Highest Paying Doctorate Degrees [2021 Guide]

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We've identified the 25 highest paying doctorate degrees. Compare salaries and job prospects.

We’ve identified the 25 highest paying doctorate degrees. Compare salaries and job prospects.

Highest Paying Doctorate Degrees

Completing a PhD may open up doors in terms of career advancement. Plus, it may not take as long as you think to complete if you enroll in the shortest doctoral programs.

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The following list contains the highest paying doctorate degrees along with career outlook and job growth statistics.

25 Highest Paying Doctorate Degrees

All career statistics and salary data are provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Click on the area of study you’re interested in to jump to that section.

  1. Immunology
  2. Physics
  3. Aerospace Engineering
  4. Math
  5. Management
  6. Chemical Engineering
  7. Economics
  8. Pharmacology
  9. Business Administration
  10. Cybersecurity
  11. Electrical Engineering
  12. Education
  13. Data Science
  14. Biochemistry
  15. Information Security Assurance
  16. Biomedical Engineering
  17. Statistics
  18. Information Technology and Computer Science
  19. Occupational Therapy
  20. Criminal Justice
  21. Engineering
  22. Psychology
  23. Philosophy
  24. Organic Chemistry
  25. English

While all of these industries are growing, some provide better job prospects than others.

Immunology

immunologist checking a young patient

  • Annual Median Salary (Bureau of Labor Statistics): $208,000
  • Job Growth: 4%

One of the more specialized high paying doctorate programs is in immunology. Immunology is the study of disease prevention and immunity. Due to the specialized nature of the study here, jobs are typically well paid and much more specific.

A person who has studied immunology may be expected to work in research or academia but is also likely to land high-paying roles within the medical industry and at hospitals. The demand for this area of expertise is also rising faster than the average job growth, meaning there should be plenty of opportunities for graduates.

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A PhD in immunology is a lot of hard work and is, therefore, suited to someone who already has considerable experience working in the medical industry. Those with an academic background in medicine should consider applying for an immunology program.

Physics

physicians researching in a laboratory

  • Annual Median Salary (Bureau of Labor Statistics): $129,850
  • Job Growth: 7%

Of the three main sciences, physics can be the one that is the most fruitful for taking a doctorate. People who take a PhD in physics are likely to land themselves a position as either a researcher or a professor.

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There are also several other high paying positions that are possible for someone who takes this career path, including more specialized roles or becoming lead physicists and consultants.

Physics is also one of the job markets that is predicted to see a considerable amount of growth for the next 10 years. Pursuing a physics doctorate can be perfect for someone who already has experience in physics or someone who already has either a bachelor’s or master’s degree in the subject combined with some practical experience.

Aerospace Engineering

aerospace engineer checking a plane

  • Annual Median Salary (Bureau of Labor Statistics): $118,610
  • Job Growth: 3%

Aerospace engineering is a field that would likely attract those who already have a background in either science or engineering. It is one of the fastest growing industries in the world, and demand for jobs is expected to increase as the years roll by. So the length it takes to get a PhD should be taken into consideration so you can quickly enter this field during its booming growth.

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The doctorate focuses on the engineering of various different types of spacecraft and can be incredibly demanding. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the salary potential for this field is as high as $171,220.

Math

math professor teaching in a university

  • Annual Median Salary (Bureau of Labor Statistics): $110,860
  • Job Growth: 3%

Math may not be the glamorous subject to study at doctorate level, but it can open up a wide range of potentially lucrative career options.

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Math can allow students to work in various sectors of the economy and business, and they may also work in research or as a math lecturer or professor at a top university.

Management

team of professionals in a meeting

  • Annual Median Salary (Bureau of Labor Statistics): $109,760
  • Job Growth: 5%

Taking a doctorate in management can be a logical step in the career of someone who has a history of working in business, project management, or the economy as well as several other sectors.

