Bachelor’s Degree: A Cost and Benefits Analysis

By James Collister on January 27th, 2009

Bachelor Degree Business WomanAs of 2003, 27% of U.S. adults had earned at least a bachelor’s degree within their cumulative education. The total number of bachelor’s degrees awarded jumped nearly 50% from 1992 to 2004. Meanwhile, the average cost of tuition has been rising faster than the rate of inflation. The most recent data show tuition alone at $21,235 per year at private universities, and $5,491 per year at public universities. Estimates fail to take into consideration the costs of room and board, books, time, and effort. Does the four year investment in a bachelor’s degree come with sufficient rewards?

Financial Rewards of a Bachelor’s Degree

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the highest-paying occupations in America demand at least a bachelor’s degree education for entrance into those industries. On average, a professional who has earned a bachelor’s degree earns $900 per week, whereas the worker with only a high school education earns only $554 per week. Going deeper into the data, that means the bachelor’s degree graduate earns 62% more than the high school graduate. Over a lifetime, this adds up to major differences in total earnings.

The Bachelor’s Degree at Work in the Job Market

In addition to higher earnings, bachelor’s degree graduates have lower unemployment rates and a wider variety of career options than workers without a college degree, according to the most recent data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The job market appears to be increasingly favorable towards workers with a college degree. Between 2002 and 2012, over 14 million job openings are predicted to be won by bachelor’s degree graduates or master’s degree graduates who are entering a profession for the first time.

Should Everyone Get a Bachelor’s Degree?

Although the data certainly sheds a favorable light on the prospect of earning a bachelor’s degree, there are additional factors to consider before jumping in head-first. Job prospects and earning power are also affected by the local job market, the type of bachelor’s degree earned, and the industry a worker is attempting to enter. The most lucrative and fastest-growing industries for bachelor’s degree holders are expected to be in business, computers and engineering, education, counseling, and healthcare. For some professions, an associate’s degree may be sufficient, whereas other professions may require a graduate degree to take advantage of new entry-level job openings.

How to Get Started Towards Earning a Bachelor’s Degree

For more information on job outlook by career and education level, prospective students can visit the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2006 – 2007. The number of subjects and avenues towards pursuing a bachelor’s degree are endless and include both campus and online bachelor’s degree programs. is another valuable source of information with an extensive list of available programs and education resources.

Category: Bachelors Degrees

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