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Highest Paying Master’s Degrees: What are They & Their Salaries

highest paying master's degrees

Some Americans go to college for personal pleasure or other reasons. But most attend university precisely so that they qualify for higher-paying jobs. Have you thought of pursuing a specific master’s degree known for its lucrative career opportunities? Today, let’s look at some of the highest paying master’s degrees so you know what to choose for your goals.

Bachelor’s degrees typically result in higher lifetime earnings for those who acquire them. But master’s degrees result in even greater lifetime earnings. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median weekly earnings for bachelor’s degree holders is $1,305. Master’s degree holders earn approximately $1,545 per week. That’s not a lot on a weekly basis, but it adds up over time.

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Highest Paying Master’s Degrees

Those students who want to guarantee they have high salaries after graduation should consider the below degrees. Generally, a master’s degree results in a higher net salary over one’s lifetime. But some master’s degrees lead to higher average wages in the short and long term.

Master of Science in Nursing

Master of Science degrees in nursing are particularly lucrative educational opportunities. Why?

Graduates with these degrees can pursue all kinds of high-paying, nursing-related positions. Nursing is essential; practically every hospital or clinic needs several nurses. But while students don’t need master’s degrees to become nurses, they need them to acquire advanced nursing positions.

Master’s degrees open up opportunities; including nurse practitioners and nurse anesthetists. These positions require extra education and practical career experience due to their responsibilities. For instance, nurse anesthetists are registered nurses (RNs) with specialized education in anesthesiology. These professionals understand the science of using inhaled gasses and intravenous drugs to provide sedation to patients for surgeries. It’s a vital role, so nurses must train for longer and acquire unique credentials to qualify for this position.

Alternatively, those with master’s degrees in nursing can become nurse practitioners. Nurse practitioners are considered advanced RNs who do clinical work, perform health management tasks, and help treat diseases. They aren’t doctors but can provide patients with more direct recommendations and health guides.

In addition to a degree, all nurse practitioners must have extra clinical training. This requirement goes above and beyond what’s needed to become a standard RN. Many nurse practitioners also oversee nurses at the same clinic or hospital.

Students should consider master’s degrees in nursing as the next educational step for higher career opportunities in this industry. Nurse anesthetists earn approximately $202,000 each year. Meanwhile, nurse practitioners earn around $118,000 per year.

Master of Business Administration

Naturally, MBAs (or Masters of Business Administration) are one of the highest paying master’s degrees. They are an excellent choice for students who want to ensure they earn high salaries in the business world. MBAs are versatile degrees that include classes on subjects like:

  • How to run a business
  • Advanced business finances
  • How to lead business employees
  • Public speaking
  • How to direct business operations
  • And more

MBA degree holders qualify for all kinds of advanced or executive business positions. They can become CEOs, CFOs, project leaders, operations managers, and everything else. In addition, MBA degrees usually allow some element of specialization or customization.

For instance, students can specialize in their education by pursuing an MBA degree in finance, accounting, organizational leadership, and more. These studies make them well-suited for CFO positions at various firms and companies.

MBA degrees are great for future entrepreneurs and business owners, as well. Students attending high-quality MBA programs will learn everything they need about starting and running a business successfully.

Students can pursue many different careers with MBAs. Most of these careers lead to high salaries, such as:

  • Advertising, promotions, and marketing managers: These individuals serve as marketing leads for organizations and earn average wages of approximately $133,000 per year.
  • Human resources managers: Such professionals plan, coordinate, and direct various organizational functions. They typically head HR departments and handle hiring, firing, and interpersonal dispute processes as needed. They earn around $126,000 per year.
  • Sales managers: Individuals in this role are in charge of maximizing sales performance for companies. While they only need a bachelor’s degree, master’s degrees enable them to reach higher salary levels. Most sales managers earn $127,000 per year on average.
  • Top executives: Corporate leadership professionals earn average salaries of over $100,000 per year. These individuals may own their own companies or work for organizations that existed before their arrival.

Master of Science in Computer Science

Those with minds for computer science and information technology might pursue MS degrees in computer science. Masters in computer science are highly lucrative educational credentials that qualify graduates for many IT-related opportunities.

These advanced computer science degrees have classes on topics including but not limited to:

  • Computer architecture
  • Software development
  • Programming and networking
  • Organizational security
  • Computer language theory

Many computer science master’s programs require students to become experts in at least one programming language, although some graduates learn several. Depending on the program, MS degrees in computer science can include concentrations in artificial technology, security systems, computer science research, etc.

