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When a Graduate Degree Just Isn't Worth it

"While the college you go to does matter to some extent, the reality is that with earnings, what really matters is what you study"
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Photographer: jwhor/Flickr

College graduates stuck with a ho-hum job might think going to graduate school will get them an instant salary bump. They'd be wrong. Across nearly every field, bachelor's degree holders with at least three years in the workforce out-earn people freshly out of graduate school, a new report (PDF) shows. 

The report, released on Thursday, Feb. 19, by Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce, analyzed census data from 2009 to 2012 and found that work experience—in some cases even more than a degree—wields a major impact on what people earn. For most majors, being an experienced bachelor's degree holder—defined as having at least three years of experience—gave workers a bigger advantage over high-school graduates than would holding a graduate degree with no additional experience.