Popular Master's Courses • Postgraduate

Top 5 Highest-Paid Master’s Degrees in the World

POSTED ON 11/27/2023 BY The Red Pen

Student happy after graduation

According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), individuals with Master’s degrees tend to earn higher salaries than those with Bachelor’s degrees. In the US, on average, in 2022, workers with a Master’s degree earned a median weekly wage of $1,545, while those with a Bachelor’s degree earned $1,248 per week. This significant difference in earnings reflects the added value and expertise that a Master’s degree brings. However, not all Master’s degrees are equal in our current economic environment. This article will focus on five of the highest paid Master’s degrees and why you should consider them as you continue to climb the career ladder.

DegreeAverage Salary per year in the USTypical Career
Master of Science in Economics$115,000Economist, Statistician, Data Scientist
Master of Science in  Engineering (MSE or MScEng)$114,000Chemical Engineer, Civil Engineer, Mechanical Engineer
Master of Science in Computer Science (MSc in Computer Science)$110,000Systems Architect, Software Developer, Cybersecurity
Master of Finance$123,429Investment Banking, Financial Services, Analysts
Master of Nursing $102,982Nurse Practitioner, Public Health Specialist, Clinical Research

Source: PayScale and Glassdoor.

Disclaimer: It’s important to note salary potential can vary significantly based on experience, location, and industry demand. 

Master of Science in Economics

A Master of Science in Economics is a postgraduate degree programme. It equips individuals with an in-depth understanding of financial markets, government policies, and economic systems through theoretical knowledge, quantitative methods, and research skills. This advanced degree delves deeper into economic concepts and principles than an undergraduate programme, incorporating more extensive mathematics, including courses in statistics and econometrics.

According to a graduate outcome survey by HESA, graduates from the London School of Economics (LSE) hold economist positions in various national and international organisations, including institutions like Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, and the IMF. About one-third of recent MSc in Economics at LSE have been accepted into top programmes worldwide, including MIT, Princeton, Stanford, and others.

A full-time programme typically lasts up to two years, while a part-time programme allows working professionals to continue studying on a flexible schedule. The best countries to pursue a Master’s in Economics are the US, UK, and Europe. 

Some of the leading graduate schools in the US for this programme are Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University, Princeton University, and the University of California Berkeley Haas School of Business

In the UK, institutions that rank high for their economics programmes include Cambridge University, Oxford University, St. Andrews University, and Warwick University. In Europe, some of the most sought-after institutions for economics are Copenhagen Business School – CBS (Denmark), Nova School of Business and Economics – Universidade Nova de Lisboa (Portugal), and Universitá Bocconi Graduate School (Italy)

Careers for those with an MSc in Economics include:

  • Market Researcher
  • Data Scientist
  • Consultant
  • Budget Analyst
  • Policy Analyst
  • Statistician

Master of Science in Engineering 

A Master of Science in Engineering, abbreviated in the UK as MSC or MScEng and MS or MEng in the US, is a graduate programme focusing on advanced studies and research in various engineering disciplines or specialisations such as chemical, biological, civil, electrical, materials, mechanical engineering and others. There are numerous sub-categories of engineering within these areas. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects employment growth for these workers, with nearly 140,000 new jobs expected for engineers over the 2016–26 decade. The median annual wage of engineers in the US is approximately $97,000. A significant population tends to pursue electrical and mechanical engineering, but new engineering fields are projected to grow as AI becomes a fixture in the post-Covid era. 

The MSE or MScEng provides students with in-depth knowledge, skills, and expertise in a specific branch of engineering, enabling them to excel in technical roles, research, and innovation. Some of the top choices for engineers are the US, Canada, Germany, Australia and the UK. India has competitive engineering programmes at the Indian Institute of Technology. Full-time degrees are typically two years, although the UK offers one-year programmes.

Some of the choices for a Master’s degree in engineering are the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) for Aeronautical Engineering, Stanford University for Bioengineering, California Institute of Technology (Caltech) for Mechanical Engineering, ETH Zurich for Electrical Engineering and the University of Cambridge for Nuclear Energy. Note that engineering programmes in the UK are typically MPhil or MRes courses and not MSc.  

Engineers have the most diverse possible careers in academia, experimental science, design and development. Even today, they tend to be some of the highest-paid people in the world. For example, the median pay for an aerospace engineer is $126,880.

Careers for graduates with an MSc in Engineering include: 

  • Aeronautics
  • Biomedicine
  • Software design 
  • Textiles 
  • Construction
  • Sustainable transportation
  • Space exploration 
  • Artificial intelligence 

Master of Science in Computer Science 

MS/MSc in Computer Science deepens students’ understanding of computer science concepts by providing them with the skills necessary to excel in various roles within the technology industry. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that employment in computer and information technology will experience faster growth than other occupations from 2022 to 2032. This growth is expected to result in approximately 377,500 job openings per year. As of May 2022, the median annual wage for individuals in these occupations was $100,530, which notably exceeded the median yearly wage for all occupations, set at $46,310. The average salary for a Machine Learning Engineer in the US is $152,812.

MS/MSc in Computer Science covers various topics, including computer programming, algorithms and data structures, operating systems, artificial intelligence, machine learning, coding languages, networks and cybersecurity, software engineering and computer architecture. Skills developed include programming proficiency, problem-solving, algorithm design, data analysis, and the ability to work on complex software projects.

Countries known for their MS in Computer Science programmes are the US, Canada, Germany, Australia and the United Kingdom. India also offers excellent courses. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Harvard University, California Institute of Technology (Caltech), Stanford University and University of California (UC) Berkeley are best known for their master’s programmes in computer science. Selecting a graduate school near a technology hub is always a good idea. For instance, UC Berkeley is close to Silicon Valley.

