Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Liberal Studies


Anthony G. Picciano

Subject Categories

Higher Education


higher education, economic inequality, affordability, instructional technology and innovation, Moody's


The Economics of American Higher Education


Robin Freedman

Advisor: Anthony G. Picciano

American higher education is facing a perfect storm of converging issues and challenges which are threatening the demand for its product and the value proposition it offers. Many of these challenges, such as changing delivery models, rising student debt, lower government funding, growing economic inequality and job readiness concerns are all potential obstacles to a college degree, which continues to command a wage premium in the job market. Using a literature review methodology to examine the body of material that is available on this topic, a synthesis of current thought was created. This examination included a review of Moody’s Investors Service credit outlooks for the sector in the post-Recession period (2012-present) to determine if Moody’s outlook aligns with current higher education thought leaders. The results showed a consensus of thought on the need for continued improvement of the cost and quality of the educational delivery model, which will address the issues of affordability, educational attainment, productivity, job readiness, and globalization. This improvement requires not only a monetary investment in technological innovation but faculty and executive leadership support to achieve economic stability and sustainability for American higher education.