What is the Value of a Bachelor's Degree?

Discover how much your bachelor's degree is actually worth.

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Most adults looking to go back to school are doing so to ensure steady employment in uncertain economic times and to increase their earnings.

Earning a bachelor’s degree does not guarantee that you will have steady employment, but it certainly may help your chances.

The College Board estimates that students who attend community college pay very little in tuition and fees after student aid and federal income tax benefits are factored in

In 2010, the national unemployment rate was 11 percent, but the rate for those with bachelor’s degrees was only 5 percent.

If you’ve completed an associate’s degree or certificate program and want to go further, the next step is to get your bachelor’s degree.

This degree is also helpful for people whose career requires them to get an advanced degree. You can’t enroll in a master’s, PhD or professional graduate program unless you have first completed a bachelor’s degree program.

Bachelor’s Degrees ROI

The return of investment (ROI) that you receive for earning a bachelor’s degree depends on may factors, notably your major and what school you attend.

If you are looking for the maximum return on your investment, consider first earning your associate’s degree at a community college and then transferring to a bachelor’s degree program at a public or private four-year college or university.

The College Board estimates that students who attend community college pay very little in tuition and fees after student aid and federal income tax benefits are factored in. This makes the community college-to-bachelor’s degree route particularly attractive if you are concerned about college costs.

Bachelor’s Degrees and Careers

Some occupations require a bachelor’s degree for entry-level employment.

For example, in all states, teachers must have at least a bachelor’s degree in education to obtain a license. The median wage for teachers is around $30,000.

Engineers, on the other hand, are often required to have at least a bachelor’s degree, but they have an annual median wage of $80,000.

Obviously, not all careers are created equal when it comes to earning. You’ll want to factor this in when you’re considering the cost of your degree program.

According to the American Community Survey (ACS), the most lucrative majors for someone getting a bachelor’s degree are:

Beyond their monetary return, bachelor’s degrees are shown to have positive effects on other aspects of graduates’ lives such as health. Statistically speaking, having a bachelor’s degree also make it more like you’ll get (and stay) married.

The Future of Bachelor’s Degrees

Bachelor’s degrees have become more common over the years. With about one-third of the population having a bachelor’s degree, having the degree alone does not guarantee employment. There will still be competition for tops jobs in well-paying or popular fields.

Some are predicting that the master’s degree may become the “new bachelor’s” – the degree that gives its holder value and leverage in the job market. In 2010, 36 percent of people who had earned bachelor’s degrees had also completed an advanced degree program.

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