To hear the education establishment talking, you would think that the higher your level of “attainment,” the better off you’ll be. College beats high school and advanced degrees beat college. The more you “invest” in education, the more your return.
But it’s just not true. “Higher attainment” often has most cost than benefit. In today’s Martin Center article, writer Matthew Wilson looks at a recent study by Preston Cooper where he studied the return on investment of a large number of graduate programs. Naturally, some programs prove to be highly profitable, but many others have a negative yield.
Wilson focuses his article principally on schools in North Carolina. Some programs are very good investments. But, as he notes, others are poor:
UNC-Chapel Hill’s master’s degree in fine and studio arts, for instance, has a dismal median adjusted ROI of -$517,683, and North Carolina Central University’s MBA program has an ROI of -$313,159. Other examples include UNC-Greensboro’s master’s program in dance, which has a median lifetime ROI of -$355,835, and its degree in rhetoric, composition, and writing studies, which has an ROI of -$521,128. Duke operates several graduate programs with negative ROIs ― its master’s program in biology has a median adjusted ROI of -$447,995, its master’s degree in liberal arts has an ROI of -$366,391, and its master’s program in theological and ministerial studies has an ROI of -$285,145, to name a few examples.
Thinking of grad school? Evaluate your options carefully and do not assume that having another degree will make you better off.
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