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Earning this doctorate can open up chief executive roles within companies and roles like chief operations officer and supply chain management. It may also lead to regional and national management roles.

Chemical Engineering

chemical engineer working in a laboratory

  • Annual Median Salary (Bureau of Labor Statistics): $108,540
  • Job Growth: 4%

Another engineering-based field that presents doctorate students with some big money career options is chemical engineering. The field combines a number of different disciplines, including all of the sciences, math, and statistics, as well as engineering.

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It is a complex doctorate to take, but the rewards may be worth the effort, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics showing salaries up to $168,960 available in this field.

Economics

economics analyst working on her computer

  • Annual Median Salary (Bureau of Labor Statistics): $108,350
  • Job Growth: 14%

One of the most popular PhDs to take is in economics. Economics is a social science that studies and theories about the production and consumption of goods and the effect that this has on society and the economy.

Taking a PhD in economics may open up a lot of doors. Working in the financial sector is usually lucrative, and a doctorate in economics can help give you an edge over competitors in what is a notoriously feisty industry. Top earners can make around $198,230 per year.

Economics analysis is a skill that is highly sought after, especially in the medical, legal, and education sectors.

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While on the face of it, some people may believe that studying economics leaves you consigned to an office for the majority of your working life, the reality is that it can open up a lot of doors in a lot of different sectors. It may also provide you with a lot of travel opportunities and chances to meet new people.

A doctorate in economics may be perfect for someone who already has some experience in the field or for someone who has studied economics, math, finance, or business to a higher level and wants to take the next step in their academic and professional career.

Pharmacology

pharmacist checking details of a medicine on computer

  • Annual Median Salary (Bureau of Labor Statistics): $107,270
  • Job Growth: 6%

Pharmacology is big business these days, and taking a doctorate in the subject may lead to some lucrative opportunities. It is expected that someone who wants to study pharmacology will have a background in the subject with a master’s degree being heavily preferred.

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There are a lot of pre-requisites for getting onto a pharmacology doctorate program, but the Bureau of Labor Statistics is showing salaries going as high as $164,980.

Business Administration

business professional working in the office

  • Annual Median Salary (Bureau of Labor Statistics): $103,650
  • Job Growth: 4%

Getting a doctorate in business administration can open up a lot of doors. Students who end up taking their doctorate in business administration often end up working as leading and chief executives as well as entrepreneurs and financial advisors.

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According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, salaries for someone with a doctorate in this field can be as high as $208,000. It can be ideal for someone who has a background in business or economics who wants to take the next step in their career.

Cybersecurity

IT specialist working on her computer

  • Annual Median Salary (Bureau of Labor Statistics): $103,590
  • Job Growth: 31%

As the world of IT continues to grow, so does the demand for more and more cybersecurity. The field is one of the fastest-growing in the world, and getting a doctorate in the subject may land you a range of different high paying jobs.

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According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, roles like IT managers can offer doctorates a salary of up to $208,000. This sector is also constantly growing, and as such, the demand and the salaries should continue to grow as time passes.

Electrical Engineering

electrical engineer working on wires

  • Annual Median Salary (Bureau of Labor Statistics): $100,830
  • Job Growth: 5%

When it comes to job demand, electrical engineering is one of the safest career paths to go down. Electrical engineering has a huge impact on our day-to-day lives.

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Most of our day-to-day electrical appliances exist as a result of electrical engineering, and taking a doctorate in the field may open the door to some pretty lucrative research and project management positions. It is advised that someone who takes a PhD in electrical engineering already have practical experience in the field.

Education

school principal checking the students before going on a field trip

  • Annual Median Salary (Bureau of Labor Statistics): $98,490
  • Job Growth: 4%

A doctorate in education can open up a lot of different career options in that sector. A lot of doctors of education end up working in either research or in top positions at schools as principals and superintendents.

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According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for someone working in education administration with a doctorate is around the $199,400 mark. A number of doctor of education programs do not require a dissertation.

