College of Social Sciences


Masters Salary Ranking

Best-Paying and Worst-Paying Master’s Degrees

By Charyn Pfeuffer, PayScale.com

If you’re looking for the most bang for your postgraduate educational buck, some master’s degrees yield bigger financial returns than others.

Katie Bardaro, lead analyst at online salary database PayScale.com, says that many of the top-paying master’s degrees are in technical fields such as engineering and computer science. “These are areas where it pays to get additional training and build upon the knowledge acquired in an undergraduate program,” Bardaro says.

Although Bardaro says any degree that allows you to increase your technical know-how is valuable when it comes to salary, she cautions that more education does not always result in higher income, especially when you factor in the cost of obtaining the degree. “Education is like any other investment, in that one needs to do some cost-benefit analysis before taking the plunge,” she says.

Below, we’ve ranked the 10 best-paying and five worst-paying master’s degrees and listed three top-paying, typical jobs for graduates and median, mid-career salary information. The master’s of business administration (MBA) is not included in this list.

To put the salaries in perspective, the median pay per master’s-degree category is:

  • Engineering and technology degrees: $110,000
  • Arts and sciences degrees: $83,300
  • Pre-professional degrees: $84,100

10 Best-Paying Master’s Degrees

1. Master’s in Electrical Engineering

  • Median Pay: $121,000
  • Possible Jobs: Senior systems engineer ($124,000), software developer ($112,000), senior electrical engineer ($108,000)

2. Master’s in Finance

  • Median Pay: $120,000
  • Possible Jobs: Vice president of finance ($170,000), finance director ($154,000), senior financial analyst ($83,500)

3. Master’s in Chemical Engineering

  • Median Pay: $117,000
  • Possible Jobs: Process engineering manager ($148,000), senior chemical engineer ($124,000),chemical process engineer ($102,000)

4. Master’s in Economics

  • Median Pay: $114,000
  • Possible Jobs: Marketing director ($150,000), economist ($107,000), senior financial analyst ($104,000)

5. Master’s in Physics

  • Median Pay: $113,000
  • Possible Jobs: Senior software engineer ($112,000), physicist ($93,400), secondary school teacher ($70,000)

6. Master’s in Computer Science

  • Median Pay: $109,000
  • Possible Jobs: Software architect ($124,000), IT project manager ($109,000), software developer ($96,100)

7. Master’s in Mechanical Engineering

  • Median Pay: $105,000
  • Possible Jobs: Senior mechanical engineer ($100,000), project engineer ($88,300), mechanical engineer ($86,800)

8. Master’s in Civil Engineering

  • Median Pay: $97,100
  • Possible Jobs: Construction project manager ($97,100), structural engineer ($86,600), civil engineer ($84,800)

9. Master’s in Physician Assistant Studies

  • Median Pay: $96,200
  • Possible Jobs: Physician assistant ($96,500)

10. Master’s in Management Information Systems

  • Median Pay: $95,000
  • Possible Jobs: Senior software engineer ($105,000), IT manager ($92,600), systems analyst ($82,400)