Higher Education Pays: The Initial Earnings of Graduates of Texas Colleges and Universities Who Are Working in Texas

Mark S. Schneider

The results of a recent study in Texas suggest that the degree a student earns matters, but that there are important variations in returns by program and by institution. Higher Education Pays: The Initial Earnings of Graduates of Texas Public Colleges and Universities was prepared by College Measures, a joint venture of AIR and the Matrix Knowledge Group, and details the first-year earnings of recent graduates from two- and four-year public institutions who are working across the state one year after obtaining their degree or certificate.

Graphic: First Year Earnings in Texas

Among the findings:

  • On average, a year after graduation, students with two-year technical degrees have first-year median earnings of more than $50,000, just over $11,000 more than graduates of bachelor’s degree programs across the state.
  • Graduates with these two-year technical degrees earn, on average, about $30,000 more than students who completed academically oriented two-year degrees and are now in the labor force.
  • The first-year earnings of graduates from different community colleges vary widely.
  • Certificates are one of the fastest-growing credentials offered by community colleges. The median first-year earnings of certificate holders often exceed those of graduates from academic and technical associate’s programs.
  • The median first-year earnings of bachelor’s degree recipients statewide are around $39,000. However, there is a wide range in earnings, depending upon field of study.
  • Master’s degree graduates earn more—often far more—than students with a bachelor’s degree.