Importantly, these degrees qualify graduates for positions like:

  • Computer hardware engineers: Computer hardware engineers design the physical hardware and devices that comprise computer networks. For example, they may create servers or computer systems, which organizations use for various purposes. Computer hardware engineers earn approximately $128,000 per year.
  • Computer network architects: They are responsible for designing, building, and maintaining data communication networks. These communication platforms include intranets, local area networks, and wide-area networks. Computer network architects can work for the government, internet service providers or ISPs, or individual companies. Because their technological skills are in high demand, they earn over $120,000 a year on average.
  • Computer and information research scientists: These skilled researchers earn over $131,000 per year on average. In a nutshell, they develop innovative and creative uses for new and existing computer technology. They research new ways for computing devices to assist organizations and may help companies maximize their current computing capabilities.

Master of Public Administration

A Master of Public Administration degree is an excellent choice for future graduates who want to work at government agencies, nonprofits, or other institutions. In a nutshell, MPAs train students to:

  • Resolve challenges in interpersonal organizations
  • Analyze global or local problems depending on their places of employment
  • Focus on budget and financial issues and resolve them accordingly
  • Utilize fundraising principles
  • Promote urban planning
  • Use public relations communication strategies
  • Understand public utilities and waste management principles
  • And more

They’re versatile degrees that prepare students for many different positions. MPA graduates can become, for example:

  • Political scientists: Political scientists primarily work for federal and state governments. They have many job responsibilities, ranging from doing research and analysis to recommending actions for government officials. All political scientists use their education to study voting patterns, track public opinions, and perform other research tasks. Political scientists usually earn $122,000 per year or more.
  • Public relations and fundraising managers or specialists: With average pay totaling over $120,000 a year, these professionals help organizations maximize their PR status and responses. They may handle public relations crises, fundraise for politicians, or enable the government to present complex information to the public.

Master of Economics

A Master of Economics degree can be very worthwhile, especially for financially-minded students. These programs teach students how to apply qualitative and quantitative analyses to economic problems. These problems can affect many industries, from business to construction to politics.

MS in Economics students learn to review data and perform in-depth statistical analyses. Courses can include advanced calculations preparation, logical conclusion principles, and more. All graduates eventually develop powerful critical thinking and analytical skills.

These programs generally combine writing and communication skills and rely on teamwork. Therefore, while some MS in Economics degree programs are available online, many will require at least some in-person attendance.

Many graduates from these programs work for the federal government, consulting services, insurance or finance companies, and similar organizations. With this degree, graduates can earn positions such as:

  • Economist: Most economists work for schools, organizations, or the government. They study the economy, develop economic theories, and provide financial advising services. Average salaries in this career field are approximately $105,000 per year.
  • Financial economists: These are more specialized individuals who work for government organizations. They are closer to traditional accountants but use their in-depth knowledge of the economy to provide more wide-reaching and long-ranging predictions or advice. They earn approximately $105,000 per year on average.

Master of Finance

While similar to a Master of Economics, a Master of Finance degree is slightly different. It focuses explicitly on financing analysis and decision-making rather than studying the overall economy or economic systems and theories.

Graduates from Master of Economics degree programs should have the skills needed to pursue administrative or managerial roles in finance organizations, such as insurance companies or banks. Most of these programs focus on developing research, accounting, and communication skills. Graduate students take various courses in strategic management, macroeconomics, and corporate finance.

Ultimately, they are well-equipped to pursue corporate finance and investment careers. They can also work for private wealth management firms or accounting organizations. Examples of jobs for degree holders include:

  • Finance directors: These professionals handle the finances of large companies. For example, they can look at a company’s books and financial records and determine whether it is headed for good financial waters or needs to correct course. They earn average salaries of $132,000 per year.
  • Chief financial officers or CFOs: These make up the top leadership personnel of many companies. In many cases, they advise the CEO and other significant executives so that businesses make the right financial decisions for the company’s well-being. CFOs earn over $100,000 a year.
  • Financial managers: These are similar to finance directors for companies. But financial managers may run complete financing departments and have a more in-depth role in the day-to-day operations of those departments. They earn around $130,000 a year.

Master of Engineering

A master's degree in engineering is another excellent idea for graduates who want to maximize their salary earnings. M.Eng. programs can vary heavily between different universities. These are not the same as Master of Science in Engineering degrees, which are more broadly focused.

Master of Engineering degrees, in contrast, provide more technical training to students. In this way, graduates are better prepared to practically apply their skills to industries or jobs immediately after graduation. Students of these degrees may need to acquire doctoral degrees if they want to enter a research-heavy career in the future.

A Master of Engineering degree is specialized and professional, whereas an MS in Engineering is not. All students of Master of Engineering programs must declare and pursue a specialty area. These specialty concentrations allow them to qualify for specific positions or industries. Examples of specialties include aerospace, operations research, material science, and computer science.

