Which College Degrees Pay the Most?

highest-paid-college-degreesAccording to CNN, majoring in petroleum engineering at Harvey Mudd can really pay off: as mid-career graduates earn a median salary of $126,000. The data came from a survey that tracked 999 bachelor degree programs and defined mid-career as more than ten years of experience.

The next most lucrative majors are aerospace engineering and chemical engineering, followed by electrical engineering. “Our society values something practical — that’s why poetry isn’t popping up on the top of the list,” said Al Lee, director of quantitative analysis at PayScale. “As in the past, engineering and [similar] fields with a strong math component plus a physical world component remain on the top, with lots of money to be made in these fields.”

Dartmouth College has claimed the highest-paid alums for the past two years. Many of their graduates work in finance, and the economy’s impact on Wall Street has dropped their earnings to second place. Dartmouth and Princeton are tied with grads earning $123,000 at mid-career. Harvard grads earn $121,000 and California Institute of Technology earn $120,000. Colgate, MIT, Stanford, Duke and Bucknell complete the list of universities with the highest paid graduates.

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8 Responses to “Which College Degrees Pay the Most?”

  1. cpascal says:

    Becoming an actuary also gives you a very well-paid career, and you don’t need a graduate degree to become one.

  2. pb says:

    These degrees are also associated with careers with a lot more upward mobility; families advising students should talk seriously about what that means.

  3. Bunny says:

    I come across so many kids who think everything will “just work out,” and don’t know that there can be a tremendous salary difference between fields of endeavor which SEEM the same unless one does very specific homework.

  4. NancyB says:

    I do think it’s important to know what different fields pay. But I think that knowledge has to be factored in with what you know you love. If you are lucky enough to be able to do what you love, you are compensated constantly. You will also be able to thrive and grow and contribute–and that is a huge career boost. I believe people only become great when they’re in love with their work.


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