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Capstone Projects

Is a Degree From a Four-Year College Worth It? Does Degree Attainment Contribute to a Successful Labor Market?

Program: Data Science Master's
Location: Not Specified (remote)
Student: Benjamin Maskell

There’s a lot of criticism out there right now of how well 4-year degrees prepare graduates for the labor market. A degree was always believed to be a ticket to the middle class, but is that actually true? And if it’s not, are institutions who are accredited to issue degrees responsible for the labor market outcomes of their graduates? The purpose of my proposed project is to answer this question by looking for evidence of a “lack of preparation” for the labor market, or of a faulty value proposition (i.e., a degree being a ticket the middle class).  

My plan is to build a data set that covers (1) the factors of the outcome of graduating with a bachelor’s degree and (2) the factors of a labor market outcome. From there I will perform hypothesis tests and build a model to better understand the relationships between the two. 

If this project can quantify the relationship between earning a bachelor’s degree from educational institutions and the labor market outcomes of those degree-holders, we will have a better sense of what labor market preparation efforts (needs to be defined) undertaken by colleges and universities are working and which are not. The model that this project intends to build will also provide a rudimentary framework for ongoing evaluation of these efforts.