The labor-market returns to community college degrees, diplomas, and certificates

Christopher Jepsen, Kenneth Troske, Paul Coomes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

132 Scopus citations


This article provides one of the first rigorous estimations of the labor-market returns to community college certificates and diplomas, as well as estimations of the returns to the more commonly studied associate's degrees. Using administrative data from Kentucky, we estimate panel-data models that control for differences among students in precollege earnings and educational aspirations. Associate's degrees and diplomas have quarterly earnings returns of nearly $2,400 for women and $1,500 for men, compared with much smaller returns for certificates. There is substantial heterogeneity in returns across fields of study. Degrees, diplomas, and-for women-certificates correspond with higher levels of employment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)95-121
Number of pages27
JournalJournal of Labor Economics
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Industrial relations
  • Economics and Econometrics


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