Post-secondary education pays: StatsCan

Largest difference in earnings was between bachelor’s and master’s degrees


A new study suggests it pays to go to school.

The Statistics Canada survey found that more than 80 per cent of college and university students who graduated in 2005 and did not pursue further studies had found full-time employment by 2007, while earnings generally increased by level of study.

A higher proportion of graduates with a master’s degree were working full time than college graduates or those with a bachelor’s degree or a doctorate.

The pool of graduates with a master’s was higher in 2005 than it was in 2000 for both men and women.

However, the employment rate among master’s graduates remained stable for men at 94 per cent, while it rose for women, to 92 per cent in 2007 from 89 per cent in 2002.

Findings also showed differences in earnings from one level of education to another, with the largest earnings gap existing between the bachelor’s and master’s levels.

The agency says the earnings gap between a master’s and doctorate suggests that the monetary gain from employment two years after graduation for doctorate students is marginal.

About half the 2005 graduates who did not pursue further education financed their post-secondary studies without taking on any education-related loans. Nearly half (46 per cent) of all 2005 bachelor’s graduates completed their studies debt-free, as did 56 per cent of doctorates, 55 per cent of college grads and 54 per cent of those with a master’s.

While relatively similar proportions of college, bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate graduates were able to find work two years after graduation, there were differences in terms of their earnings.

The median annual earnings among those working full time in 2007 was lowest for college graduates at $35,000. This increased to $45,000 for bachelor’s graduates, $60,000 for master’s graduates and $65,000 for doctorate graduates.

– The Canadian Press


Post-secondary education pays: StatsCan

  1. I never believe these kinds of studies. At my graduation they made us fill in a questionnaire and the question was “Do you have a job?” and yes, I did – but it had nothing to do with my degree and was in fact a student job… BUT you just know they use that with their stats to say “n% had a job out of our University”.

    I have had many jobs between getting my degree in 2005 and now, and the only one that required or cared about my degree is my job that I have currently (but doesn’t have anything really to do with my degree) – but it is just a contract gig that will be up soon. Then I’m unemployed again.

  2. I agree to a point with Michelle. The methodology to these studies is very suspect, at times.

    I also think this “good news” spin is hilarious sometimes. The biggest gap in earnings is between undergraduate and graduate degrees, eh? So in order to avoid unemployment, it’s best to be sure you don’t end up with “only” four years of university education. And then we can conclude that post-secondary education pays!

    Horseshit. When people say “post-secondary education” they mean just that. They don’t mean post-post-secondary education. If anyone doubts the erosion of the value of a bachelor’s degree this is strong evidence in favor of it. I’m sure that not long ago the biggest gap in earnings was between a high school graduate and a university graduate. Now it’s simply moving up the ladder.

    That isn’t to say I advocate against university education, or an expansion of access. But I do think we need to be honest about what’s going on, and stop white-washing the picture with rosy and unreasonable conclusions.

  3. re: “The methodology to these studies is very suspect”.

    Is there something particularly suspect about the method and/or methodology utilized for this study?

  4. @Dale – I don’t know much about this study in particular, but employment rates among graduates is indeed a very muddy concept as Michelle says, and very rarely tries to capture the concept of relevant employment or employment in ones field. Also, studies of this nature are skewed by self-reporting. People are far more inclined to share good news stories rather than bad news, and it’s simply easier to reach graduates who are stable in their lives and their employment because they stay at the same addresses. To use an extreme example, I’m sure there’s a least a small minority who are homeless at the point this survey captures. What do you think the odds are that any are replying?

    Anyway, that was all. Nothing revolutionary. But it’s always been a problem with statistical data that it looks more legit than it deserves to, because all of these questions about methodology are hidden behind the headlines.

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  8. Folks that complain about post-Uni unemployment are crazy. It takes time to find a job – but employment rates are over 95%!

    Also Michelle’s comment about having a job vs having a job that requires a degree … the Ontario University Graduate Survey consistently shows that 83.5% of respondents working full time considered their work “closely” or “somewhat” related to their university education. http://www.cou.on.ca/content/objects/Grad%20Survey%202004-2005.pdf


  9. It’s common knowledge that the earnings listed can’t be totally trusted. I’m wondering what industry those numbers are based on.

    I do think a Masters degree will earn you a higher income in specific fields/careers. A lot of people make the mistake taking a Masters and expecting a higher income. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that. For some people it will earn them a an 10-20G per year. For others, it will make you more competitive than those with a bachelor.

    I’ll probably end up taking applying for a Masters this year. I waited and worked a couple of years in my field to ensure that a Masters degree would make me more competitive.

    Okay article I guess. But you can’t trust surveys and statistics. I’d love to know the sample size used. The usual 100 people represents the world. hmm…

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