Going to graduate school is a big decision. Most people have to take out student loans, plus they pause their income for a year or more. Is a grad degree worth so much of your time and money? One way to decide is to look at the salary you can expect to make after graduation.
The 10 degrees below all have an excellent return on investment. Graduates with these degrees go into professions with a median salary of $100K or more. With that pay, you’ll make back your grad school investment in no time!
If you’re looking for the best graduate degrees that lead to high income, read on for 10 profitable options.
Best graduate degrees for a salary of $100K or more
1. Master of Business Administration (MBA) with a focus on computer and information systems
With a business school degree and concentration in computer and information systems, you could go on to become a Computer and Information Systems Manager. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual pay for this occupation in 2015 was $131,600.
What’s more, employment for IT managers is expected to grow 15 percent over the next eight years. IT managers coordinate computer systems and set information technology goals in an organization. Most people have their Bachelor’s in computer science or a related field before going to grad school.
2. Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS), Doctor of Dental Medicine (DDM), or Doctor of Medical Dentistry (DMD)
I don’t know anyone who enjoys going to the dentist, but the experience is probably more enjoyable from the other side. If you’re interested in keeping teeth and gums healthy, then you should consider studying to become a dentist.
You’ll need to take the Dental Admission Test (DAT). Most students have a science-related undergraduate major. In grad school, you’ll study areas like local anesthesia, anatomy, and radiology, as well as work under a licensed dentist.
After four years of study, you can move into a profession with a median salary of $158,310 per year. BLS predicts that the field will grow by 18 percent from now until 2024.
3. MBA, Master’s in Finance, or Master’s in Economics
We’re only at number three on the list and already another MBA! Business school degrees can definitely be lucrative. With this degree, many students go on to become financial managers.
Financial managers work in various industries, like banks and insurance companies. They set financial goals for an organization and develop strategies to meet them. In so doing, they make a median salary of $177,990 per year.
4. Juris Doctor (J.D.)
The value of a law degree is complicated. There are wide pay discrepancies between fields. Plus, employment can be competitive with more and more law graduates every year. According to the New York Times, you’ll have the best chances of employment if you attend a top-ranked law school.
That being said, the median annual salary for lawyers is $115,820. If you’re considering law school, check out employment stats from your school and the American Bar Organization. That way, you can get a clearer sense of the return on investment of your law degree.
5. Masters in Mathematics or PhD in Mathematics
Are you good with numbers? By getting an advanced degree in math, you could work as a mathematician in the government or a private company. Some people go on to become university professors. Overall, mathematicians can expect a median annual salary of $111,110.
6. Master of Science in Nursing
As an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN), you could become a nurse anesthetist, nurse midwife, or nurse practitioner. Beyond a Master’s degree, you’ll need to get licensed in your state and pass a certification exam. These three professions are expected to grow 31 percent in the next few years. Advanced practice nurses make a median salary of $104,740 each year.
7. Doctor of Optometry (OD)
Optometrists keep your eyes healthy and treat and manage eye diseases and disorders. Plus, they prescribe glasses or contacts to keep people’s vision 20/20. As an optometrist, you can expect a median annual salary of $103,900.
8. Medical Doctor (M.D.) degree
Medical school will cost you a pretty penny, but it will also lead to a well-paying and fulfilling career. Physicians and surgeons make a median annual salary of $187,200 each year, or $90 an hour.
In medical school, you’ll choose a specialty, whether it’s general practice, surgery, or pediatrics. To become a doctor, you’ll likely go through four years of medical school and then spend three to seven years in a residency program.
9. Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D) degree
Did you know your friendly neighborhood pharmacist is raking in $121,500 per year? To dispense prescription medications, you need to get your Pharm.D degree from a four-year program. You’ll also need to pass two exams for licensure.
10. Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (DPM) degree
Last but not least is the Doctor of Podiatric Medicine degree. By specializing in medical care for feet, ankles, and legs, you could make $119,340 per year as a podiatrist. After your degree, you’ll complete a three-year residency program and take an exam for licensure.
How to find the best graduate degrees for you
Graduate school is a major investment of your time, money, and energy. Before taking the leap, you should consider the rate of return. What are your job prospects after graduation? Will your first-year salary be greater than the debt you take on? How will you pay back your student loans once (or even before) the grace period ends?
Even if these 10 best graduate degrees aren’t right for you, they should get you thinking about your salary prospects. You want a grad degree that will advance your career or help you launch a new one. With this clear vision, you can go on to get a specialized degree in your field of choice.
Want to learn more about return on investment? Check out this great article with advice on choosing a graduate school program. If you’re unsure about grad school, check out this guide on how to decide by asking yourself three questions.
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