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Graduate and Professional Studies

The Value of Higher Education

Obtaining an undergraduate or graduate degree is almost always worth the investment, as evidenced by higher annual earnings and total earnings over a lifetime. The higher the level of educational attainment, the higher the payoff.

What’s more, the gap is widening. In 2002, a Bachelor’s degree-holder could expect to earn 75 percent more over a lifetime than someone with only a high school diploma. Today, that premium is 84 percent. (Source: Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce)

Annual Earnings

In 2012, young adults with a bachelor’s degree earned 57% more ($16,900) per year than those with a high school diploma, and 32% more ($10,200) than those with an associate’s degree. (Source: National Center for Education Statistics)

In 2012, young adults with a master’s degree earned 27% more ($12,700) per year than those with a bachelor’s degree. (Source: National Center for Education Statistics)

 

 

Lifetime Earnings

On average:

  • A high school dropout can expect to earn $973,000 over a lifetime.
  • Someone with a high school diploma can expect to earn $1.3 million over a lifetime.
  • A worker with some college but no degree earns $1.5 million over a lifetime.
  • An Associate’s degree-holder earns $1.7 million over a lifetime.
  • A worker with a Bachelor’s degree will earn $2.3 million over a lifetime.
  • A Master’s degree-holder earns $2.7 million over a lifetime.

(Source: Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce)