Exploring Earnings by Major in the PSEO Data: Masters Institutions

The past six blog posts have been built upon the US Census Bureau’s Post-Secondary Employment Outcomes (PSEO) dataset. While these entries in no way exhaust the exploratory paths that could be taken through the PSEO data, this blog post will serve as our series finale of sorts (at least for the time being) for the PSEO data. In this last installment of the series, we take a look at the post-graduation earnings by Major Group across Masters Institutions based on Carnegie Classification. As a reminder, there are several caveats in the PSEO data, such as the earnings data being based on Unemployment Insurance (UI) wages that exclude some segments of the workforce (e.g., workers among private sector employers that are independent contractors, unincorporated self-employed, some family employees of family-owned business, certain farm workers, etc.).

Average Earnings by Major Groups Over Time: 1, 5, and 10 Years Post-Graduation

In order to maintain continuity, we continue using the “Major Group” classification schema introduced in the previous blog posts, which was originally developed by Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce (CEW, see page 39). These Major Groups organize the many academic disciplines in the PSEO data into a more manageable number of 15 instructional clusters. As with the previous presentations of the PSEO data, three time-points are included across the data visualizations below: 1, 5, and 10 years after graduation. Having 15 Major Groups with three time-points each provides us with a total of 45 earnings observations represented in the PSEO data. 

One of the issues in the Masters Universities data that did not exist in the Doctoral Institutions data was the number of institutions with lower numbers of observations. In the Doctoral Institutions data, 44 of the 58 institutions had at least 42 of the total 45 earnings observations, whereas only 11 out of 54 Masters Institutions had at least 40 of the total 45 earnings observations. The variability in earnings observations across institution types (Doctoral versus Masters) highlights one of the reasons why we have chosen to conduct our analyses by institutional level throughout this PSEO series of blog posts. This feature will be more important in the “Summarizing University Rankings” later in the blog post.

Given the number of possible combinations of analyses that we could walk through, the narrative discussion will be fairly limited. However, the visualization was designed to provide the user with multiple filtering options to be able to explore the various features of the PSEO data by Major Groups within Carnegie Classifications. To enhance readability and interpretability, we have restricted the selection of Carnegie Classification and Major Group to one at a time. The default setting places Master’s Universities: Larger Programs with the Agriculture and Natural Resources major as the initial view, with the data sorted by the “Year 1 Avg Earnings” column. Because there are no Texas public universities in the Master’s: Small Programs group, we have removed that category as a filtering option. As in previous posts, the columns can be sorted using the “sort” icon that appears at the bottom of each column next to the column heading. Empty cells represent missing data in the original PSEO data. The fill color of the bars is associated with public university system membership for Texas institutions, as all non-Texas institutions are classified as “Out-of-State” and are filled with a light gray color.

By way of observation…

  • Depending on which Major Group is selected, there are numerous missing data points as evidenced by blank cells. This is due to either the institution not offering academic programs contained within the Major Group category, or there not being enough observations within the PSEO data to be included by the US Census Bureau.
  • In the initial view, six of the top 10 institutions in the Agriculture and Natural Resources Major Group for Master’s: Larger Programs are from Texas, with UH Clear Lake having the highest earnings at each time point.  
  • In the Architecture and Engineering major group for Masters: Larger Program institutions, University of Texas Permian Basin, University of Houston-Downtown, and West Texas A&M University are the top-three institutions for Year 1 average earnings.  By Year 10, two Louisiana schools (both of which had missing data in Year 1) occupy the top-two spots, with the two University of Houston campuses claiming the third and fourth ranking positions for this major group.
  • In Year 10 of the Business major group, three New York institutions hold the top spots in the Master’s: Larger Programs data with average earnings above $76,000. We can compare these data with the top-earning Business majors from the Doctoral: Very High Research Activity institutions, which showed that University of Michigan graduates earn more than $145K on average in the 10th year after graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Business.
  • Those interested in comparing earnings of Education graduates from Texas institutions will be disappointed with the PSEO data. The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board’s (THECB) classification of Education majors as either Interdisciplinary majors or within content areas results in no Texas universities shown in the Education major group. With recent changes in how the THECB classifies Education majors, we expect these data to be available in the future.
NOTES: If you are unable to read the labels in the visualization below, we recommend clicking the “Full Screen” button on the lower right of the visualization window to enlarge the information. Hovering over each point will provide a tooltip with additional information. 

Summarizing University Rankings

As we did with the Doctoral Institutions in the previous blog post, we decided to calculate an overall average ranking of earnings for institutions in the Master’s: Larger Programs category as well. In order to summarize the earnings by major group data, we ranked the universities in each of the 45 earnings observations within each of the three Doctoral-level Carnegie Classification groups. Then we created an overall average ranking for each institution across the major groups within each Carnegie Classification, which is represented in the visualization below. 

Not all institutions have data for each of the 15 major groups. Also, some institutions have some data in a major group, but do not have data at all three time-points after graduation. This results in a fairly large portion of the institutions having less than the maximum total of 45 earnings observations possible in the data. To conduct the ranking analysis, we established a threshold for an institution to be included in the rankings analysis: the institution had to have earnings data in at least 33 of the possible 45 earnings observations, which is roughly 75 percent. While 54 public Master’s Universities in the PSEO data have earnings data in at least one observation, the overall rankings data included only 30 institutions that met the threshold. None of the Master’s Universities had data in all 45 earnings observations. Also, the data below are limited just to the Master’s: Larger Programs, due to the other Masters-level categories being very limited in the number of institutions that met the total count threshold.

As can be seen below, the University of Houston-Clear Lake was the highest ranking Texas institution in average rankings of earnings across the Master’s: Larger Programs group of institutions, slightly trailing three institutions from the eastern United States in the PSEO data. West Texas A&M University and Tarleton State University were both in the top-half of the average rankings of earnings in this Carnegie Classification group, with Prairie View A&M University, Midwestern State University, and Angelo State University falling just below the top 50-percent mark in these data. UT Permian Basin, Sul Ross State University, Texas A&M International University, UH-Downtown, UH-Victoria, and Texas A&M University-San Antonio did not have enough data observations to be included in the overall rankings calculations.

So What?

Throughout this multi-part series, we have explored a variety of data points included in the US Census Bureau’s PSEO dataset. We walked through the data from the broadest level of overall average earnings by institution in the various Carnegie Classification groups (May 1, 2021 and May 15, 2021) to looking at the rates of bachelor’s graduates who were non-/marginally-employed (June 1, 2021 and June 15, 2021) to analyzing average earnings by academic major group (July 1, 2021 and July 15, 2021). One of the primary goals has been to take advantage of the multi-state nature of the PSEO data to make comparisons among similar institutions located in other states, which is a level of analysis that has not been possible to this point. 

While our blog posts have exclusively concentrated on average earnings of bachelor’s degreeholders, the PSEO data also include earnings data for master’s and doctoral degreeholders from four-year universities, as well as certificate and associate’s degreeholders from two-year colleges, which could lead to many different research questions and queries. Recent updates to the list of data partners will also expand the PSEO data from institutions in 11 states to 19 states, which will allow even more comprehensive data comparisons to be conducted in the near future. For those seeking additional data, the PSEO data can be further explored on an institution-level basis by accessing the PSEO Explorer interactive visualization. We welcome comments and feedback as to specific lines of inquiry that could be addressed in future data blog posts as the PSEO dataset continues to expand and mature.

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