Monday, December 31, 2012

The Economic Value of Postsecondary Education

A recently released study by the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems analyzes the economic benefit of postsecondary degrees (as measured by wage premiums), and their findings emphasize the value of higher education. The study covers national, as well as state-level, degree field, and associated earnings trends.

Oregon public colleges and universities awarded just over 26,000 associate, bachelor's, and graduate degrees over the 2009-2010 school year (excluding one- or two-year certificates). The majority of total degrees awarded were in arts and humanities, although it had the second-lowest earning potential across the major degree fields.

The study provides median income data for Oregon by degree field and award level. This allows for calculation of the college wage premium, or percentage increase in wages between those with a high school diploma and those with a bachelor's degree. Across all fields, bachelor's degree holders earned about 67 percent more than those with a high school diploma over the 2006-2010 period. Nationally, this value comes out to 71 percent.

Among other factors, these premiums are a function of supply and demand, as well as the educational requirements within a given field. Those fields that are in the highest demand and are most likely to require a college degree -- health and STEM -- therefore have the highest wage increases.

You can find more information by accessing the full report. The Oregonian also published a summary of the study that includes other related details.

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