Purdue University students by and large will experience a greater return on investment when it comes to undergraduate degrees than IU students.
According to a May 2011 study by the Center on Education and the Workforce, eight of the top 10 majors with the highest median earnings fall within the sphere of engineering. 21 percent of all Purdue students pursue degrees within that field.
Return on investment is essentially a way to quantify the phrase, “bang for your buck.”
The College Board’s latest figures approximate the average in-state IU student, without any financial assistance or scholarship, will spend about $80,264 on tuition and fees to complete a four-year undergraduate degree.
Return on investment will take that amount into consideration and compare it to what a student can potentially earn at a job that degree can get him.
In general, the higher a degree-holder’s earnings, the greater his return on investment.
This can be affected by the trade-off between cost and value of a degree. A degree from Harvard Business School will appeal to employers, but tuition to Harvard University typically costs significantly more than tuition to IU.
“Not all Bachelor’s degrees are the same,” according to the CEW report. “Earnings are a function not only of which degree you have, but also what you have majored in.”
According to U.S. News and World Report, 20 percent of IU students choose to pursue degrees in business, management, marketing and related fields.
In general, the median annual salary of all business degree-holders is roughly $60,000, according to the Center on Education and the Workforce.
According to data from the 2012 Undergraduate Career Services Annual Report, Kelley degree-holders tend to make just short of that when first starting out, enjoying a median starting salary of about $55,000.
It would take an in-state Kelley School of Business graduate making $60,000, the national median, about 1.34 years – without taking other expenses into consideration – to pay off his undergraduate education.
Despite the high earning potential in the business field, U.S. News and World Report reports a degree in economics can be just as good if not better.
“A lot of people talk about majoring in business ... actually, economics is even better,
because you learn a lot more quantitative analysis, a lot more statistics, and things that are applicable in kind of this big data world,” Katie Bardaro, an economist for online salary database PayScale, said in an interview with U.S. News and World Report. “Similar to physics, it’s really good for salary growth overall.”
Aside from degrees in engineering, degrees in computer science top the Center on Education and the Workforce’s list of highest earning majors with a median annual salary of $98,000.
Degrees that develop analytical skills tend to lead to jobs with a “strong earning potential and low unemployment rate,” Bardaro said. “Not everyone is cut out for the analytical stuff,” she said. “If you are one of those people, you’re lucky, because people want to hire you.”
The average starting salary for 2012 graduates of the School of Informatics and Computing was $54,000.
Representatives from Kelley and the School of Informatics and Computing could not be reached for comment.
U.S. News and World Report reported that not all is lost for students obtaining degrees in the humanities and social sciences, and the ability to work across different industries boost return on investment.
Other popular majors at IU, according to U.S. News and World Report, include degrees in communication, journalism, parks, leisure and fitness and education.
Based on a PayScale report published September 2012, the majority of IU-Bloomington alumni with an undergraduate degree in journalism earned between $28,992 and $108,194 annually. The report listed the 10th and 90th percentile for select IU degrees.
The majority of IU alumni with a degree in telecommunications earned between $31,270 and $80,000. Those with degrees in communication earned between $28,590 and $123,376.
Data was not available for degrees in parks, education and leisure and fitness.
Second concentrations, minors and certificates also add value to a degree, according to U.S. News and World Report.
“Research what skills are most valuable in the labor market … and depending on those ‘hot skills’ you can also obtain a certificate that will provide you skills that will set you apart,” Center on Education and the Workforce Communications Director Andrea Porter said.