EDUCATION + SCHOOLS

Utah offers highest ‘degree value’ in the country, study finds

Sep 7, 2023, 10:00 AM

SALT LAKE CITY -- The group Venture Smarter ranked all 50 states' "degree value" in terms of tuitio...

Photo: Adobe Stock

SALT LAKE CITY — The group Venture Smarter ranked all 50 states’ “degree value” in terms of tuition versus earnings potential. And, after assessing things like tuition costs, student debt after graduation, and job opportunities, Utah ranked at the top. Another study puts Weber State University at the top of Utah’s institutions.

University President Brad Mortensen said he isn’t surprised by their top rankings.

“We take a lot of pride at Weber State to make sure that our academic programs line up with job opportunities that have high demand in the marketplace,” he said.

Mortensen said this study provides a good opportunity to shine some positive light on higher education.

“The national narrative isn’t always positive, that college is too expensive, and it doesn’t lead to a meaningful degree,” he said. “But I think these types of studies show that there is a lot of value in taking that time to get a college education and that folks here in Utah just have some truly great opportunities.”

The study compares states based on things like average tuition, fees, graduation rates, and a student’s earning potential after graduation. For Weber, they rose with strong healthcare programs, particularly in nursing. Those jobs are in high demand, Mortensen explained, and students do really well after graduating from those fields. 

“There’s a lot of growth right now in Computer Science and Engineering in northern Utah with all the activity that’s happening around Hill Air Force Base,” he added. “And we’ve been able to grow programs in those areas.”

Real-world experience

These may be part of the reason Weber State was recently declared the best institution in Utah in terms of net present value. A study by the Utah Foundation said net present value is how much more a student can earn because of their education minus the cost of that education. President Mortensen said they emphasize practical real-world experience.

“We have a goal at Weber State to provide all of our students, this is kind of a wonky term, but what we call high-impact educational experiences,” he said

Mortensen explained that these experiences can be anything from an internship to a clinical. Additionally, he said there are opportunities like undergraduate research with a professor, or students can even work with nonprofits or other community organizations. It’s about providing opportunities for students to get out of the classroom and have a meaningful impact through their work. 

“(We) certainly try really hard at Weber State to make sure that we’re providing a strong value for our students that not only is meaningful to their education but connects them to a well-paying job in the future.”

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Utah offers highest ‘degree value’ in the country, study finds