PayScale recently published a list of graduate degrees ranked by salary, so if you're thinking about furthering your education or making a career change, you might want to consider some of these options.
Engineering graduate degrees had some of the highest salaries on this list, including the highest median mid-career salary of $187,600 for people with a master's in petroleum engineering. This list shows the ranking of engineering graduate degrees' median early career salaries and median mid-career salaries.
● Petroleum engineering master's ($102,800, $187,600)
● Computer engineering doctorate ($108,100, $150,000)
● Electrical and computer engineering doctorate ($103,200, $145,100)
● Electrical engineering doctorate ($99,100, $141,400)
● Chemical engineering doctorate ($91,900, $139,300)
● Biomedical engineering doctorate ($90,300, $136,400)
● Computer science and engineering doctorate ($102,700, $132,900)
Business degrees started out a little lower for early career salaries but fared well in mid-career salaries.
● Strategy MBA ($92,200, $145,000)
● General and strategic management MBA ($81,800, $140,700)
● Entrepreneurship MBA ($68,100, $138,300)
● Marketing management MBA ($63,000, $135,300)
● Economics MBA ($71,400, $131,800)
● Computer science MBA ($83,000, $129,900)
● Marketing and international business MBA ($61,700, $128,200)
● Economics doctorate ($95,900, $127,900)
● Finance MBA ($68,300, $126,800)
Josefina Rodriguez graduated NYU Stern School of Business with an MBA in marketing, product management and entrepreneurship. "I took the GMAT and sent in essays (including a scrapbook that I made!) to get in. I was in the part-time program so I went to school and worked as a marketing manager at a big financial firm at the same time." She's now the CMO for her own commercial real estate tech startup, WiredScore.
If you already have a master's degree, that can make getting another one easier, says Dan Vuksanovich, CMO of Gravity & Momentum. "I got my MBA from Northern Illinois University in 2010. I already had a master of music degree from The Johns Hopkins University, so getting into the program was pretty easy. The director waived the GMAT requirement. All I had to do was fill out the application."
Science graduate degrees also fared well on the salary list.
● Computer science doctorate ($110,800, $140,600)
● Physics doctorate ($84,000, $131,300)
● Organic chemistry doctorate ($77,500, $126,700)
● Chemistry doctorate ($79,400, $122,600)
● Analytical chemistry ($80,000, $120,000)
Other masters programs with great payback potential
The nurse anesthesia master's degree had the highest early-career salary of $140,900.
● Nurse anesthesia ($140,900, $162,800)
● Juris doctorate ($66,100, $139,000)
● Applied mathematics ($62,000, $121,300)
● Statistics ($100,000, $120,300)
"I can tell you that obtaining a JD is difficult," says attorney Ronald Lieberman. After taking the LSAT, the candidate then decides where to apply. "Then the candidate has to successfully enroll in law school. Thereafter, it takes three years of really intense studying to earn the JD from the law school. During that three-year period, the candidate is constantly being pushed and challenged to learn all forms of law and to radically change the way he or she thought about issues."
Worth the effort?
Don't give up if you get rejected when you first apply to grad school, says Jake Chapman, now the vice president of strategy for Sazze. He got his JD from the University of California at Berkeley and says, "I applied right out of undergrad having taken the LSAT and receiving a good but not great score. … I attended the University of San Francisco School of Law, where I treated my classes like a job. I worked 10 hours a day and if I wasn't in class, I was in the library. I finished my year at USF at the top of my class and then transferred to UC Berkeley where I completed my degree."
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