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Educational attainment, United States

Codes and Frequencies

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EDUCUS indicates the highest educational level in the United States that the person had completed at the time of the census.

Comparability — General

EDUCUS is fully comparable at the first digit, but there are differences after that. The pre-1990 samples give number of years of schooling at each level. The 1990-2005 samples only report single years of study within secondary education. The 2010 sample reintroduces single years for basic education. There are some other minor differences in detail in secondary education across samples.

The 2010 and 2015 samples identify separately persons with high school diplomas and those with a graduate equivalency diploma (GED).

Most importantly, post-secondary study is split into two divergent classifications at the second digit. The 1990-2010 samples identify the acquisition of secondary and post-secondary degrees, while earlier years give only the number of years of schooling. There is no direct correspondence between years of post-secondary study in 1960-1980 and post-secondary degree earned in 1990-2015.

A harmonized international classification of educational attainment is available in EDATTAIN, which imposes a number of compromises to regularize the data across countries. In contrast, EDUCUS retains the full detail on educational attainment from the U.S. samples.

The number of years of schooling completed is available separately in YRSCHOOL, for the samples that have this information.


  • United States 1960: Persons age 5+
  • United States 1970: Persons age 3+
  • United States 1980: Persons age 3+
  • United States 1990: Persons age 3+
  • United States 2000: Persons age 3+
  • United States 2005: Persons age 3+
  • United States 2010: Persons age 3+
  • United States 2015: Persons age 3+


  • United States: 1960, 1970, 1980, 1990, 2000, 2005, 2010, 2015