While some people assume from the start that a college or university degree is worth it for them, others look at the cost and time versus the earnings one might gain from employment and the possibility of loans and question the benefits of another degree. This article looks at the value of a higher education.

Benefits of Higher Education for Understanding

As an undergraduate today, many students have the opportunity to do research and presentations in their field of choice, far more than in the past. Nevertheless, the opportunity to delve deeper into a field and attain a greater understanding. The experience of becoming expert in an area is a valuable asset in and of itself, aside from career opportunities.

Benefits of Higher Education for Certain Careers

If the field you want to work in requires a B.A. or higher degree, then one of the benefits of higher education becomes immediately clear. In this case, the degree is one of the basic things that enables you to get a job in the field of your choice.

There are a number of fields that require what's referred to as a terminal degree - the highest degree in the field. For careers in those areas, higher education is not just desirable: it's a requirement. For example, many university teaching positions require a terminal degree, which is usually a Ph.D. for most fields, an M.D. for medicine, J.D. in law, etc., but an M.A. in certain art fields, like creative writing and studio arts.

Benefits of Higher Education as an Investment in a Field

Often, a master's degree, in addition to other values it may have, is a step on the way to a Ph.D. in the field of the master's or a related field. Though some people go straight from a bachelor's degree into a Ph.D. program, an M.A. can be a useful stopping point for people who want to either spend some time working or switch to a neighboring field for their Ph.D.

Economic Benefits of Higher Education

A statistical analysis of people aged 25 and older in the work force, noting their highest level of education and their earnings in 2006 speaks to the economic benefits of higher education, clearly:

Schooling Completed

Median Earnings

No high school study


Some high school, but without graduation


High school graduation or GED


Some college, but without degree


Associate's Degree


Bachelor's Degree


Master's Degree


Doctor's Degree


Professional Degree


Not only does someone with a Master's Degree earn, on average, twice as much yearly as someone who has only completed high school, but even an Associate's Degree makes a significant boost to yearly income. Overall, all higher education degrees averaged out to median yearly earnings of $50,930.

Other Types of Benefits of Higher Education

Studies have shown other benefits of higher education in addition to these. College graduates were shown in a study by the Institute for Higher Education Policy conducted in 1998 to have higher amounts of savings, a larger number of hobbies, greater professional mobility, and the ability to make better decisions as consumers.

College also provides a time of transition for students, for many of whom it provides their first opportunity to live away from home but in a controlled environment. Within a dorm, required to go to classes, but not closely supervised, many students have their first opportunities to take on increased responsibility for not only the content of how they fill their days, but also for their healthcare and their financial situation. Making these transitions to responsible adulthood while, at the same time, furthering one's intellectual understanding, is arguably a valuable asset of a higher education.



The Independent: “How having a Masters degree may not guarantee success”: -  license.icopyright.net

US Department of Education: Digest of Education Statistics: “Table 372. Distribution of earnings and median earnings of persons 25 years old and over, by highest level of educational attainment and sex: 2006”: - nces.ed.gov