AALS/LSAC/Gallup Survey: Parental Education a Key Factor in Considering Grad School

Press Release
Jim Greif
[email protected]
(202) 296-1593


AALS/LSAC/Gallup Survey: Parental Education a
Key Factor in Considering Grad School


College students are more likely to consider graduate or professional school if at least one parent has an advanced degree


Washington, D.C. (October 23, 2018) – Undergraduates considering graduate or professional school are more likely to have at least one parent with an advanced degree compared with peers who are not considering graduate school according to Beyond the Bachelor’s: Undergraduate Perspectives on Graduate and Professional Degrees, a new report based on a survey by Gallup for the Association of American Law Schools (AALS) and the Law School Admission Council (LSAC).

The survey found that 41 percent of students considering graduate or professional education have at least one parent with an advanced degree compared to 33 percent whose parents hold a bachelor’s degree and 26 percent whose parents do not hold a four-year degree.

According to the report, students whose parents do not hold a bachelor’s degree were the least likely to report seeing or receiving information on campus about graduate or professional degrees.

The connection between parental education and college enrollment has been widely recognized in higher education. U.S. Census data report only 12 percent of individuals age 45 to 64 (typical age range of parents of college students) have an advanced degree. According to the most recently available data from the National Center for Education Statistics, about one-third of college students nationwide are the first in their family to attend college. In this context, data from Beyond the Bachelor’s shows the already narrow pool of first-generation college students considering graduate and professional school face additional barriers depending on a variety of factors.

The report concludes, “…To encourage more first-generation students to pursue advanced degrees, colleges and universities need to do more to assure that information equitably reaches all undergraduates. …This [report] will enable graduate and professional schools to provide more relevant information to prospective students and, where appropriate, to revise their curricula to better meet the goals of incoming students.”

More than 22,000 college students completed the survey which captured information on their career aspirations, sources of information and advice, and academic backgrounds. The report also explores demographic differences in survey respondents by gender, parental education, race/ethnicity, and academic achievement.

Additional findings from the report:

“The future of graduate education is being built on data, and this study provides a wealth of information based on a very large sample size. We are proud to sponsor Beyond the Bachelor’s as an important addition to the continuum of data we provide to benefit higher education and legal education,” said Kellye Testy, President and CEO of LSAC.

The report also includes information on the most popular degrees among students likely to attend graduate or professional school with sixty-three percent likely to pursue a master’s in arts or science (MA/MS). A PhD (34 percent), MBA (23 percent), JD (15 percent) and MD (14 percent) are the next most popular degrees.

Additional highlights from the report and ordering information can be found at www.aals.org/research.

The report follows September’s release of Before the JD: Undergraduate Views on Law School, which focuses on college students’ perspectives on legal education using data from the same survey.

About Beyond the Bachelor’s
Beyond the Bachelor’s is the second report using data from the Before the JD project—a study based on a national survey conducted by Gallup for the Association of American Law Schools AALS to understand student views on law school and other graduate and professional degrees. The project was sponsored by the ABA Section on Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar, the AccessLex Institute, the American Bar Foundation, the Law School Admission Council (LSAC), and the National Association for Law Placement (NALP). Fourteen major law firms and four corporate counsel offices provided additional support. The survey produced responses from 22,189 undergraduates at 25 four-year institutions whose students are likely to go on to graduate and professional schools.

About AALS
The Association of American Law Schools (AALS), founded in 1900, is a nonprofit association of 179 member and 18 fee-paid law schools. Its members enroll most of the nation’s law students and produce the majority of the country’s lawyers and judges, as well as many of its lawmakers. The mission of AALS is to uphold and advance excellence in legal education. In support of this mission, AALS promotes the core values of excellence in teaching and scholarship, academic freedom, and diversity, including diversity of backgrounds and viewpoints, while seeking to improve the legal profession, to foster justice, and to serve its many communities—local, national and international.

About LSAC
Law School Admission Council (LSAC) is a nonprofit organization devoted to furthering quality, access, and equity in law and education worldwide by supporting individuals’ enrollment journeys and providing pre-eminent assessment, data, and technology services. Annually, LSAC helps over 60,000 law school candidates navigate the admission process, administers the LSAT to 100,000 worldwide test takers, provides the essential admission software and data relied upon by over 220 member law schools, presents dozens of national forums to help candidates and law schools connect, and supports the nation’s prelaw network. The LSAT is the premier standardized test of critical reasoning skills that are fundamental for success in law school and in a wide range of careers. LSAC also works actively to increase diversity in the legal profession and to promote public understanding of law as part of its focus on building a strong justice pipeline.

About Gallup
Gallup delivers analytics and advice to help leaders and organizations solve their most pressing problems. Combining more than 80 years of experience with its global reach, Gallup knows more about the attitudes and behaviors of employees, customers, students and citizens than any other organization in the world.