A new report from the State Higher Education Executive Officers offers further evidence of the value of a college degree in terms of future earnings potential. The report, “The Economic Benefit of Postsecondary Degrees: A State and National Level Analysis,” concludes that, despite substantial variations across states and disciplines, “postsecondary-degree attainment clearly results in higher earnings for the vast majority of individuals in all 50 states.” It also found that “almost without exception, each successive level of higher-educational attainment yields additional economic benefits.”
Based on an analysis of census and education statistics, the report says Americans who complete a bachelor’s degree have a median income of $50,360, compared with a median of $29,423 for people with only a high-school diploma. Those with an associate degree earn some $9,000 more than those with only a high-school diploma. Those with a graduate degree have a median income of $68,064, about one-third more than those with a bachelor’s degree.
The report also provides national and state-level data on the wage premiums associated with degree attainment across seven broad discipline categories: arts and humanities; business and communications; education; social and behavioral sciences; the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics); health; and trades.
Its findings mirror those of recent studies by the U.S. Treasury Department and the U.S. Census Bureau, as well as a series of reports from Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce on topics including the relationship between college major and earnings, college major and unemployment, and occupation and earnings.Return to Top