The Economic Benefit of Postsecondary Degrees

President Obama, philanthropic and policy organizations, and states have set bold goals essentially to double the number of postsecondary degrees and certificates produced in the next 8 to 13 years. Behind this commitment to increased attainment is a value proposition for policymakers and the general public that achieving these goals will lead to social and economic benefits for individuals, states, and the nation. While the relationship between education and income is strong, incomes vary significantly among the types of degrees by level and discipline and within each state. It is beneficial for policymakers to understand market conditions as they make investments in higher education.

Under the State Policy Resource Center (SPRC), SHEEO releases the Economic Benefit of Postsecondary Degrees: A State and National Level Analysis.  This report adds to the dialogue about the value of a college degree in three important ways. First, on a national level it examines trends in degree production in terms of the median income associated with different degrees. Second, this report provides state-level data on the wage premiums associated with degree attainment across seven broad discipline categories, in effect, taking the national-level analyses down to the state level. Finally, the report provides degree production data from 2010 and the five-year growth from 2005 for each of the seven discipline categories allowing states to compare improvements in degree production to those fields that lead to higher incomes for graduates.

View The Economic Benefit of Postsecondary Degrees Final Report

View Press Release for The Economic Benefit of Postsecondary Degrees


Supplemental Documents (we recommend printing in color)


Publication Date: 
Tuesday, December 18, 2012
Katie Zaback, Andy Carlson, Matt Crellin