Document Type

Master's Culminating Experience

Publication Date



This study’s objective is to determine the net present values (NPV) of both a master’s degree and Ph.D. degree for six demographic categories. One of the purposes of this study is to determine whether from a social perspective a master’s and Ph.D. degree should be pursued. Cost/benefit analysis is performed to determine whether social benefits exceed social costs of these degree programs. The goal is to determine whether it is advantageous to society to obtain more education. A second and equally important purpose of this study is to determine the role of gender and race in establishing returns to higher education. This study considers NPVs for 6 different demographic categories: (1) men from all races, (2) women from all races, (3) white men, (4) white women, (5) black men and (6) black women.

Results suggest that the NPV of a master’s degree for all 6 categories is positive. It is socially advantageous for both men and women for all categories to pursue a master’s degree. In racial comparisons, a notable pattern of NPV has emerged. Specifically, in their respective categories, white men and women have the highest NPV for a master’s degree. These categories are followed by men and women from any race. (Of course, in most cases, “from any race” is a statistical construct.) Black men have the lowest NPVs for the male categories. Black women have the lowest NPVs for women.

The NPV of a Ph.D. for women from any category is positive, while it is negative for men. It is not advantageous from a social perspective for men to pursue a Ph.D. In women’s categories, black women have the highest NPV (most positive), while in men’s categories, blacks have the lowest NPV (most negative). In the categories of women, the NPV of whites is higher than NPV of any race and lower than NPV of blacks.