Best Graduate Degrees worth the effort

There are many reasons people choose to go to graduate schools; make more money, having a better career, and educating themselves further to name a few of these reasons. Unfortunately, for most students, obtaining a graduate degree could mean taking out a huge loan – a huge burden especially if they have a significant debt from their undergraduate endeavors. Also, obtaining a graduate degree doesn’t always result in a great pay off. Yes, it is true that you enhance your chances of getting a high paying job but it might not be worth the time and effort if you are going to spend most of your salary on paying back thousands of dollars on your big loan. Plus, you have to keep in mind the fact that your field may not be of importance in the near future. Here are some areas that have the highest pay off values.

Note** Both masters and doctorate degrees are being takes into consideration for the purpose of this article; while the doctorate degree in the fields produce better overall payoffs, their masters counterparts are also of significant value.


Our need to consistently find ways to upgrade our standard of living always puts engineers in high demand; so chances of finding a great job are incredibly high. In fact, according to the data comprised by Payscale, different fields of engineering take up the top 9 of the top 10 most paying jobs for those with just the bachelor’s degree in engineering. Under the graduate degree programs, 5 different fields of engineering take up the top 10 spots. Having a masters or a doctorate in an engineering field can easily boost your value by $10-20K. Aside from the great pay-off, holding a graduate degree will also greatly enhance your chances of earning a managerial position on the projects you would embark on.

Petroleum, computer, electrical and computer, electrical, chemical, and biomedical are the top fields of engineering with the highest early and mid-career salaries for people with graduate degrees.

Business and Marketing

Business strategies and marketing are two components of practically all companies therefore people with high knowledge in these fields always do well from themselves. Related fields like Strategy, Entrepreneurship, Marketing management, Economics, Computer science, and Finance produce some of the highest paying jobs with the median mid-career salary roughly being between 125-145K; it is interesting to see that the data suggests significantly low early-career salaries – between (60-90K) – those are some serious gains that come with the job experience.

This is a great example of a field where having a graduate degree can make a significant difference in your value; the median salaries for different fields of business and marketing for those with bachelor’s degree range between 38-60k (both for early and mid-careers). Overall, there are plenty of jobs to be had in these areas so it’s both safe and rewarding.


Having a graduate degree is almost a must if you plan on leading the charge for the scientific research in your field. The catch, however, is that you have to finish a doctorate (not just the masters) in the science field for it to yield the most reward; but since you will be an expert in a specific field, the chances of you obtaining a great position will be high. Another great perk of being in this field is that it has some of the highest early-career salaries compared to many other fields; average being around (80-90K).

Various areas of computer, physics, and chemistry do especially well in the field of science.


Mathematics: Mathematicians with a higher degree are amongst the least unemployed people in this country as practically all science and technology related companies require their expertise. Tying up your bachelor’s degree in math and obtaining a graduate degree in a more specific area relating to engineering and/or sciences can significantly boost your value.

Accounting: The real purpose of having a graduate degree in accounting is to allow you to stand out amongst the very large competition and make more money doing so. There is a huge shortage of accountants in colleges and many colleges with respectable programs will easily pay well over $120,000 annually – for starting professors.

Nurse Anesthesia: This degree is ranked number 2 on the Payscale list and also has the highest early-career salary ($140K). An experienced Nurse Anesthetic can make anywhere between 150-220K. The best part about this program is that many universities offer competitive tuition rates; many have set up amazing programs allowing you to work in exchange for free tuition also.

Juris Doctorate (+MBA): Taking a standard Law degree to a whole another level heavily raises your chances of earning big bucks. Combing your law degree with another major allows you to appear more versatile and also saves you the time of having to attain them separately – most programs are packaged for 3-5 year span. However, this is a very difficult endeavor to pursue and should only be undertaken by people who can devote their entire lives to the purpose.

You should not feel upset if your choice of preferred field is not mentioned in this article; these are the best of best – plus, there is simply a much bigger demand for persons highly qualified in technology and science fields. We encourage you to check out the full list of Graduate Degrees by Salary Potential made by Payscale to see where your choice lands; maybe you will find a more suitable alternative option.

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