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Which associate degrees give students a bargain?

Which associate degrees give students a bargain?

Education Dive

Natalie Schwartz
October 14, 2020
Dive Brief:
  • Some associate-level programs have similar or better returns on investment than more advanced degrees in other fields one year after graduation, according to a new report from Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce (CEW).
  • The report points to some nursing and STEM degrees, in particular, as having high value for associate degree holders. Programs in-demand locally can also yield large returns, the report’s lead author said.
  • The analysis is based on program-level data from the College Scorecard, an online tool from the U.S. Department of Education. Researchers say having this data accessible could increase accountability among colleges.
Dive Insight:
The Education Department revamped the College Scorecard last year to include program-level data, such as student debt levels and earnings, following an executive order asking the agency to expand the online tool.
The data reveals that first-year earnings can vary widely within degree levels. About one-fifth of associate-degree holders earned a median of $24,000 or less one year after graduating, but 15% earned up to $48,000 and 10% earned up to $96,000.


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