You're a college senior, a few exams away from that diploma, and you have to decide how to start your career: should you find a job or go to graduate school? To choose wisely you must estimate the likely economic return on your career investment. It's not an easy calculation. The details will differ depending on where you start your career, from school to school, and from person to person. To simplify things, we'll use average U.S. costs and benefits.
Let's look first at the benefits of a graduate degree. In recent studies, a new master of science in electrical engineering graduate earned more than US $66,000, compared with about $55,000 for bachelor's degree recipients, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers in Bethlehem, Pa. The extra bump from a doctorate was about the same: new Ph.D. salaries averaged almost $76,000.