Computer science has several interesting specialisations and research opportunities. Johns Hopkins University offers a Master’s in Artificial Intelligence,  MIT offers a Master of Engineering in Computer Science and Molecular Biology, and Stanford University offers a Master of Science in Computer Science with a Specialisation in Human-Computer Interaction.

Careers for graduates with an MSc in Computer Science include: 

  • Artificial intelligence
  • Bioinformatics
  • Cloud computing
  • Computer graphics
  • Cybersecurity
  • Data Science
  • Electrical engineering
  • Human-computer interaction
  • Machine learning
  • Software engineering
  • Robotics

Master of Finance 

A Master of Finance provides advanced education and specialised training in finance. The degree is often titled Master in Finance (M. Fin., MiF, MFin), Master of Science in Finance (MSF in the US, and MSc in Finance in the UK and Europe. It covers various topics, including investments, financial analysis, risk management, corporate finance, and financial markets. This degree equips students with the knowledge and skills needed for careers in finance, investment banking, asset management, financial analysis, and other related fields. It often includes coursework in quantitative analysis, financial modelling, and portfolio management, preparing graduates for roles that require a deep understanding of financial markets and decision-making.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in the financial field will grow by 15 percent in 2029 — translating to over 700,000 added jobs in the marketplace. By pursuing an advanced degree, you can aim for lucrative careers in financial management, personal finance and derivatives trading. The median salary of these positions in the US is approximately $134,180.

In the UK, according to QS Top Universities 2023, some of the leading universities to pursue a master’s in finance are London School of Economics, Cambridge Judge, Imperial College Business School and Warwick Business School. In Europe, HEC Paris offers a Master’s in International Finance, ESSEC Business School has a Master of Finance degree and Bocconi University, Italy has an MSc in Finance.

In the US and Canada, it is important to note that some universities offer PhDs, a Master of Financial Engineering (MFE) or a Master of Science in Finance. For example,  MIT Sloan School of Business, USC Marshall School of Business and the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School offer a Master of Finance. In contrast, Columbia Business School offers a PhD in Finance. While New York University offers a Master’s in Global Finance and a PhD in Finance. UCLA Anderson School of Management has a PhD programme in Finance and a Master of Financial Engineering (MFE). Similarly, Berkeley Haas School of Business offers a PhD programme in Finance and a Master of Financial Engineering (MFE)

Careers for graduates with a Master of Finance include:

  • Financial analysis
  • Investment banking
  • Portfolio management
  • Risk management
  • Corporate finance
  • Asset management 
  • Financial consulting
  • Quantitative analysis

Master of Nursing 

There are several types of master’s degrees in nursing, each catering to various career paths within the field. Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) programmes are for clinical roles, while a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) is for non-clinical positions like teaching, administration or research. Some nurses pursue dual master’s degrees, combining MSN with another master’s degree in business administration, public health and healthcare administration. Standalone programmes like the Master’s of Healthcare Administration (MHA) and MBA in Healthcare Management are also available. 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, registered nursing is expected to experience a six percent growth in employment from 2022 to 2032. This projection anticipates an annual average of approximately 193,100 job openings for registered nurses over the decade. In May 2022, the median annual wage for registered nurses in the US was $81,220. The median annual wage for nursing assistants was $35,760, while for orderlies, it was $34,520 during the same period.

The duration of a Master of Nursing programme depends on several factors, including the specialisation, the student’s prior education, and whether they choose to attend full-time or part-time. It typically takes anywhere from one to three years to complete. Students selecting accelerated programmes can complete the programme in 12 to 18 months. Specialised tracks can also affect the length of the programme. For example, becoming a nurse practitioner may require more extensive training than a specialisation in nursing education.

Students learn advanced nursing theory and practice, develop specialised clinical expertise, and acquire leadership and management skills. They gain proficiency in evidence-based practice, health promotion, and disease prevention, refine clinical assessment and communication skills, and navigate ethical and legal considerations in healthcare. Depending on their chosen specialisation, students may also focus on advanced clinical skills, research, healthcare policy, or education, preparing them for roles in advanced patient care, healthcare leadership, research, and education, all while fostering cultural competence to provide inclusive and patient-centred care. 

There is a critical shortage of nurses in the UK, Germany and the United States for home healthcare aides, elderly care, and medical assistants, leading to a high demand for those with a Master of Nursing degree. 

Some of the best countries for pursuing a nursing career are Sweden, the US, the UK, Australia, Germany and Canada. Nevertheless, it’s important to emphasise that students should pursue a nursing degree in the country where they plan to work. Johns Hopkins University, Duke University, University of Pennsylvania and Emory University are among the best programmes in the US. King’s College London, University of Heidelberg, and Karolinska Institutet, Sweden, are highly favoured European programmes. The latter is primarily known for its quality healthcare education, emphasising research and practice.

Careers for graduates with Master of Nursing include:

  • Nursing Consultant 
  • Research Nurse
  • Nurse Educator
  • Nurse Administrator
  • Advanced Nurse Practitioner
  • Clinical Nurse Specialist

While choosing a master’s programme, aligning your decision with your career goals and aspirations is essential. Consider your interests, strengths, and the industries or sectors that resonate most. You may also read our blogs on secrets to acing applications at top graduate schools and how to put together a master’s application. If you’re unsure which master’s programme aligns best with your goals, please get in touch. Our postgraduate admissions counsellors look forward to assisting you.