Highest paying master’s degree in the US to boost your earning potential

Roles such as petroleum engineering can come with lucrative salaries.

By U2B Staff 

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Will you earn more with a postgraduate degree? A master’s or a PhD is a big financial and emotional investment. In many instances, a postgraduate degree like an MBA can boost your earning potential and qualify you for a wide range of career opportunities across different industries. 

Numerous reports across the world suggest that postgraduate study does have its benefits, including helping individuals gain new skills and specialised knowledge. 


UK think-tank Higher Education Policy Institute’s (HEPI) report, Postgraduate Education in the UK, notes that postgraduate degree holders tend to attain substantially higher salaries than those with undergraduate degrees six months after graduation — on average 18% more.

It’s worth noting that this difference is not due to the postgraduate qualification alone — postgraduate qualifiers tend to be older, and those who did not go directly into postgraduate study after completing their first degree will usually have gained work experience, which are also highly valued by employers.

Your earning potential soars with a master’s education

“The salaries of part-time postgraduates tend to be much higher after graduation, since many are already in work and seeking relevant qualifications to further their careers and/or add skills needed in their workplaces. In many cases, such students are funded by their employers, and career-specific postgraduate qualifications quickly translate into promotions and salary raises,” said the report.

Three-and-a-half years down the line, the median salary for postgraduates is £32,000, compared to £26,000 for first degree leavers. Meanwhile, former postgraduates are more likely to be earning over £30,000, and much more likely to be earning over £50,000.


In the US, data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows that those with a master’s professional degree or doctorate earn more than those with only an undergraduate degree. Those with a master’s can earn roughly US$250 more per week than those with a bachelor’s degree, and have a lower unemployment rate.

In Australia, PayScale notes that the average worker with a bachelor’s degree is AU$75,613; a MSc qualification under your belt can help you rake in an average of AU$82,806.

Master’s degrees that pay handsomely

Job search platform Indeed notes the following as among the best master’s degrees that pay the most in the US:

Health care administration

If you’re keen on carving yourself a career in healthcare management and executive positions, a master of healthcare administration can be a useful area of study. Depending on the programme, you may only need minimal health care management experience to pursue the programme, which can prepare you to pursue management positions in health care settings. Healthcare managers can earn an average salary of US$73,531 per year in the US.


The World Economic Forum (WEF) notes that sales, marketing, and content are among the professions of the future to look out for. Among the roles in this cluster includes Digital Marketing Manager. A master in marketing or an MBA programme with a marketing concentration can prepare you for roles as a marketing manager or director.

The average annual salary for a marketing manager is US$71,248 and US$97,434 per year for a director of marketing.


Computer science

A postgraduate degree in computer science will give you a strong foundation in the fundamentals of computer science and practical software development skills; depending on the programme, you may or may not need a relevant undergraduate qualification to apply. A postgraduate degree in this field can qualify you for a range of roles, including information systems manager (US$92,812 per year). 

Petroleum engineering

Engineers in the oil and gas sector are often handsomely paid. Indeed notes that petroleum engineers design extraction methods for crude oil or natural gas development and production. A MSc Petroleum Engineering can equip you with the knowledge and skills needed for the modern petroleum industry. The average annual salary for a petroleum engineer is US$78,075; those who rise up the ranks to become an engineering manager can rake in US$128,754 per year.