Master’s Degrees That Actually Pay Off

By Kathy Morris
Oct. 13, 2021

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For better or worse, higher education is an expensive investment in future earning potential.

According to the National Student Clearinghouses since 2020, graduate enrollment has increased by 4.6%. Yet, with the student debt crisis and many students struggling to pay back their loans, the question looms, “Is it worth it?”

We analyzed the data and found that for some fields, masters’ degrees substantially increase earning potential. Below you can see the majors where a master’s degree are the most lucrative:

How We Determined This

Using data from NACE’s Summer 2021 Salary Survey, we highlighted the 10 Master’s degrees where the starting master’s degree salary has the highest increase in pay from average starting Bachelor’s degrees salaries.

These figures are for base salaries only and do not include bonuses, commissions, fringe benefits, or overtime rates. Data was gathered from Class of 2020 graduates through December 31, 2020 to May 15, 2021 from over 249 schools that provided salary data by specific program or major.

Before you enroll…

Keep in mind while these 10 degrees saw the highest increase in pay with a master’s degree, a handful have bachelor’s degrees with a below average earning potential.

At the end of the day, this means while a master’s degree might improve your salary, it might not exactly buy a McMansion or even pay off your hefty student loans.

A good example is social work, where the average graduate earns only a measly $35,622 starting out for an important- but draining job. A Master’s degree will increase that average salary by 37%, but that salary is still only $48,711– a number far below the starting Bachelor’s salary in many more lucrative fields.

So before you let dollar signs cloud your vision, be sure you do your research to make sure its a job you don’t mind doing everyday and crunch the numbers to see how feasible a career it is for you personally. Zippia can be a great resource to use in guiding your career decisions- or landing a job in your chosen field

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Kathy Morris

Kathy is the head of content at Zippia with a knack for engaging audiences. Prior to joining Zippia, Kathy worked at Gateway Blend growing audiences across diverse brands. She graduated from Troy University with a degree in Social Science Education.

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Topics: Study