This Spotlight examines the educational attainment of the five largest immigrant groups in the United States, including those from Mexico, the Philippines, India, China (excluding Hong Kong and Taiwan), and Vietnam. According to the results of Census 2000, 62 percent of all foreign born in the United States have at least a high school education. Other measures of educational attainment, such as college or graduate degrees, vary widely by country of origin. The data presented in this Spotlight were derived from the U.S. Census 2000 1 Percent Public Use Micro-Sample (PUMS) file. All of the information presented below refers to immigrants age 24 and over.
Of the 24.9 million foreign born age 24 and over living in the United States in 2000, 1.4 million or 5.8 percent had completed no schooling. The percentage of immigrants from Mexico (11 percent), Vietnam (8.1 percent), and China (7.1 percent) who had no formal education was above that for the total foreign born. Less than two percent of the immigrant populations from the Philippines and India had no formal education.
In 2000, 4.2 million, or 17 percent, of immigrants had less than a high school education (i.e., nursery school through eighth grade). An additional 3.8 million, or 15 percent, had some high school (i.e., between ninth and 12th grade, but no diploma). The percentage of immigrants from Mexico with less than a high school education (36 percent) and with some high school (23 percent) were above those for the total foreign born, as was the percentage of immigrants from Vietnam with some high school (21 percent).
According to the results of Census 2000, 15.4 million, or 62 percent, of all foreign born had a high school or higher degree. Among the five largest foreign-born groups in 2000, immigrants from India (89 percent) were the most likely to have at least a high school diploma. The majority of immigrants from the Philippines (87 percent) and China (70 percent) also had a high school diploma or more. The percentages of the foreign born from Vietnam (61 percent) and especially Mexico (30 percent) were below that of the total immigrant population.
In 2000, 5.9 million or 24 percent of all foreign born had a bachelor's or graduate degree. Immigrants from India (70 percent) were the most likely of the five largest foreign-born groups to have a bachelor's degree or higher. This included 32 percent with a bachelor's degree and 38 percent with a master's, professional, or doctorate degree. Among the foreign born from the Philippines, 45 percent had a bachelor's or graduate degree, while 42 percent of all immigrants from China had a bachelor's or graduate degree.
In 2002, 2.5 million or 10 percent of all immigrants in the United States had a master's, professional, or doctorate degree. Of the 863,000 foreign born from India living in the United States in 2000, 327,000 or 38 percent had a post-graduate degree, including 25 percent with master's, 7.4 percent with professional, and 5.4 percent with doctorate degrees. Of the 840,00 immigrants from China, 198,000 or 24 percent had a post-graduate degree, including 14 percent with a master's, 2.5 percent with professional, and 7.0 percent with doctorate degrees.