Browse > Home / Education / US data shows shorter degrees lead to similar earnings to those of bachelor’s

| Subscribe via RSS

US data shows shorter degrees lead to similar earnings to those of bachelor’s

November 27th, 2013 Posted in Education

College Measures, which produces state-by-state college performance data, has released a report of key takeaways about the earnings of college graduates in five states. Associate degrees and certificates often hold their own in the job market relative to bachelor’s degrees, the report found. It also said the value of credentials in STEM fields are sometimes oversold by policy makers. And the discipline in which students earned a credential influences their wages more than which college they attended. College Measures, which is a joint venture of the American Institutes for Research and Matrix Knowledge Group, created the study based on data from Arkansas, Colorado, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.

Higher Education Pays: But a Lot More for Some Graduates Than for Others

Higher education is one of the most important investments that people make, and most students make this investment because they want a better chance to land a good career and higher earnings. But as they enter the labor market, some graduates earn far more than others. Prospective students need sound information about where their educational choices are likely to lead.

  • Some short-term, higher education credentials are worth as much as long-term ones. Short-term (or “subbaccalaureate”) credentials include associate’s degrees and occupationally oriented certificates, and many who hold them will out-earn graduates with bachelor’s degrees.
  • Where you study affects earnings—but less than usually thought. Earnings vary widely among first-year graduates in different states. Further, each state has schools whose graduates fall far below their peers in terms of earnings, and, conversely, each state hosts institutions whose graduates outperform their peers from other schools.

Infographic: Some technical associate’s degrees pay more than bachelor’s

  • What you study matters more than where you study. The labor market rewards technical and occupational skills at the associate’s, bachelor’s, and master’s level. Graduates with bachelor’s degrees in music, photography, philosophy, and other liberal arts almost always earn the least among the major fields of study. Graduates with engineering degrees earned the most in every state. Graduates with degrees in health-related fields, especially nursing, are among the highest paid and are usually followed by graduates with business degrees.
  • The S in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) is oversold. Data from College Measures show that employers are paying more—often far more—for degrees in the fields of technology, engineering, and mathematics (TEM). Evidence does not suggest that graduates with degrees in Biology earn a wage premium—in fact, they often earn less than English majors.

STEM or TEM infographic

Full Report

September 3, 2013

Inside Higher Ed

Leave a Reply