According to Nelson, 18 institutions have adopted differential tuition based on academic programs in the past three years. Nelson, then a financial officer for the Oregon University System, studied the issue while earning his doctorate from UNL in 2008.
What is not clear is the economic cause. Does this merely represent differences in marginal costs as Art and Humanities professors and their office equipment cost much less than Engineering and Science professors and their lab equipment? Or does it reflect differences in demand as the future earnings in the Arts and Humanities are so much lower than in Engineering and the Sciences? I note that Business students tend to pay more despite the lack of expensive equipment.
Business and engineering are the two programs most frequently subject to higher tuition rates, Nelson found. On average, the 2008 study found that business students pay 14 percent more tuition at colleges that have adopted differential tuition policies; engineering students pay 15 percent more.
Hat tip to Mark Perry