Why First Generation Nigerian Migrants in the US are Highly Educated

Nigerian migrants in the US are often regarded as one of the most successful immigrant groups, especially in terms of educational attainment. According to the Migration Policy Institute, 29% of Nigerian-Americans over the age of 25 hold a graduate degree, compared to 11% of the overall US population. How did this happen, and what factors contribute to this remarkable achievement?

Historical Background

The first wave of Nigerian immigration to the US began in the 1920s, when Nigerians started attending American universities. This pattern largely held until the 1967-70 Nigerian civil war, when many chose not to return to their home country. The second wave occurred in the 1970s, when the Nigerian government sponsored thousands of students to study in the US, as a result of the oil boom and the high value placed on education. Many of these students also stayed in the US and became professionals in various fields.

Cultural Values

One of the main reasons why Nigerians are highly educated is their cultural values, which emphasize the importance of education and success. Nigerian parents often instill in their children the belief that education is the key to social mobility and economic security. They also encourage their children to pursue careers in prestigious and lucrative fields, such as medicine, law, engineering, and business. Nigerian immigrants often face high expectations from their families and communities, both in the US and in Nigeria, to excel academically and professionally.

Immigration Policies

Another factor that influences the educational attainment of Nigerians is the immigration policies of the US, which favor highly skilled and educated immigrants. Nigerians who migrate to the US often do so through family reunification, diversity lottery, or employment-based visas, which require certain levels of education and qualifications. Therefore, the Nigerian immigrant population in the US is largely self-selected and represents the cream of the crop of their home country. Moreover, many Nigerians who come to the US as students or workers often pursue further education to enhance their skills and credentials, or to overcome the barriers of credential recognition and discrimination in the labor market.


Nigerian migrants in the US are the most educated immigrant group, according to various sources and statistics. This is the result of a combination of historical, cultural, and immigration factors, which have shaped the Nigerian diaspora in the US. Nigerian immigrants have also contributed significantly to the US society and economy, through their achievements and innovations in various fields and sectors. They are a testament to the resilience, hard work, and productivity of Africans, and Nigerians in particular, in the face of challenges and opportunities.

Share This

Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *