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When a master's = more money: 10 fields in which a graduate degree really pays off

Given the time and money it takes to earn a bachelor's degree, investing in graduate education can seem like a risky investment. However, many graduate degree career paths ultimately pay off in the form of serious income gains.

We compiled a list of 10 different career paths based on some of the highest-paying bachelor's degrees by salary potential, and the data shows that earning a graduate degree can yield as much as a 61% pay increase per year for the same major.




A nurse practitioner or nursing systems management degree can open up entirely new opportunities in this growing profession.

  • Bachelor's: $57,500 beginner's salary
  • Master's: 41% increase to $74,100

Systems engineering

Many careers on this list are, unsurprisingly, related to engineering—and jobs in this high-demand field tend to come with high salaries as well. Systems engineering is no exception.

  • Bachelor's: $66,400 beginner's salary
  • Master's: 50% increase to $121,000

Computer science and math

Like engineering, computer-related skills are in high demand, so it should come as no surprise that highly trained experts are needed in this field.

  • Master's: 33.5% increase to $84,800
  • Bachelor's: $63,500 beginner's salary

Marketing and international business

There is a range of things you can do with a marketing degree, and an international business focus further widens these opportunities.

  • Bachelor's: $45,400 beginner's salary
  • Master's: 39% increase to $94,800

Electrical and communications engineering

Electrical and communications engineering is one of many specific focuses within the broad engineering field.

  • Bachelor's: $68,000 beginner's salary
  • With a master's in telecommunications: 9.11% increase to $74,200

Management science

This is just one example of the numerous graduate degree career paths that lead to lucrative positions in business management.

  • Bachelor's: $57,200 beginner's salary
  • Master's: 46% increase to $95,000


A master’s degree in education will yield a higher salary for elementary and secondary school teaching jobs and open up opportunities at colleges and universities.

  • Bachelor's: $37,800 beginner's salary
  • Master's: 61% increase to $63,700

Computer engineering

Computers and engineering are two highly valued parts of modern society, making the development of electronics an important and prosperous career.

  • Bachelor's: $69,600 beginner's salary
  • Master's: 24.6% increase to $86,700

Chemical engineering

With an impressive salary already associated with a bachelor’s degree in this field, graduate-level chemical engineers still get a modest increase in wages.

  • Bachelor's: $69,800 beginner's salary
  • Master's: 4.37% increase to $73,100

Computer science and engineering

At the interface of two of the most sought-after skills in the modern world, people with graduate degrees in computer science and engineering see one of the highest salary percentage increases as compared to their undergraduate counterparts.

  • Bachelor's: $71,200 beginner’s salary
  • Master's: 34.7% increase to $95,900

Making an investment in graduate-level education may seem daunting, but if you plan well, taking this leap can most certainly pay off and be well worth the risk.

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