January 2022

IZA DP No. 15010: The Effects of Advanced Degrees on the Wage Rates, Hours, Earnings and Job Satisfaction of Women and Men

This paper uses a college-by-graduate degree fixed effects estimator to evaluate the returns to 19 different graduate degrees for men and women. We find substantial variation across degrees, and evidence that OLS over-estimates the returns to degrees with the highest average earnings and underestimates the returns to degrees with the lowest average earnings. Second, we decompose the impacts on earnings into effects on wage rates and effects on hours. For most degrees, the earnings gains come from increased wage rates, though hours play an important role in some degrees, such as medicine, especially for women. Third, we estimate the net present value and internal rate of return for each degree, which account for the time and monetary costs of degrees. Finally, we provide descriptive evidence that satisfaction gains are large for some degrees with smaller economic returns, such as education and humanities degrees, especially for men.