How Many People Use Their Degrees

How Many People Use Their Degrees in 2024? Just 27%!

Published on: October 5, 2023
Last Updated: October 5, 2023

How Many People Use Their Degrees in 2024? Just 27%!

Published on: October 5, 2023
Last Updated: October 5, 2023

Quick Answer 🔍

How many people use their degrees in 2024?

According to a study, only 27% of people use their degrees.

Not all people in the labor force have jobs in line with their respective academic degrees. But many still do.

The convenience of doing a job related to one’s field of study makes tasks easier to do.

On the other hand, obtaining a degree comes with a hefty sum of money, time, and effort which discourages many to pursue one.

In this article, we will discuss the percentage of people using their degrees.

The information contains fact-based surveys and years of labor market studies to support our findings.

Read on to know interesting facts about the employment sector.

How Many People Use Their Degrees in 2024?

In this day and age where information on almost any field of interest is available on the internet even without formal education, how many college graduates use their degrees in 2024?

According to a study conducted by the New York Federal Reserve Bank, only 27% of people use their degrees.

The findings cover six broad study fields namely languages and philosophy, social science, business, communications, and information technology.

Percentage of Men Not Using Their Degrees

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A big percentage of the male population say their degrees are not worth the time and effort.

41.10% of men who are degree holders say they are not using their degrees nor are working in fields related to their tertiary education.

This comes as 25.11% of survey participants could not find a job related to their respective fields. 

Percentage of Women Not Using Their Degrees

Meanwhile, data from the female population did not perform any better.

39.92% of women said they are not using their degrees.

A big chunk of the total or 31.09% said they could not find a job related to their academic undertaking.

What is an Academic Degree?

An academic degree is a set of credentials that students earn by completing a number of programs related to their field of study.

There are five common types of academic degrees, with each requiring different requisites and varies in length of years for completion.

The associate degree is usually a two-year program for students planning to advance fast to their professional careers after secondary education.

A bachelor’s degree is the most common type of academic undertaking and usually lasts for four years.

After this, a student may opt to pursue a master’s degree to focus on specialized, higher-level education which takes two to three years to complete.

For highly-specialized advanced study seekers, the doctoral degree is the highest form of academic degree available today and focuses on academic research expansion in one’s field.

Lastly, some professionals opt to secure a professional degree that requires licensing to increase their competitiveness in their respective companies.

Percentage of Millennials with Degree

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71.0% of millennials or those born between 1981 to 1994/1996 have degrees.

They have the highest percentage of degree holders compared to Generation X and Baby Boomers.

On the other hand, 38.6% of the members of this generation say they are not using their degrees, with 25.5% claiming they could not find a job related to it.

Percentage of Generation X with Degree

Generation X which are born between 1965 to 1979/1980 also have a high degree holder percentage of 64.3%.

However, they also have the highest number of graduates claiming they could not find a job on their fields. 29.9% of Gen Xers say they suffer from an underemployment dilemma.

Percentage of Baby Boomers with Degree

Baby boomers, born between 1946 to 1964, have 53.2% of degree holders.

A surprising case of 47.0% claim to have not used nor are not using their academic credentials. 

Number of Unemployed Persons Globally

Despite the increasing number of degree holders in the past years, unemployment remains a rampant problem globally.

Now that the pandemic sent many businesses to fold, millions of workers are left without jobs.

Here is an unemployment statistics in a ten-year timeline from 2011 to 2021:

  • 2011 – 184.00 million
  • 2012 – 184.95 million
  • 2013 – 184.42 million
  • 2014 – 184.29 million
  • 2015 – 186.94 million
  • 2016 – 190.07 million
  • 2017 – 188.64 million
  • 2018 – 184.78 million
  • 2019 – 185.95 million
  • 2020 – 223.67 million
  • 2021 – 214.21 million

2020 and 2021 saw record-breaking figures on global unemployment incidence which moved past 190.00 million for the first time since 2016.

Most Expensive Degrees in the World

Degrees come with different cost, depending on the field of specialization, course requirements, and field.

Studies show degrees from medicine, engineering, arts, business, and law are the costliest strands to take.

Here is a list of the world’s most expensive degrees:

  • Bachelor of Arts at Sarah Lawrence College
  • Bachelor of Science at Harvey Mudd College
  • Executive MBA at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania
  • Doctor of Medicine at Colombia University
  • Bachelor of Music at Bard College

Most Expensive Universities to Obtain a Degree

The cost of obtaining a degree also depends on which university issues it.

Below are the world’s most expensive universities to obtain a tertiary degree, ranked from most expensive to least, with estimated annual tuition fees.

1. Dartmouth College – $81,000

2. New York University – $80,000

3. Harvey Mudd College – $79,000

4. John Hopkins University – $59,000 to $73,000

5. The University of Chicago – $57,000

US Student Loan Debt

The student loan debt in the United States breaks another record after coming at $1.7 trillion, a latest data shows.

45 million students collectively borrowed this amount, higher than credit card debt of only $841 billion over the same period.


It is important to what percentage of college graduates use their degree in 2024 to help in making a rational decision on whether to pursue one or not.

Despite its high input costs, many are struggling to find jobs related to their field of study.

For those undecided about pursuing their studies, it is important to do your research first before deciding.

Find a creative undertaking you wish to follow and see if spending time and money on formal education will lead to greater benefits in the long run.


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Written by Jason Wise

Hello! I’m the editor at EarthWeb, with a particular interest in business and technology topics, including social media, privacy, and cryptocurrency. As an experienced editor and researcher, I have a passion for exploring the latest trends and innovations in these fields and sharing my insights with our readers. I also enjoy testing and reviewing products, and you’ll often find my reviews and recommendations on EarthWeb. With a focus on providing informative and engaging content, I am committed to ensuring that EarthWeb remains a leading source of news and analysis in the tech industry.