Return on Investment

Karl “Chip” Case, renowned developer of the Case-Shiller Index, analyzes the return on investment of a
Wellesley education from an economist’s perspective.

There is powerful literature on the rate of return on investment (ROI) in a highly selective college education. Professor Case demonstrates Wellesley’s extraordinary ROI using five key indicators and providing data to support them.

Indicator: Extent of Choice

Professor Case Says:

Wellesley’s ROI is tied to the expansive opportunities and choices that a great liberal arts and sciences education provides. Wellesley students have broad and deep choices to double major, participate in global academic exchanges, and engage in research and internships. Taking advantage of these choices expands the field of choices in students’ futures.

At larger institutions, more students compete for these spots. Students often require an extra semester or year to fulfill degree requirements—an expensive proposition. The academic talents of our students, mixed with our outstanding curriculum, close student/faculty collaboration, and four years of strong advising, garner many positive results. For example, our graduates earn an impressive number of prestigious grants and national fellowships for postgraduate study (Rhodes, Fulbright, Watson). Acceptance rates to graduate and professional programs are among the highest nationally.

Data Points

  • 2,300 students from diverse socioeconomic, cultural, and geographic backgrounds
  • More than 1,000 courses and 54 majors
  • More than 160 student organizations
  • 14 varsity sports; countless recreational and wellness activities

Indicator: Faculty as Teachers, Scholars, Mentors

Professor Case Says:

 Wellesley professors are here because we want to teach and mentor students. At Wellesley, interaction with faculty is part of daily life. Students form lifetime relationships with faculty, meet at conferences, stay in touch via email, and return to Wellesley to visit. I both attended and taught for several years at a large Ivy League institution. I couldn’t tell you some of my professors’ names. I saw a lot of undergraduate students fall through the cracks.

Wellesley faculty members are well connected; they stay at the forefront in their fields and have strong connections to graduate schools and employers. They call us, we call them; much of the placement is done this way. Graduate schools and employers know that Wellesley students have strong academic and leadership skills, but these connections give our graduates an additional leg up on the competition. It’s part of what you pay for, and it’s an advantage that lasts a lifetime.

Data Points

  • Student/faculty ratio of 7:1
  • 100 percent of classes taught by faculty; of whom 98 percent hold the highest degree in field
  • 80 percent of students attend graduate school within 10 years
  • Schools most often attended by recent graduates: Harvard, Stanford, UC Berkeley, MIT, Yale, Princeton

Indicator: Cosmopolitan setting

Professor Case Says:

Access to cultural, academic, social, business, and medical institutions is a powerful boost to the education at Wellesley. Students benefit directly from these resources.

Not so obvious a benefit is the impact on faculty. We enjoy the advantages of colleagues, meetings, and research in this, the ultimate academic hub. Wellesley can hire great scholars because we have access to the strong pool already in Boston, and the best are willing to move to this rich environment of peers. We successfully compete for faculty with Ivy League colleges, not only with other liberal arts colleges.

Data Points

  • 50+ colleges and universities in the Boston/Cambridge area
  • Cross-registration with MIT and others
  • 250,000 college students in the Boston/Cambridge area
  • World-class cosmopolitan area with vast social, cultural, political, educational, professional, and recreational resources

Indicator: Financial strength and stability

Professor Case Says:

Wellesley’s strong endowment enables us to offer need-blind admission; this allows us to enroll the best and brightest students, regardless of their ability to pay. Investment in science and technology at Wellesley is ongoing and significant, which allows us to stay ahead of the curve. Anyone who has visited campus knows the valuable asset here in buildings, equipment, and technology. Wellesley is here to stay.

Data Points

  • Largest endowment per student of any liberal arts and sciences college
  • Financial aid budget of more than $50 million reserved to support undergraduate access and affordability
  • 100 percent of demonstrated financial need met for eligible students
  • Ongoing investment in science and technology, new buildings and facilities

Indicator: Opportunities for women

Professor Case Says:

If considering a coed college, take note the ratio of male/female leadership positions. Is the population 50 percent women, but leadership roles are 90 percent male? What percent of women are awarded funds for research, earn key jobs, attend scientific meetings? Do men dominate the faculty?

As a result of the College's nearly limitless opportunities, women who graduate from Wellesley go on to contribute and lead in virtually every field of endeavor.

Alumnae participation at Wellesley, both financially and personally, is legendary. Over 20,000 active alumnae are ready to act as mentors, arrange interviews, or help you network in their organizations or industries. They can also be helpful when relocating to a new city, introducing you to friends, or even helping you find a place to live.

Data Points

  • 100 percent of resources for research, stipends, internships, and conference participation are awarded to women
  • 100 percent of student leadership positions are held by women
  • Impressive records in winning national fellowship awards, in holding Ph.D.s in male-dominated fields (such as economics), and in pursuing advanced degrees in the sciences
  • Lifelong access and support from Wellesley’s extraordinary alumnae network


Professor Chip Case
Karl "Chip" Case
Professor Emeritus of Economics
B.A., Miami University; A.M., Ph.D., Harvard University

Long-time Wellesley economics professor whose acclaimed research is concerned with the causes and effects of boom and bust cycles in real estate. More



Nine graduating seniors and young alumnae were awarded Fulbright Grants in 2011. In fact, nine is the average number of Wellesley grads receiving Fulbrights each year for the last decade.


Wellesley grads have had a 73 percent acceptance rate to medical school in recent years, compared to the national average of 45 percent.


Two out of three female U.S. Secretaries of State have been Wellesley grads.