Though the study was undertaken in USA, and one can safely assume that the results could deviate for the global averages, but not be drastically opposite. Picture this, a university-educated person, between the ages of 25-34, in 1972, could expect to earn 22% more than a peer without a degree, but today this figure has risen to 70%. This simply indicates the increased demand for skilled workers, having undergone official education and training. However, a newly published report by PayScale, a research firm, says that the benefits of a college degree are not evenly distributed across all fields. The report compares the career earnings of college graduates with the present-day cost of a degree at their alma maters, after taking account of financial aid.

The report concludes that exclusivity of a college or its selectivity might be a big pull, but the financial viability depends far more on the courses studies than the university itself. In the USA, here is the 20-years annualised return on various college degrees:

Engineering and Computer-Science: Engineering and computer-science students earn most, achieving an impressive 20-year annualised return of 12% (the S&P 500 managed a return of just 7.8%). Engineers were also least dependent on institutional prestige: graduates from less-selective schools experienced only a slight decrease in average returns, thereby, indicating the overall favourablity of degrees of this field from the market-perspective.