Over half of U.S. adults (53%) state they are not at all likely to get a postgraduate degree in the future compared to a third who had any certainty in acquiring one (32%) or the one-sixth who have (15%).

When asked if they were currently enrolled in a postgraduate degree (17%) replied affirmatively (representative of 6% of the overall population).

For adults who have or are attending a postgraduate program, the reasons were varied, with some of the most important factors being:

Good impression of the institution

      • “It has very good teachers that I am familiar with, it is near my house and also has the course that I want to do.”

The reputation of the school

      • “It had a great reputation in my desired field of study and was different from my undergraduate school.”

Whether it was close to home

      • “The university was relatively close to where I live and could attend part time at nights to get the degree I was looking for (MBA) and the price per credit hour was not too outrageous.”

How convenient attendance was

      • “It was in town here and I was working so it was convenient.”

Location in general

    • “Because of the location and the fact that it offered the degree that I was pursuing.”

Those who responded that they were currently applying to a postgraduate degree (11%) account for a small number (<3%)of adults.When asked what they would study, Business, Education, Nursing and Accounting were the most commonly mentioned fields, with the Arts close behind:

  • “Business health-care management.”
  • “Business or accounting.”
  • “Business Administration.”
  • “Psychology and/or nursing.”
  • “Political Science and Psychology.”
  • “Theater Education.”

A much larger number responded that they were at least currently evaluating a postgraduate program (41%), which is reflective of one out of ten adults. When asked why they were thinking about a postgraduate program the responses were mainly for three core reasons:

Better Job

      • “I would like to have higher pay and better benefits, if possible, without having to pay too much in order to attend a post-graduate program, and taking too much time away from my family.”

Furthering education

      • “To further my education. And to increase my knowledge.”

Earning more money

    • “As a means to an end, with the ideal being a more gratifying and better paying career.”

When asked to give further detail about the specifics of what they were looking for in their postgraduate program and the institution that provided it, the chief concerns were, in order of frequency:


      • “Online only, lowest cost per credit, school that takes and applies both undergraduate courses and work experience to course study.”


      • “One that is flexible with online classes and provides an education I can actually apply to a field of work.”


      • “Affordable tuition;, TA options; which schools people in my field recommend.”


This online survey had 1,000 respondents. It was fielded from February 6 to 7, 2019. For more, please check out the slides below and the general methodology.

Author Notes:

Jeffrey Henning

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Jeffrey Henning, IPC is a professionally certified researcher and has personally conducted over 1,400 survey research projects. Jeffrey is a member of the Insights Association and the American Association of Public Opinion Researchers. In 2012, he was the inaugural winner of the MRA’s Impact award, which “recognizes an industry professional, team or organization that has demonstrated tremendous vision, leadership, and innovation, within the past year, that has led to advances in the marketing research profession.” In 2022, the Insights Association named him an IPC Laureate. Before founding Researchscape in 2012, Jeffrey co-founded Perseus Development Corporation in 1993, which introduced the first web-survey software, and Vovici in 2006, which pioneered the enterprise-feedback management category. A 35-year veteran of the research industry, he began his career as an industry analyst for an Inc. 500 research firm.