As a follow-up to our previous blog post looking at broad trends in educational attainment across the United States, we wanted to zoom into the state of Texas specifically to see how educational attainment levels have changed over time. Using the American Community Survey (ACS) data, the visualizations below show data from two perspectives: the counties within 50 miles of each public university in Texas, as well as county-level data for further exploration. While we present all levels of educational attainment for adults (ages 25 and older), which include seven categories ranging from “Less than 9th grade” to “Graduate or professional degree”, we will specifically draw attention to the “some college, no bachelor’s degree”.
- For broad context, approximately 5.4 million of the more than 18.6 million adult Texans (ages 25 and older) have acquired some college credits, but do not have a bachelor’s degree. At 29% of the total adult population, this is the largest group in the educational attainment data for Texas. From 2012 to 2021, the number of adults with some college, no bachelor’s degree increased by 17% from 4.6 million to 5.4 million.
- Five public universities are located in regions where approximately one-third of adults have some college, but no bachelor’s degree: UT Tyler (34.6%), Lamar (33.1%), SFASU (32.9%), WTAMU (32.8%), and ASU (32.5%). Across the 41 counties associated with these five campuses, over 450K adults (out of 1.3 million) have some college, but no bachelor’s degree.
- No public university in Texas is surrounded by counties that have less than 23% of its adult population with some college, but no bachelor’s degree.
- The campuses with the lowest percentage of some college, no bachelor’s degree in 2021 were UTRGV (23.7%), TAMIU (25.7%), Sul Ross (26.2%), UT Austin (26.2%), and Prairie View A&M (26.8%). UTRGV has a higher percentage of adults (25.2%) whose highest educational attainment level was a high school diploma, while UT Austin has a higher percentage of adults (25.7%) with a bachelor’s degree.
- More than 55% (141 out of 254) of Texas counties have at least 30% of their adult population who have some college, no bachelor’s degree. The most-populated counties in this group include Williamson, Montgomery, El Paso, and Bexar counties with overall adult populations ranging from just under 400,000 to almost 1.3 million.
- Seven counties with overall adult populations exceeding 15,000 have between 38 and 43% of their adults with some college, no bachelor’s degree: Coryell (43% – TAMUCT), Lampasas (42% – TAMUCT), Chambers (40% – UH Clear Lake), Panola (39% – SFASU), Bell (39% – TAMUCT), Grayson (39% – Texas Woman’s University), and Randall (38% – WTAMU). The campus listing with each county shows which public university is closest in proximity to the center of that county.
NOTES: Clicking on the selection button on the right for each campus will change the visualizations. The top visualization shows campus-specific location within the counties that have centroids within 50 miles of that campus. The bottom visualization breaks out educational attainment aggregated across these specific counties. “Some College, No Bachelor’s” is a combination of “Some College, No Degree” and “Associate’s Degree” data.
The trends in the educational attainment data show that the state of Texas is certainly becoming more well-educated. In 2012, 26% (4.1M out of 15.8M) of adult Texans had a bachelor’s degree or higher; in 2021, that percentage increased to 32% (5.9M out of 18.6M). The percentage of adults with a high school diploma or lower dropped from 44.5% (7M out of 15.8M) in 2012 to 39.7% (7.4M out of 18.6M) in 2021. However, the group in the middle, those with “some college, no bachelor’s degree” has consistently comprised around 29% of the adult population over the last decade. It is this group of more than 5 million adults in Texas who provide an under-realized potential for increasing enrollments at public universities in Texas. And for the more than 1.4 million adults in 2021 with an earned associate’s degree, but no bachelor’s degree, these individuals serve as the group who could elevate the educational attainment level most quickly as Texas seeks to enhance its standing as a leader in economic development and a premier destination for businesses.