Graduates with these degrees can pursue positions such as:

  • Director of Engineering: These professionals are responsible for leading engineering departments for firms. They may help develop new engineering solutions, oversee engineering operations and processes, and ensure that their engineering departments run smoothly. They earn around $152,000 per year.
  • Senior chemical engineer: These individuals run chemical processing plants or oversee teams of chemists. Senior chemical engineers can find employment in pharmaceutical companies, industrial plants, medical companies, and various other organizations. They may develop new chemical solutions or drugs or help analyze chemical performance for other purposes. They earn approximately $105,000 per year.

Master of Physics

A master’s degree in physics could be an excellent choice for students who want to earn high salaries in the long term. It doesn’t result in a ton of money upfront. Still, it eventually leads to high salaries in collaborative teaching and research positions.

Indeed, many physics degree holders double as professors and professional researchers or laboratory assistants in other capacities. Master’s in physics degrees train students in physics research’s deep philosophies and techniques. They also prepare students to earn other educational credentials, such as doctoral degrees, in the same field.

A master’s degree could lead to jobs like:

  • Physicist: Physicists work for private research firms, the government, and various other organizations. They do research, conduct experiments, and ensure that highly technical or sensitive equipment works appropriately for specific needs. They earn around $147,000 a year.
  • Physics professors: These professors may not make a lot of money initially. Still, they can eventually earn quite a lot if they acquire tenure at a good university and teach there for a long time. Physics professors can expect salaries averaging around $79,000 per year.

Master of Science in Physician Assistant

Physician assistants or PAs are highly trained professionals who must acquire a master’s degree to become PAs in the first place. In a nutshell, PAs perform many of the same functions as licensed physicians. However, they work under the supervision of doctors until they earn their own licenses or acquire another degree.

PAs perform many vital medical tasks for hospitals or clinics. For example, they:

  • Perform examinations on patients
  • Provide vaccinations
  • Prepare patients for surgeries
  • Set broken bones
  • Prescribed medications
  • And more

It all depends on what the medical facility in question needs. Physician assistants enjoy stable career fields and high salaries that average around $121,000 a year.

All graduates who wish to become PAs must pursue a specific physician assistant master’s degree. One cannot become a PA with any other master’s degree. These degree programs have an in-person, practical component where the student receives training in PA techniques. Even online PA programs require students to attend in-person sessions at clinics near their homes.

Master of Science in Mathematics

Some students may wish to pursue a Master of Science in Mathematics. These degrees are perfect for those who love to work with numbers. Most degree holders become professors in the field. However, they may also work for a variety of other organizations. These include engineering and tech companies, private research firms, and the federal government.

Many mathematics graduates work in applied mathematics. This field has a lot of real-world value in business, engineering, and computer science industries. Some MS in Mathematics degrees allow students to specialize in statistics, risk assessment, or mathematical data. Such specializations further prepare students for jobs in those fields.

Examples of jobs for mathematics majors include:

  • Statistician: Statisticians do in-depth statistical analyses for the government or organizations. They can also become teachers. Most statisticians make approximately $96,000 a year.
  • Mathematicians: These trained professionals often double as college professors while carrying out research into mathematics. Their salaries vary wildly, but many mathematicians earn approximately $96,000 a year.

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Master of Psychology

A master's degree in psychology trains the graduate to understand more about the human mind and its workings. Graduate training furthers the knowledge gained through bachelor’s degrees in the same field. However, master’s degrees in psychology do not qualify one to become a psychiatrist. Psychiatrists are licensed doctors who can prescribe medications.

To summarize, those with a master’s in psychology can work as assistants to psychiatrists. They can also teach psychology at colleges or work as counselors for schools. According to the BLS, the average salary for a psychologist is approximately $81,000 per year.

How To Know Whether a Master’s is Worthwhile

As you can see above, many master’s degrees lead to higher average salaries than their bachelor’s-level counterparts. However, it can still be challenging to know whether a given graduate program is worthwhile.

Generally, it’s a good idea to look at what careers a master’s degree prepares students for before signing up for the program. That way, you can know:

  • What jobs you’ll be able to pursue after getting your degree
  • What your career trajectory will look like in the future
  • How much you can expect to earn over your professional lifetime

For example, a master’s degree in psychology does not immediately lead one to assume that they’ll make much more money than average. However, that master’s degree opens up further opportunities to earn a professional certificate and doctoral degree to become a psychiatrist. Psychiatrists make lots of money, but you can only become one if you have a prerequisite master’s degree.

Find Accredited Online Master’s Programs Now

Generally, any master’s degree should result in higher lifetime earnings for you, no matter your career. But the right master’s degree can skyrocket your salary, allowing you greater financial freedom and flexibility.

Of course, you must attend the right master’s program to see that salary quickly. Luckily, you can participate in quality online master’s programs from various accredited universities. GetEducated’s online school catalog can help you find the right master’s degree that pays well for your goals in no time.

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