A degree from Maine Maritime Academy generates one of the highest returns on investment in the country, according to a new report released Thursday from researchers at Georgetown University. The report's authors say the latest data provide a new measure to gauge a school's value — beyond its national reputation.
Maine Maritime Academy in Castine is home to fewer than 1,000 students, but it is one of only a select number of colleges in the country that trains future mariners as part of its mission.
President Bill Brennan says the school may not be the right fit for, say, an aspiring concert pianist. But for students wanting to study science, engineering and marine technology, the school offers intense academics and hands-on training.
“We're much more narrowly focused than, say, a university, or a liberal arts college, that has a diverse curriculum,” Brennan says.
And, according to a recent report from Georgetown University, a degree from Maine Maritime Academy (MMA) has significant long-term value. The study used newly released federal data to assess the return on investment of degrees from thousands of colleges nationwide. Maine Maritime was near the top, near schools like Stanford and MIT. In fact, MMA was projected to return the sixth-highest value 40 years after a student had enrolled.
“The American system basically teaches everybody that the optimal choice is high school to Harvard. And in economic terms, that's not true,” says Tony Carnevale, director of Georgetown University's Center for Education and the Workforce.
Carnevale says the report offers one of the first comprehensive looks at the long-term economic return of college degrees. While schools with elite reputations scored well, Carnavale says some colleges that are more directed towards a particular industry, like Maine Maritime Academy and the St. Louis College of Pharmacy, had comparable values over 40 years.
"It's that direct connection to an industry where the occupations pay very well that really does drive the earnings," he says.
MMA President Brennan says the school strives for a "career-oriented approach" with hands-on training and requisite co-op programs. And, he says, it is now common that more than 90 percent of MMA students are placed in a job in their field within 90 days of graduating.
“Our alumni provide those co-op opportunities for our students,” he says. “Then our alumni hire those students. So that connection to the workforce for our students is huge.”
And Georgetown’s Tony Carnevale says at a time when tuition and student debt continue to rise, the new report may inform students, and their parents, in deciding which college to choose.
Originally published 5:05 p.m. Nov. 14, 2019