master’s degree programs and about one-quarter of black master’s degree students attend for-profit institutions.
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