Graduates’ First-Year Earnings and Debt Vary by Degree Program and Educational Attainment

November 6, 2020

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Title: Buyer Beware: First-Year Earnings and Debt for 37,000 College Majors at 4,400 Institutions

Authors: Anthony P. Carnevale, Ban Cheah, Martin Van Der Werf, Artem Gulish

Source: Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce

Researchers at the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce examined earnings and federal student loan debt across 37,000 college majors in 4,400 colleges.

Their findings reiterate differences in first-year earnings and debt amounts across programs, institutions, and education levels, with three key takeaways:

  1. Higher levels of educational attainment usually results in higher earnings.
  2. Those with advanced degrees do not necessarily have higher federal student loan payments.
  3. Earnings and federal student loan payments collectively indicate the affordability of postsecondary programs.

With these trends in mind, the authors assert meaningful differences in earnings and debt across areas of study. In one example, they note those with associate degrees in nursing from California’s Santa Rosa Junior College had higher first-year earnings ($89,700) than students from some graduate programs.

The report is accompanied by an interactive table, which enables readers to find monthly first-year earnings and federal student loan debt across colleges and degree programs.

Click here to read the report.

—Anna Marie Ramos

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