This research paper asks the question, how does a liberal arts degree versus a state university degree affect wages for post-graduates seeking employment in the labor market? After graduating and entrance into the labor force, state university graduates receive a higher starting salary due to specific human capital attainment. Over time, liberal arts college graduates receive a higher salary because of a more broad human capital acquired through formal education. Data was collected from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth starting in 1997 (NLSY97) pertaining to demographics and labor market experiences. Various factors are attributed to the changes in earnings such as gender, race, occupation, industry, citizenship, US geographical location of residents, and whether the individual attended a liberal arts college or state university. Results indicated that state university graduates received a higher starting wage, but as time progressed, the salary gap between liberal arts college graduates and state university graduates diminished.


Ormiston, Russell



Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



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