Data Science

data specialists checking the data room

  • Annual Median Salary (Bureau of Labor Statistics): $98,230
  • Job Growth: 31%

Data is quickly becoming the most valuable commodity on the planet, and as such, the demand for data specialists and researchers is growing at an impressive rate.

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Data science doctorates offer a gateway into these positions, and they usually come with some pretty high salaries. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, salary for a data scientist can go as high as $165,230, and with this field ever-expanding, the demand for these positions should continue to increase.

Biochemistry

biochemist working in a laboratory

  • Annual Median Salary (Bureau of Labor Statistics): $94,270
  • Job Growth: 4%

Biochemists study the chemical and physical makeup of living organisms. Due to the specialized nature of the subject, research positions in this sector typically pay incredibly well.

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According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, biochemist doctorates can start out at around $67,710 but can increase up to $169,860 or more. This doctorate may suit someone with a background in chemistry or some other science discipline.

Information Security Assurance

IT engineers working in data center

  • Annual Median Salary (Bureau of Labor Statistics): $92,870
  • Job Growth: 6%

Information assurance is a new discipline that has been created as a result of the times we live in. Information assurance is effectively another type of cybersecurity that is designed to protect people’s data from third parties and other potentially dangerous sources.

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A background in any sort of computer or data-related field can be ideal for getting onto an information assurance course. Due to the increasing demand for data protection, jobs in this sector can be particularly lucrative, and the demand for these jobs is expected to increase as time rolls on.

The demand for experts in this industry is very high and is only predicted to grow over the next decade.

Biomedical Engineering

biomedical engineer working in a laboratory

  • Annual Median Salary (Bureau of Labor Statistics): $92,620
  • Job Growth: 5%

Biomedical engineering is becoming an incredibly popular field of research. It is an ever-growing and developing industry, and as such, the demand for expertise in the area is on the rise.

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Getting a PhD in biomedical engineering is likely to secure you a lucrative research job for a university or a job in a hospital or the medical industry. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, an average salary in this field for a senior position ranges from $127,980 to $169,860.

Statistics

statistician analyzing data and working on her laptop

  • Annual Median Salary (Bureau of Labor Statistics): $92,270
  • Job Growth: 35%

Statistics is one of the most versatile doctorates available today. Statistics are used in a wide range of different sectors, including finance, research, business, health care, government, and many others.

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A doctorate in statistics can be ideal for someone who has a background in math or business. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the top salary for someone working in statistics can be as high as $150,840.

Information Technology and Computer Science

computer programmers having a conversation

  • Annual Median Salary (Bureau of Labor Statistics): $91,250
  • Job Growth: 11%

The world of IT is constantly growing, and as it does, the demand for experts grows with it. Getting a doctorate in information technology and computer science can be an incredibly lucrative career move, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics showing top earners taking home as high as $208,00.

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The jobs that can be accessed, such as chief technology officers or research roles within the industry, tend to be incredibly well-paid. This doctorate attracts people who have backgrounds in IT-related fields, such as computer science or computer programming.

Occupational Therapy

occupational therapist helping a patient during therapy session

  • Annual Median Salary (Bureau of Labor Statistics): $86,280
  • Job Growth: 16%

For someone who already has experience working in occupational therapy, earning a doctorate in the field can be a huge benefit. Not only can it open the door for them to move up in the industry, but it can also expand their knowledge of the subject area.

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It can provide them with theory-based research while also working on their leadership and management skills. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, occupational therapists holding a doctorate degree may reach a salary as high as $122,670.

The job growth for this doctorate is also incredibly high, which means it may be an excellent career path to enter in terms of job security.

Criminal Justice

forensic expert investigating a crime scene

  • Annual Median Salary (Bureau of Labor Statistics): $86,110
  • Job Growth: 4%

The number of career options that are available to someone who has a doctorate in criminal justice is typically vast. Working as a criminologist, a criminal justice researcher, or a federal law agency admin can earn graduates a lot of money.

