Institutional Research and Academic Planning
Understanding the value of a UC degree
A report and executive summary culminating from a five-part series of topic briefs
Universities are under increasing pressure to demonstrate the value of higher education, given the cost of degree completion. Value is often measured in economic terms, such as earnings post-graduation; however, this presents a narrow picture. Non-economic outcomes, such as learning, occupational focus and civic impact, are often missing from the discussion.
Leveraging University of California (UC) data, state and national data sources, the UC Office of the President’s Institutional Research and Academic Planning (IRAP) department has developed a series of topic briefs that identify specific indicators, both economic and non-economic, along with indirect measures of student learning to more comprehensively demonstrate a college degree’s impact on students and on the broader public.
This webpage offers demonstrations of the value of a college degree beyond traditional measures, by exploring student outcomes in four key areas: public economic, personal economic, public well-being and personal well-being.
Full report (2021): Fiat Lux: What is the value of a UC degree? (full report) (pdf)
Executive summary (2021): Fiat Lux: What is the value of a UC degree? (executive summary) (pdf)
Five-part series of topic briefs (2017 - 2020)
Beyond economic impact: Understanding societal impacts and public value of a UC degree (pdf) (A discussion item at the March 18, 2021 Regents meeting.)
Understanding and Communicating the Public Value of a University Of California Degree and Contributions To California (pdf) (A discussion item at March 18, 2020 the Regents meeting.)