Back to Blog The Long-Term ROI of a College Degree BlogUC Online News Share Share on FacebookFollow us on LinkedInShare on PinterestShare via Email Do College Degrees Still Pay Off? With changes in technology and a cultural shift in business, many Americans are wondering if earning a college degree is still worth the time and money. It’s a valid question. But while short-term financial returns are the predominant consideration for most potential students, it’s vital to investigate the long-term return on investment (ROI) of a college degree — especially since it will be impacting you for the rest of your life. Read on to learn more about degree ROIs, including average starting salaries, weekly income, and — most importantly — lifetime earnings. Graphed data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics highlighting the pay differences from master’s degree to less than a high school diploma. Additionally, we feel it is important to factor in the time it takes to pay back a student loan when considering ROI. Throughout this article, we have taken the average cost of a degree and the average increase in earnings to provide a rough estimate of how long it will take to pay for the degree. While there are complex variables to consider like interest rate, we’ve taken a straightforward approach of applying the increase in earnings directly to the loan amount to provide you with a baseline estimate of how long it will take to truly see the financial impact of your new degree. Associate Degree ROI An associate degree is an undergraduate degree typically lasting two years, or a minimum of 60 credits, with an average total cost of $21,000. Individuals with an associate degree earn, on average, 20 percent more than those with a high school diploma. With this increase in earnings, it would take about 3 years to repay your student loans. Average starting salary: $39,990 Median weekly earnings: $963.00 Lifetime earnings: $3.02 million At UC Online, we offer more than 15 associate degree programs. We’ve included a sampling below to show the variety of opportunities and graduate salary ranges. Associate of Applied Science in Early Childhood Care & Education Prepares students to provide high-quality educational experiences for all children. Average salary range: $30,000 – $50,000 Associate of Applied Science in Health Information Systems Prepares students to maintain and manage electronic health records. Average salary range: $40,000 – $55,000 Associate of Applied Business in Business Management Technology Prepares students to advance into an entry-level supervisory or management position. Average salary range: $40,000 – $65,000 Bachelor’s Degree ROI A bachelor’s degree or baccalaureate is an undergraduate degree typically lasting four years, or a minimum of 120 credits, with an average total cost of $67,000. Between an associate degree and a bachelor’s degree, there is a 39.0 percent increase in earnings. Depending on your loan amount, this increase in earnings could be used to cut down the repayment time of this degree to six-seven years. Average starting salary: $50,600 Median weekly earnings: $1334.00 Lifetime earnings: $3.82 million To show the variety in our twenty-plus bachelor’s degree programs, we’ve included a selection of degrees to highlight your true earning potential. Bachelor of Social Work Prepares students to launch careers as community social workers. Average salary range: $50,000 – $60,000 Bachelor of Science in Medical Laboratory Science Prepares students for the medical laboratory science board certification. Average salary range: $60,000 – $90,000 Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice Prepares students to become leaders in criminal justice settings, policy reform, and law enforcement. Average salary range: $60,000 – $100,000 Master’s Degree ROI A master’s degree is a postgraduate degree typically lasting two years, or a minimum of 30-60 credits, with an average total cost of $48,000. Individuals with a master’s degree earn upwards of 38 percent more than those with a bachelor’s degree and a master’s — a difference that can help cut down the repayment time of this degree to 3-4 years. Average starting salary: $70,240 Median weekly earnings: $1574.00 Lifetime earnings: $5.30 million With more than thirty-five master’s degree programs — including the three highlighted below — UC Online has the degree you need to advance your career. Master of Science in Cosmetic Science Prepares students to develop, formulate, and assess the safety and quality of new products for human use. Average salary range: $60,000 – $85,000 Master of Education in Foundations in Behavior Analysis Prepares students to serve individuals with behavioral and learning challenges across multiple settings. Average salary range: $70,000 – $100,000 Master of Business Administration Prepares students with the skills necessary to tackle today’s business challenges. Average salary range: $90,000 – $120,000 UC Online’s Degrees Whether you’re looking to pursue your undergraduate or graduate degree, the University of Cincinnati Online has a proven track record of providing the best value — and not just financial value. In fact, over 80% of students believe the UC Online program has helped them advance and be productive in their career.** Our programs are led by nationally recognized faculty and offer the same community that the traditional classroom experience provides. Plus, with both full- and part-time options, you can pursue your degree on your schedule and finish it when you want. So — Is College Worth the Cost? In recent years, there’s been more and more discussion of whether college is worth the cost, but, despite the ongoing debate, research shows that degrees still pay off, especially in the long run. And remember: there are other factors that go into determining the value of higher education, including emotional well-being, quality of life, job placement, and strong alumni networks — all of which UC Online offers in abundance. So — are you ready to learn more? Explore our online programs to discover how you can achieve your goals with a degree from the University of Cincinnati Online; or take the first step in advancing your career by beginning your application today. *All salary data sourced from ZipRecruiter, Glassdoor, and U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics **UC Online Student Lifecycle Post Degree research, November 2022. Research conducted by Escalent.