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Starting Salaries for Master's Degree Graduates

Posted by Alan J. McMillan on Mon, Nov 02, 2015 @ 08:30 AM

Starting Salaries for Graduate Students

NACE has published its Fall Salary Survey and here are the median starting salaries for those with a master’s degree by major. These are NOT estimates; this is real data from hiring companies reporting back to NACE.

As with all other salary information, the salary itself does not tell the whole story on earnings. If you are contemplating pursuing a master’s degree for your next step, know the following elements must be considered:

  1. What can you do with that master’s degree?
  2. How long and how difficult will it be to secure employment?
  3. Then the compensation itself. 

Median Starting Salaries for Master’s Students by Academic Major:

  • Natural Resources: $39,817
    • Natural resources Conservation and Research: $57,200
  • Architecture and Related Services: $38,917
    • Architecture: $38,917
  • Communications, Journalism, and Related Programs: $53,750
    • Communication and Media Studies: $33,667
    • Journalism: $42,000
  • Computer and Information Sciences and Support Services: $81,563
    • Computer and Information Sciences: $74,500
    • Computer Science: $81,563
  • Education: $47,500
    • Special Education and Teaching: $45,000
    • Teacher Education and Professional Development, Specific levels and Methods: $38,733
    • Teacher Education and Professional Development, Specific Subject Areas: $47,750
  • Engineering: $71,620
    • Aerospace, Aeronautical and Astronautically Engineering: $79,667
    • Architectural Engineering: $57,128
    • Chemical Engineering: $67,900
    • Civil Engineering: $59,250
    • Computer Engineering: $83,583
    • Electrical, Electronic and Communications Engineering: $75,364
    • Environmental/Environmental Health Engineering: $54,338
    • Mechanical Engineering: $73,876
    • Mining and Mineral Engineering: $71,571
    • Petroleum Engineering: $90,000
    • Industrial Engineering: $65,000
    • Geological/Geophysical Engineering: $102,984
  • Engineering Technologies: $59,250
    • No individual data reported
  • Foreign Languages, Literatures, and Linguistics: $39,500
    • No individual data reported
  • Family and Consumer Sciences/Human Sciences: $45,000
    • No individual Data Reported
  • English Language and Literature/Letters: $42,500
    • Rhetoric and Composition/Writing Studies: $52,500
  • Liberal Arts and Sciences, General Studies and Humanities: $45,444
    • No individual data reported
  • Biological and Biomedical Sciences: $53,407
    • Physiology, Pathology, and Related Sciences: $42,500
  • Mathematics and Statistics: $57,500
    • Mathematics: $40,000
    • Statistics: $62,500
  • Multi/Interdisciplinary Studies: $43,000
    • Nutritional Sciences: $43,000
  • Parks, Recreation, Leisure, and Fitness Studies: $36,500
    • Health and Physical Education/Fitness: $35,000
  • Physical Sciences: $45,250
    • Geological and Earth Sciences/Geosciences: $53,000
  • Psychology: $52,500
    • Psychology: $52,500
  • Homeland Security, Law Enforcement, Firefighting and Related Protective Services: $35,000
    • No individual data to report
  • Public Administration and Social Services Professions: $39,955
    • Public Administration: $52,150
    • Social Work: $37,500
  • Social Sciences: $37,685
    • Geography and Cartography: $38,250
    • International Relations and National Security Studies: $45,092
  • Visual and Performing Arts: $38,335
    • Visual and Performing Arts: $41,000
    • Music: $35,000
    • Arts, Entertainment, and Media Management: $48,334
  • Health Professions and Related Programs: $ 61,375
    • Communications Disorders Sciences and Services: $50,267
    • Health and Medial Administrative Service: $55,000
    • Allied Health Diagnostic, Intervention, & Treatment Professions: $87,592
    • Public Health: $52,500
    • Registered Nursing: $85,000
  • Business, Management, Marketing, and Related Support Services: $55,000
    • Business Administration, Management and Operations: $56,250
    • Accounting and Related Services: $55,000
    • Finance and Financial Management Service: $60,000
    • Human Resources Management and Services: $55,403
    • Management Information Systems and Services: $73,378
    • Marketing: $71,875 

A Word of Caution

If you are pursuing a master’s degree because you either need it to secure you next career step or because you need it for your personal confidence and esteem, OK. But if you are considering a master’s degree because you cannot find a job in your chosen field, make sure you don’t amplify your employment problem by accumulating more debt. Be honest with the ‘why’ question. Job search is a critical skill that we all must master.

Finally, Your Financial Future

There is a real cost to securing an advanced degree:

  1. Tuition and expenses for the degree itself,
  2. A year or two where you are not working and learning in your field. Those who are working are gaining valuable experience and accumulating accomplishments that boost their hire-ability,
  3. Generally, you are spending and not saving while you are getting an advanced degree. That means you are not funding your long-term financial independence. The early years will be greatly amplified by the passage of time (time value of money). It is expensive to postpone deposits toward your eventual financial independence. 

IF the advanced degree itself boosts earning and employability, all will be well but know you have to make up early for those lost years. Now you have the data to sort that one through.

Your degree will generally get you your first job, after that, it’s nearly always your track record and accomplishments.

Good luck.

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Topics: Financial Independence, starting salaries