Date of Award

Fall 2019

Document Type


First Advisor

Catherine Berheide


How might an Asian immigrant who earned a college degree abroad experience different returns to their degree than an Asian American with an American degree? Human capital theory suggests that additional schooling is rewarded in the labor market because employers value the skills, training, and knowledge that come from additional education. However, I propose that foreign education lessens the returns to degrees (job relatedness, income, and job satisfaction) for Asians in the U.S. labor market. I analyze a subset of 12,372 Asian-identifying respondents from the 2017 National Survey of College Graduates, a biennial survey of college graduates in the United States. At the bivariate and multivariate level, foreign educated Asians report their jobs being more related to their highest degree than U.S. educated Asians. Additionally, there is no statistically significant relationship between income, job satisfaction, and foreign education. Thus, my hypotheses are disconfirmed and human capital theory is supported. Of my independent and control variables, the proportion of a respondent’s life spent in the U.S. is the largest predictor of job relatedness and income. The more time a respondent has spent in the U.S., the less related their principal job is to their highest degree and the more income the respondent earns. This study invites further research on returns to degrees for Asians by disaggregating the generalized racial identity into ethnic groups to uncover differences within the Asian racial group.