Data Offers Insights into the Earning Power of College Graduates in Arkansas

Washington, D.C. – Data showing how recent graduates of Arkansas colleges and universities have fared in the labor market are now publicly available on the website, a joint venture of the American Institutes for Research (AIR) and the Matrix Knowledge Group.

The data includes detailed information on the average first year earnings of graduates, broken down by the institution attended and the degree or certificate earned. The data involves the years 2006 through 2010. All the 22 two-year colleges and 22 public and private four-year institutions in the state are included. The web resource is the result of a partnership between and the Arkansas Research Center, a collaboration of several Arkansas state agencies to link data for education related research.

“This is a consumer-oriented effort that provides students, parents and policymakers with information to help them make choices when it comes to higher education,” said Mark Schneider, a vice president at AIR and former commissioner of the federal National Center for Education Statistics. “Where you go to school and what degree you earn make a difference – and it is not always the difference you assume.”

The information includes:

  • The data show that many associate’s degree programs had graduates with earnings that were competitive with similar programs at the bachelor’s degree level.  For example, at Arkansas State University, the Registered Nursing associate’s degree program graduates earned an average of $41,888, while Registered Nursing bachelor’s degree graduates averaged $43,300 – a difference of only $1,500. However, this is not always the case.  The same two degrees from The University of Arkansas – Little Rock had a difference in average earnings of over $20,000.
  • At all levels, the data show wide variation in earnings for graduates of different degree programs at the same college. For example, at the University of Arkansas, mechanical engineering bachelor’s degree graduates earned over $47,000 in their first year in the labor market, while journalism bachelor’s degree graduates earned under $28,000.
  • There is less variation in degrees from the same major, but from different schools.  For example, Bachelor of Science graduates in Computer and Information Sciences from The University of Arkansas earned over $43,500 in their first year, while the statewide average was just over $40,500.
  • This trend was also true among graduates receiving the most popular bachelor’s degree – Business Administration and Management, which is offered at 16 institutions and graduated 3,500 students over the last five years. They had average earnings of $31,445. Some schools produced graduates with earnings well above the average - for example, John Brown University graduates earned over $37,000.

About AIR
Established in 1946, with headquarters in Washington, D.C., the American Institutes for Research (AIR) is a nonpartisan not-for-profit organization that conducts behavioral and social science research and delivers technical assistance both domestically and internationally in the areas of health, education and workforce productivity. For more information, visit


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