Humanities Indicators
Facebook Twitter YouTube
Public Life  >  Humanistic Skills and Practices
 
Adult Continuing Education

In an increasingly knowledge-based economy, the value of continuing education even after college continues to grow. Data from the 2000s show the humanities attracting a rising number of adult students interested in this area of knowledge.

Findings and Trends

  • Survey findings indicate that from 2001 to 2005 a small but growing percentage of adults pursued continuing education in the humanities (Indicator V-6a). In 2001, 1% of the American population over the age of 16, approximately 2 million people, had taken at least one humanities course for personal interest or development in the previous 12 months. By 2005, the proportion had risen to 1.5%, or approximately 3.3 million people.
  • In both 2001 and 2005, adult education students in the humanities tended to be young, with approximately 50% of all such students having been between the ages of 16 and 34 (Indicator V-6b). However, the character of the age distribution changed considerably over the four-year period. Whereas in 2001 those in the youngest age category (16–24) were by far the most numerous, comprising over 35% of the humanities course takers, in 2005 those course takers were spread somewhat more evenly across the age categories. Another striking difference between the two time points is the substantially higher proportion of course takers in 2005 who were ages 55–64, their proportion having increased from 5% to 14.5% of all adult education course takers in the humanities.
  • Adult education students were somewhat more likely to be women than men (Indicator V-6c). In 2001, 56% of those taking such classes were female, though by 2005 the gender gap was less pronounced, with women constituting 52.8% of course takers.
V-6a: Percentage of American Population 16 Years and Older Taking a Course in the Humanities for Personal Interest or Development, 2001 and 2005*

* Sample excluded persons who were enrolled in grade 12 or below. Classes in “Liberal Arts/General Education,” “English,” “Foreign Language,” and “Religion/Philosophy” were counted as humanities courses. Courses are those not taken as part of a formal degree or certificate program, although college credit may have been earned.

Source: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics, Adult Education and Life-Long Learning (2001) and Adult Education (2005) Surveys.

About this DataRelated Indicators
../cmsData/xls/V-6a.xls../cmsData/ppt/V-6a.ppt../cmsData/pdf/V-6a.pdf
V-6b: Age Distribution of Americans Who Took an Adult Education Course in the Humanities during the Previous Year, 2001 and 2005*

* Sample excluded persons who were enrolled in grade 12 or below. Classes in “Liberal Arts/General Education,” “English,” “Foreign Language,” and “Religion/Philosophy” were counted as humanities courses. Courses are those not taken as part of a formal degree or certificate program, although college credit may have been earned.

Source: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics, Adult Education and Life-Long Learning (2001) and Adult Education (2005) Surveys.

About this DataRelated Indicators
../cmsData/xls/V-6b.xls../cmsData/ppt/V-6b.ppt../cmsData/pdf/V-6b.pdf
V-6c: Gender Distribution of Americans Who Took an Adult Education Course in the Humanities in the Past Year, 2001 and 2005*

* Sample excluded persons who were enrolled in grade 12 or below. Classes in “Liberal Arts/General Education,” “English,” “Foreign Language,” and “Religion/Philosophy” were counted as humanities courses. Courses are those not taken as part of a formal degree or certificate program, although college credit may have been earned.

Source: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics, Adult Education and Life-Long Learning (2001) and Adult Education (2005) Surveys.

About this DataRelated Indicators
../cmsData/xls/V-6c.xls