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This course of study is best suited for someone who already has real-world experience working in the criminal justice or law sector.

Engineering

engineering project manager supervising a construction

  • Annual Median Salary (Bureau of Labor Statistics): $83,160
  • Job Growth: 3%

Engineering jobs are almost always in demand, and while there are a lot of high paying jobs available for those who have an undergraduate or master’s degree, taking a doctorate in the field can really help you advance your career.

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An engineering degree is already one of the highest paying bachelor degrees, but the doctorate can be perfect for someone who already has experience working in engineering and wants to take that next step in their career.

A director of engineering job title and other project management positions may offer some very high salaries, about $208,000 or more, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Psychology

psychologist talking to a young child

  • Annual Median Salary (Bureau of Labor Statistics): $82,180
  • Job Growth: 3%

With the stigma around mental health finally disappearing, the demand for jobs in psychology is on the rise. While a normal degree or masters in psychology may allow you to get jobs as a psychiatrist or a psychologist, higher-paying positions can become available following a doctorate.

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It may also open up roles in research and as a university lecturer in the subject. The doctorate is suited to someone who already has their masters in psychology or who has a significant amount of experience working in the field.

Philosophy

philosophy professor teaching in a university

  • Annual Median Salary (Bureau of Labor Statistics): $80,790
  • Job Growth: 9%

Getting a degree in philosophy can potentially lead to a surprisingly lucrative career in research or working as a lecturer. The doctorate is suited for someone who wants to work in research and who has a background in philosophy or religious studies.

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According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, salaries in this field are around $80,790 per year working in a research role, and up to $180,360 for college professors.

Organic Chemistry

geologist examining a rock

  • Annual Median Salary (Bureau of Labor Statistics): $79,300
  • Job Growth: 5%

Organic chemistry, perhaps more than any of the other sciences, can open up a lot of different career options for doctorates. As well as research and academic positions, someone who studies organic chemistry may be able to land a job in a number of different areas, including geology, the pharmaceutical industry, and engineering.

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Organic chemistry is a notoriously difficult subject to study, though, so it is vital that you have a solid background in chemistry and some work experience before attempting to join the program. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, salaries can go as high as $139,650 in this field.

English

professional writers checking the manuscript before printing in a publishing house

  • Annual Median Salary (Bureau of Labor Statistics): $69,000
  • Job Growth: 2%

A doctorate in English can open a range of different academic doors for potential students. A PhD in English may be perfect for someone who already has an academic background in the subject and can also be perfect for qualified teachers and writers looking to take the next step in their career.

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According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a doctorate in English may qualify you for a potential career in a lecturing position with salaries as high as $180,360, as well as positions within the publishing industry.

What Are the Different Types of Doctorate Degrees?

Different Types of Doctorate Degrees

There are six common types of terminal degrees.

  • Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) – Traditionally reserved for those who want to remain in the world of academia, Ph.D. degrees focus on maximizing your ability to impart this advanced knowledge to incoming students. Outside of teaching, Ph.D. candidates also focus on pushing the limits of research and theoretical study within their chosen fields.
  • Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) – The DBA experience is all about turning your terminal research in the areas of finance, marketing, accounting, and other related fields into applicable real-world skills. DBA graduates traditionally work in the corporate sector as executive officers and other ranking members of various managerial teams.
  • Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) – PsyD students aim to provide clinical services within a wide range of settings, including group, familial, medical, scholastic, and even corporate environments. Earning this degree can give you the power to serve as a practicing clinician or specialized counselor.
  • Doctor of Education (EdD) – Capturing an EdD degree is the first step toward a leadership role within the corporate and administrative side of the education field. Working as a principal, district supervisor, or even regional superintendent all fit into the professional path of this degree.
  • Doctor of Social Work (DSW) – If you’re interested in educating others on the best practices and leading theories of modern social work and community interaction, then a DSW program could be your option. Holders of this degree research and educate others in the social work field via hands-on training in the classroom and the office, as well as provide answers and guidance in unique or exceptional social issue cases.
  • Doctor of Public Health (DPH) – Like most of the other degrees in this review, earning a DPH is all about the desire to lead others in a chosen workplace environment. In this case, that means maintaining residency as an administrator or public health coordinator at a hospital or a similar clinical setting.

