A graduate degree isn’t a guarantee, either of employment or high earnings. For one thing, not all graduate degrees are created equal. Some fields obviously grow more than others, and may or may not reward candidates with advanced degrees on their CVs. Some occupations require licensure to practice, or set the barrier of entry at a certain educational level. To help you figure out whether going back to school is in your best interests, this year’s College Salary Report ranks the top graduate degrees by earnings.
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These are highest-paying degrees in the ranking:
1. Masters, Petroleum Engineering
Petroleum Engineering also made the top of PayScale’s list of high-paying bachelor’s degrees, but earning a masters bumps graduates’ salaries up by $5,000 per year.
Early Career Median Pay: $96,500
Mid-Career Median Pay: $173,000
% High Job Meaning: 74 percent
2. Masters, Nurse Anesthesia
Nursing majors earn the second-highest early career salaries on the highest-paying associate degree lists, and Registered Nurses with bachelor’s degrees often have greater choice when it comes to employers, but their salaries max out pretty early on. Nurse Anesthetists earn more than double Registered Nurses’ mid-career median salary of $73,600.
Early Career Median Pay: $139,000
Mid-Career Median Pay: $159,000
% High Job Meaning: 79 percent
3. MBA, Strategy
Want to become a Management Consultant and determine the direction of entire companies? This MBA might be for you. Students contemplating this degree should feel comfortable analyzing data and doing research.
Early Career Median Pay: $93,100
Mid-Career Median Pay: $148,000
% High Job Meaning: 45 percent
4. MBA, General and Strategic Management
Good leaders are both born and made. To lead big teams, you’ll need the experience and education to make sound decisions on a large scale. MBAs in General and Strategic Management can help companies effectively manage their staff.
Early Career Median Pay: $84,000
Mid-Career Median Pay: $144,000
% High Job Meaning: 51 percent
5. MBA, Finance and Real Estate
What a difference a few years makes. While the real estate market endured a rocky couple of years during the recession, it’s back on track, making this MBA concentration a worthwhile investment.
Early Career Median Pay: $78,900
Mid-Career Median Pay: $143,000
% High Job Meaning: 37 percent
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