The Cost Of More Accessible Higher Education: What Is The Monetary Value Of The Various Academic Degrees?

Nitza Davidovitch, Michael Byalsky, Dan Soen, Zilla Sinuany Stern

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


One of the main reasons for acquiring a Bachelor's Degree is the perception of higher education as a means of improving graduates' financial status. In light of the increased accessibility of higher education, a growing number of students hope to use their studies as a financial springboard. In the current study we sought to examine this perception and to check whether and to what degree baccalaureate degrees indeed improve graduates' financial situation. In cooperation with Israel's Central Bureau of Statistics we gathered data on 6,091 graduates who completed their studies at the Ariel University Center during 2000-2008. Data analysis included exploring graduates' rate of employment and monthly salary from the day they began their academic studies until eight years later. We divided and distinguished between graduates by discipline and gender. The findings show that graduates earn almost three times the national average salary (and five times the median salary) and indicate employment rates of nearly 100%. Analysis of findings by discipline indicates that the most profitable fields are computer sciences and mathematics, engineering, and architecture. Salaries in the natural and social sciences and in the humanities are significantly lower both compared to the former fields and to the national average salary, at least for this eight year span. Analysis of the data by sex showed that the rate of employment among men is 12% higher than among women and that there is a disparity in employment within each discipline as well. Research conclusions show that academic degrees per se are not a guarantee of financial or occupational security. Employees with degrees in the social sciences and the humanities may find that their pay is no higher than those with no degree. One of the implications of this issue, already evident at this stage is that students are attempting to attain higher degrees in the hope of improving their financial status. The equation of a higher education with a higher income seems to involve other components as well, such as graduates' field of study, seniority on the job, and field of occupation.
Original languageEnglish GB
Pages (from-to)37-58
Number of pages22
JournalContemporary Issues in Education Research (CIER)
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2013


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