The type of doctorate degree you will want to earn depends on your career goals and primarily whether you want to teach the subject or continue working in your field.

Campus or Online: Which One Is Right for You?

doctorate student studying on her computer in a college library

It’s no big secret that whichever doctorate route you choose, you will most likely be rewarded for your hard work and research via ample compensation. However, you can make this process a little easier on yourself by focusing on a path – either online or on-campus – that suits your unique needs and daily requirements.

While the appeal of the traditional college experience is the major selling point for the on-campus approach, working on your degree from home is a flexible alternative that can shape and mold itself to your current personal and professional schedule by allowing you to work on your research and coursework at your own pace.

Adding in that these doctorate programs often waive Graduate Record Examination (GRE) minimum scores based on your GPA, as well as reduce or completely remove residency requirements, is further proof that this approach is at least worth your consideration as you plan out your academic future.

Questions Related to Earning a Doctorate

Here are our answers to a few more questions you might have.

How Much Do PhD Graduates Earn?

PhD Graduates make on average close to $100,000, with some job positions paying nearer the $70,000 mark and others going well about $208,000 (Bureau of Labor Statistics).

There may be some who question whether it is worth taking the time to invest in a PhD. Doctorate programs require a lot of time and effort, but studies suggest that PhD students typically earn more and find it easier to attract higher-paying jobs than those with just an undergraduate or a master’s degree.

What Are the Highest Paying Degrees?

A lot of degrees can lead to well-paying jobs. The more specialized a degree is in a certain field, the higher the chances are that it will be well paying. These degrees currently tend to be those in the engineering sector, as these are the ones that offer the most in-demand jobs.

What Is the Highest Paying PhD Degrees?

Once again, this one will depend on how specialized your PhD is and how in-demand that expertise is at a given time. Engineering PhDs tend to be evergreen, while there is an increasing demand for those with PhDs and knowledge in computer science and other IT related subject.

PhDs usually provide those who have them with a lot of high-paying job opportunities.

Are There Any Degrees Higher than a PhD?

No, there are no higher degrees than a PhD.

A PhD, also regularly referred to as just a doctorate, is as high as you can go academically. It is a specialized research doctorate that demonstrates a high level of expertise in a field. Most people who obtain their PhD tend to stay on at universities as either a member of a research team or as a lecturer.

Do you need a masters to get a PhD? While many PhD programs require you to earn a masters first, it is possible to earn your PhD without having earned a masters. These are the direct entry bachelor’s to PhD programs offered by some universities.

Getting Your Doctorate Degree

It is important that you take the time to do your research into what doctorate will help your career the most. Once you have done this, you can begin to find the right university and program for you and begin the next step in your academic and professional career.

Now that you understand your career prospects and doctorate opportunities, it’s time to lay out the blueprint for a successful future.

Outside of conducting research on each of the areas that interest you, feel free to use the search tool below to find accredited universities that offer online doctoral programs in your chosen field.

When paired up with the rest of what you’ve learned here, there’s nothing that can stop you from finding the right school – and program of study – to fit your personal and professional goals moving forward.

Ready to start your journey?
Joy Cromwelle
WRITTEN BY
Joy Cromwelle
Joy is pursuing her Ph.D. in Public Policy & Foreign Policy and holds a Master of Business Administration in Strategic Management, as well as a Bachelor's in Business Administration. Joy's focus is helping non-traditional students find accelerated degree options and credit for prior learning opportunities.