Which Country Has the Most College Graduates?

Russia has the highest percentage of college graduates in the world, with a little more than half of the Russian population holding an undergraduate degree or higher. Next are Canada, Israel and Japan, each of which have 40-50 percent of their population with undergraduate college degrees. The United States ranks 12th out of 36 industrialized nations in terms of college graduates, with less than 40 percent of the population holding any kind of higher education degree — ie., an associate's degree or higher.

More facts about higher education:

  • Almost 70 percent of U.S. high school graduates enroll in college, but less than half of the students who start an undergraduate degree ever finish it.
  • More than one-fourth of all U.S. college students require remedial classes in reading, writing and math in their first year of college.
  • Students from higher-income families are almost eight times more likely to earn a bachelor's degree by the time they're 24 than those from low-income families.
  • Several advantages will increase a student’s odds of getting into and graduating from college, such as having a support network and financial access to extra academic help, such as SAT math tutors or private college tutors.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which country has the highest number of college graduates?

As of the latest data, Canada stands out as the country with the highest proportion of college graduates. According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), about 56.27% of adults in Canada have attained at least an undergraduate degree. This high level of educational attainment reflects Canada's strong emphasis on higher education and its accessibility to a wide range of students.

How does the United States rank in terms of college graduates?

The United States has a significant number of college graduates, with approximately 46.4% of adults holding a higher education degree. While this places the U.S. among the top countries for educational attainment, it is not the leader. The U.S. continues to invest in its higher education system to improve access and increase graduation rates.

What factors contribute to a country having a high number of college graduates?

Several factors contribute to a country's high number of college graduates, including government investment in education, the availability of financial aid, the value placed on higher education by society, and the accessibility of tertiary institutions. Countries like Canada and South Korea, which have high percentages of college graduates, often have policies that support education, such as subsidized tuition fees and comprehensive scholarship programs.

Are there any notable trends in global higher education graduation rates?

Global higher education graduation rates have been on the rise over the past few decades. This trend is driven by the increasing recognition of the importance of higher education for economic success and personal development. Many countries are expanding their higher education systems and making them more accessible to accommodate this growing demand. Additionally, there is a growing trend of adults returning to education to upskill or reskill in response to changing job markets.

How do graduation rates affect a country's economy?

Higher graduation rates generally have a positive impact on a country's economy. A more educated workforce tends to be more productive, innovative, and adaptable to new technologies and economic changes. This can lead to higher wages, lower unemployment rates, and increased competitiveness in the global market. Countries with higher percentages of college graduates, like Canada and Japan, often enjoy robust economies with a high quality of life for their citizens.

More Info: completionagenda.collegeboard.org

Discussion Comments


So many are challenged to successfully complete free K-12. Free college is not sensible. People feel a sense of achievement when they pay for success.


Which country has the highest number of students after India?


Russia has the most college graduates because

they provide free education and it is really easy to finish a degree because of bribery. I have some Russian friends who admitted to me they got through high school and university just by paying money to the professors.


I think the problem is that college is too expensive. If it was cheaper, more people could go to college. It's as simple as that in my view. But I'm not sure how that would affect the overall economy.

I do think that education should not be run as a business or an industry though. Education is like a basic right. I hope we can get to a point where everyone has the opportunity to attend and finish college.

I know that the opportunity to attend college is there now, but only if students have families who can pay for it, or if they take out student loans.

What do you think? How can we improve these numbers? What are these countries doing differently than us?


I don't think that a high number of college graduates necessarily means that the nation is doing well in terms of wealth and quality of life.

Russia might have the highest number of college graduates in the world, but they don't have employment opportunities for all of those graduates. Frankly, what's the point of finishing school if you can't find a job and make money afterward?

I'm sure if we compared unemployment rates along with this information, we would see that the U.S. is ahead of these countries.


I did not realize that we were behind so many countries in this respect. I think the facts listed here show that there are serious problems with the educational system in the United States.

I had heard before that students in the U.S. were behind other nations when it comes to their academic abilities. But I did not realize that most students who are enrolled in college are unable to finish.

Have studies been done as to why so many students drop out?

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