Which university degrees produce the most (and least) financially responsible students?

This article is adapted from the blog of LendEDU, client of Priceonomics Data Studio. Does your company have interesting data? Become a Priceonomics customer.


What study programs produce students who live within their means?

Some types of graduates can make a lot of money, but they can also accumulate irresponsible levels of debt (cough, cough, MBA students). While other degree programs may produce graduates with low income, but who take less debt and financial risk

We decided to look at the credit scores of recent college graduates and look at what they actually studied and when they graduated. We looked at customer data from Priceonomics LendEDU, which maintains a database of this information for graduates looking to refinance their college loans.

It’s clear that higher degrees are associated with higher income, and they may very well lead to higher credit scores, too, with pharmacy, law, doctorate, MBA, and master’s degrees scoring higher than bachelor’s and associate’s degrees. MBAs in particular are not afraid to rack up debt, take out large home and auto loans while racking up the most credit card debt.

Current students and recent graduates have the lowest credit scores, although the classes hardest hit by the recession have the most credit card debt and the least mortgage debt. Students tend to take more car loans the further away from graduation, but home loans peaked sharply in 2008, followed by declines and recoveries.


Credit scores are ratings used by banks and other lenders to indicate the creditworthiness of a potential borrower. Scores are based on an individual’s payment history, amount owed, length of credit history, credit composition, and percentage of new credit. The ability to pay off balances on time, a healthy mix of credit types, and few new lines of credit lead to a better score. Income is not a factor in a borrower’s credit rating.

Scores range from 300 to 850. In general, scores above 800 are took into consideration excellent; scores between 750 and 799 are very good; 700-749 are good; 650-699 are fair; 600 to 649 are poor; and less than 599 are very poor.

Do students with different degrees have different credit scores? Who is the best?

The data source: LendEDU

Pharmacists have the best credit scores, followed closely by borrowers with a law degree. People with a master’s, doctorate and MBA rank third, fourth and fifth, with scores in the “right” range. Bachelor’s degrees rank sixth, and those with an associate’s degree come last with scores lower in the “fair” range. The higher income associated with higher degrees, especially professional degrees like law and pharmacy, likely makes these borrowers easier to make payments and maintain a good mix of credit cards, retail accounts. and installment loans.

It may have more to do with the state of the economy when students enter the workforce. Do some years of graduation have better credit scores?

The data source: LendEDU

Despite a slight drop in the Class of 2009, graduates (2016 and prior) have fairly consistent scores in the “good” range between 700 and 750. Current students, especially those close to graduation ( 2017), are the worst off, with their median credit score of 636 in the “poor” range.

Since graduate degrees tend to have higher earnings, do they also incur less credit card debt?

The data source: LendEDU

Higher income doesn’t mean less credit card debt – in fact, it’s the other way around, with associate’s degree holders having the least credit card debt. Doctoral and MBA graduates accumulate the most credit card debt, averaging over $ 4,000. Surprisingly, pharmacists are the conservative exception, incurring less credit card debt than all associate degrees.

With the rising cost of education, are current students racking up more credit card debt than established graduates?

The data source: LendEDU

Current students actually have the least amount of credit card debt. Maybe they can’t or haven’t opened credit accounts yet, or they just haven’t had time to build a balance.

Students in the Class of 2009 and 2010, who graduated at the height of the recession, have the most credit card debt – nearly double those in 2008 and 2011.

If MBAs take on the most credit card debt, do they also take on the largest auto and home loans?

The data source: LendEDU

It turns out that pharmacists take the largest auto loans, with a median amount of $ 41,764 borrowed, closely followed by doctoral and MBA degrees. These borrowers can support multiple auto loans rather than a single luxury vehicle.

Lawyers are surprisingly cautious with auto loans, borrowing a little more than associate and bachelor graduates. They may buy cars with cash or tend to live in larger cities where car ownership is not possible.

Are students who graduated longer and are more established in their careers taking larger car loans?

The data source: LendEDU

There is a clear trend that borrowers with an earlier graduation date are taking more money to buy cars – although there is a noticeable deviation from the 2012 trend. 2012 may have prompted this year’s graduates to borrow more money.

Are these trends also valid for home loans? If so, we would expect to see pharmacists and graduates from previous years take out larger home loans.

The data source: LendEDU

Again, MBAs are not afraid to go into debt, borrowing an average of nearly $ 450,000 to purchase their home (s). Pharmacists and lawyers also rank very well, although PhD graduates invest in home loans in amounts similar to those of master’s graduates. Associate degrees borrow the least amount of mortgage loans.

The data source: LendEDU

While we expected to see graduates of the first years of class borrowing more home loans, instead we see an indicative trend in the housing market over time – a peak in 2008 followed by a great recession and provisional recovery from 2012.


After the recession hit and a college degree no longer guaranteed a job, many began to wonder: what is the real value of a college education? With a little patience, maybe a good credit score.

In general, higher degrees equate to higher credit scores and larger home and auto loans. Students who graduated longer have better credit scores and larger loans than current students. The Class of 2017 has the lowest scores, but if the trend continues, they will soon be back in the “right” area.


To note: If you’re a business that wants to work with Priceonomics to turn your data into compelling stories, learn more about the Priceonomics Data Studio.

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About Lois Mendez

Lois Mendez

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