Best-Paying and Worst-Paying Master’s Degrees

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, 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

2. Master’s in Finance

3. Master’s in Chemical Engineering

4. Master’s in Economics

5. Master’s in Physics

6. Master’s in Computer Science

7. Master’s in Mechanical Engineering

8. Master’s in Civil Engineering

9. Master’s in Physician Assistant Studies

10. Master’s in Management Information Systems

Five Worst-Paying Master’s Degrees

1. Master’s in Counseling

2. Master’s in Social Work

3. Master’s in Music

4. Master’s in Library and Information Science

5. Master’s in Education

Source: All salary data provided by online salary database Salaries are based on mid-career median pay. Median pay is based on annual salary plus any bonuses, profit sharing, tips, commissions and other forms of cash earnings. It does not include equity compensation, cash value of retirement benefits or the value of other noncash benefits (e.g., health insurance). A mid-career worker is one with at least 10 years of experience. For workers in this data set, the typical mid-career employee is 43 years old and has about 15 years of experience.