What is the ROI of graduate school?

What is the return on investment or ROI of graduate school? Is the long-term payoff worth the initial cost? Do you have the time, energy and resources to advance your education? These are all great questions to ask as you weigh the pros and cons of continuing your education.

ROI of graduate school—the numbers

Founding father Benjamin Franklin is well-known for saying: “A penny saved is a penny earned.” While that may be true, when it comes to pursuing advanced education, maybe we should focus on his less famous quote: “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”

From a simple numbers standpoint, you can determine the ROI of a particular degree by comparing the cost of additional education (tuition, books, potential debt or lost salary) to the expected increase in salary (both yearly and compounded over time.) The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has some great information and tools in its Occupational Outlook Handbook to help you pinpoint the pay, growth rate and career outlook for a vast array of careers. 

ROI of graduate school—higher salary

Salary and benefits vary based on many factors including skill level, geographical location and career field. However, 2019 data from the BLS clearly shows that the more advanced degree a person earns, the more likely their earnings will increase and their unemployment rates will decrease.
Read: Education leads to higher wages, lower unemployment

According to BLS data, the median weekly earnings for a person with a master’s degree is $1,497, compared to $1,248 for a bachelor’s degree and just $746 for a high school diploma. That’s a $249 and $751 weekly difference, respectively. Over the course of a 52-week year, that adds up to a $12,948 annual earnings increase from a bachelor’s degree and $39,052 from a high school education. Not a guarantee, but typically the financial benefit of earning a graduate degree quickly outpaces the initial expense.

Additional career options

Advanced education, from an MBA to an MAEd, can open up new possibilities in the field in which a person is already employed or can completely change a person’s career trajectory. Consider: Do you enjoy your job? Do you want to take on more responsibility? Do you want to manage people and determine budgets? Will earning a graduate degree help you reach these goals?

—Personal satisfaction

Remember the ROI of graduate school does not have to be only financial. Maybe you enjoy learning and have the time and money to continue your education. Maybe it has always been a personal goal to earn a master’s degree or even a doctorate? Maybe, you just really want additional letters (MBA, BSN, MPH to name a few) behind your name. Personal satisfaction and a love for learning can be reason enough to go back to school.

At Bluffton…

Working adults can complete their degree in accounting, business management and RN to BSN; or earn an MBA, MAOM (Master of Business Administration, Master of Arts in Organizational Management) or MAEd (Master of Arts in Education). Bluffton’s graduate programs were recently recognized by “Ohio Business” magazine’s Best in Ohio Business Awards for Best Graduate School Program.

Written by Tricia Bell, content manager