written by: Winston Smith•edited by: Ronda Bowen•updated: 3/19/2011
What are the top five most profitable masters degrees? The answer includes the MBA, master of engineering, master of computer science and two others. Read the article to find the full list.
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Determining the Most Profitable Master's Degrees
If you are determined to advance your career, increase your salary and improve your standard of living, higher education can help a great deal. Assuming you have a college degree already and wish to study further, you may wonder, "What are the top five most profitable master's degrees?" Salary surveys by magazines, government agencies, universities and other sources have the answer to this question. Before you start filling in those online applications, check to see whether you need to take a standardized test like the GRE. If you have been out of college for several years, get ready to adjust to the expectations of the academic world.
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#1: Master of Business Administration (MBA)
The Master of Business Administration degree tends to lead to the highest pay of all master's degrees. Salary surveys of recent graduates have found that MBA degree holders can earn salaries between $80,000 to $120,000 per year soon after graduating. The best paid MBAs tend to be graduates of high prestige programs such as the Harvard Business School, Columbia or the Wharton School. In addition, the most highly paid MBAs usually work in the financial services (e.g. banking, investment banking, and securities firms) and management consulting.
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#2: Master of Engineering (M.Eng)
Engineers who enhance their abilities with a master's degree often earn high salaries. Engineering degrees also encourage specialization either in a traditional field (e.g. civil, electrical, computer, mechanical, and so forth) or in a combined field (e.g. a combination of engineering with health, innovation, business or management). Since engineers with master's degrees tend to take on leadership and management roles, these programs often emphasize these skills. A National Science Foundation survey found that engineers with a master's degree earned $50,000 to $71,000 a year depending on the field.
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#3: Computer Science
College graduates who major in computer science create new services, fuel the growth of the information economy and earn very good salaries. The good news only gets better for those that go on to earn a master's degree in computer science. As of April 2006, The National Science Foundation found the median salary for recent master's graduates in computer science to be $68,000 per year. Graduates of highly regarded universities such as Stanford may well earn more than the median salary.
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#4 Master's Degree in Nursing
Nurses seeking to advance their career prospects can earn more if they earn a Master's degree. For example, the nurse-midwife specialty has reported salaries from $65,000 to $120,000. Nursing salaries vary widely depending on geography. As a more general rule of thumb, nurses with greater medical responsibilities and skills with certifications such as Nurse Practitioner (NP), Advanced Practice Nurse (APN), and Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist tend to earn the highest salaries. If a career in the health field appeals to you, nursing is a well paid option to consider.
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#5 Master's in Economics
Once called the dismal science, economics is an important social science that explores financial, social, political and cultural questions. Economists work in banks, financial institutions, unions, government departments and other settings. The highest paid economists tend to hold PhD degrees but those with a master's degree earn high salaries as well. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found that "... the median annual wage and salary wages of economists were $83,590 in May 2008." Those who specialize in applied areas of economics such as financial economics may earn even more.
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If you are interested in learning more answers to the question, "what are the top five most profitable master's degrees?," consult these references to find further salary data and career outlook information.
Economists (Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-2011 Edition), http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos055.htm
Master's Nursing Programs (American Association of Colleges of Nursing), http://www.aacn.nche.edu/education/nurse_ed/msnarticle.htm
Recent Engineering and Computer Science Graduates Continue to Earn the Highest Salaries (National Science Foundation), http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/infbrief/nsf06303/
Table 2: Education and employment status, and median salary of recent graduates with master's degree in science, engineering and health, by major field of degree, April 2006, http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/nsf10318/pdf/tab02.pdf