College Scorecard Adds Grad School Earnings, Student Debt Data

Students can now use the Education Department's College Scorecard to compare certifications, master's, and doctoral degrees.
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Matthew Arrojas is a news reporter at BestColleges covering higher education issues and policy. He previously worked as the hospitality and tourism news reporter at the South Florida Business Journal. He also covered higher education policy issues as...
Updated on April 28, 2023
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  • The College Scorecard is the federal government's student-facing source for college program data.
  • Historically, the Scorecard has focused on undergraduate degree programs.
  • A recent update now allows graduate students to access many tools previously only available to undergraduates.
  • Information, however, is limited at the graduate level due to smaller programs.

Students interested in pursuing a graduate degree can now compare graduate programs based on median earnings and median student loan debt accumulated in specific programs.

The Department of Education (ED) announced Tuesday that an update to the College Scorecard greatly expands the information available to prospective graduate students. The Scorecard is ED's student-facing source for school cost information, but it has historically been a tool most helpful for undergraduate programs, much to the chagrin of advocates.

ED added data for the following types of programs in its College Scorecard update:

  • Post-baccalaureate certificates
  • Master's degrees
  • Doctoral degrees

Chazz Robinson, an education policy advisor at the think tank Third Way, told BestColleges the update is a huge step forward in adding transparency to a historically opaque system.

"That's a crucial addition by the department given the major financial commitment to enroll in graduate school," Robinson said. "There is still more work to be done on making data more transparent on all levels of education, but this is a great sign that the department sees graduate education as critical to the discussion on higher education."

On College Scorecard, data is still often incomplete for most post-baccalaureate programs.

For example, of the 82 doctoral programs at the University of Florida, College Scorecard only lists median earnings for 13 and median total debt after graduation for just two. Of the university's 114 master's programs, the site includes recorded earnings data for 41 and debt for 23.

Robinson said the lack of data is likely due to the smaller program sizes. For confidentiality reasons, programs with few graduates cannot publicly share data. That way individual students can't be identified.

"There's a thin line to walk when it comes to making sure no one can be identified and that [Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act] laws are being followed," he said.