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Degrees of Success: The Payoff to Higher Education in Canada

September 11, 201311 September 2013

Arts education

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Based largely on 2006 labour force data, this report examines the earnings of university graduates in Canada. Overall, the report notes that “it pays to get a post-secondary education”, but returns to education vary by field of study.

For all university graduates at the bachelor’s level, average earnings are 30% higher than for high school graduates. At the low end of the scale, university graduates from fine and applied arts programs earn 12% less than high school graduates. Humanities graduates earn only 23% more than high school graduates. At the high end of the scale, engineering graduates earn more than double the earnings of high school graduates, while math and computer science graduates earn 86% more than high school graduates.

In addition to field of study, the report points to the relatively low earnings of highly-educated immigrants as a factor in the “narrowing premium on education”.

The Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada has posted a “clarification” of the findings of the CIBC World Markets report ( Regarding the labour force outcomes of arts graduates, the Association argues that “the analytical and critical thinking skills graduates acquire through arts degrees are in demand and help grads adapt to changes in the labour market”.

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