Last updateMon, 26 Aug 2019 4am

Degree Worth

What's Your Degree Worth?

Whether you're an entering freshman or a continuing ed student, here's how the degree you earn can affect your professional future.

College graduates make about $20,000 more than high school graduates, according to research from Sandy Baum, a professor emerita of economics at Skidmore College. That's an additional $300,000 in earnings over a lifetime, which is much less than the $1 million purse reported recently by institutions like Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce (GUCEW). Still, a college degree is one of the best investments you could ever make. Graduates with a bachelor's degree average $51,000 a year, says Baum. Those who receive M.B.A.'s or other professional credentials can expect to earn $100,000 a year on average. The type of degree also matters, says Jeff Strohl, research director at GUCEW and coauthor of the 2012 report Hard Times: Not All College Degrees Are Created Equal. Education, health and business fields have the lowest unemployment rate, while students pursuing architecture and the humanities face challenges. To determine which degree best suits you, consider the factors listed below. They will help you calculate the real value of your investment.

Used with permission from Essence Magazine.

Sources: national center for education statistics and U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics. *Tuition cost is based on the total number of years it takes to earn your degree. **Work–life earnings for full-time employees in millions. †This number includes those who have some college education.