2024 Highest Paying Masters Degrees & Programs

By Ima Ocon
Edited by Briana Sukert
Updated on July 4, 2024
Edited by Briana Sukert
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Explore the highest paying masters degrees for 2023, and discover the programs that can open doors to well-paid professions. Plan your path to success today!

If you’re trying to decide on a program for graduate school, it could be worthwhile to look at what the highest paying masters degrees are.

Highest Paying Masters Degrees & Programs

After all, more people than ever are pursuing a master’s degree to gain expertise in a certain field and potentially increase their earnings. Choosing the right master’s degree for you can make a difference when it comes to your professional goals.

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To give you some ideas, we’ve created a comprehensive list of the highest paying graduate degrees, along with a clear overview of related roles.

What Are the Highest Paying Masters Degrees?

Given all of the master’s degrees out there, which ones are the highest-paying after graduation? According to salary and job growth data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, here are some of the most profitable masters degrees.

Select the program that most interests you to jump to that section of the guide:

You may want to explore your options to decide which program is right for you.

Master of Business Administration (MBA)

MBA graduate degrees

Chief Executives
Annual Median Salary: $179,520
Job Growth: -6%

Sales Managers
Annual Median Salary: $127,490
Job Growth: 7%

General and Operations Managers
Annual Median Salary: $97,970
Job Growth: 9%

A Master of Business Administration (MBA) is one of the most popular graduate degrees and may lead graduates to some of the highest paying careers. With an MBA program, you can hone your leadership and management skills to make an impact in the fast-paced, competitive business world.

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An MBA offers broad training in the key systems and processes behind running a company, from production and logistics to marketing and decision-making. Having an MBA may make it easier to qualify for high-ranking management roles across different industries. Alternatively, some MBA graduates launch their own businesses.

Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)

MSN graduate degrees

Nurse Anesthetists
Annual Median Salary: $195,610
Job Growth: 13%

Nurse Practitioners
Annual Median Salary: $120,680
Job Growth: 52%

Nurse Midwives
Annual Median Salary: $112,830
Job Growth: 11%

Registered nurses (RNs) as well as nursing degree holders may go for a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) as the next step in their career.

An MSN deepens nursing expertise because it allows you to focus on a particular field of nursing. Some examples of specialties are mental health, nursing education, and nursing practitioner. The coursework typically includes science-heavy classes, such as microbiology and statistics, along with an intensive clinical practicum.

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With this additional training, MSN graduates are better prepared to become nurse managers and directors, nurse educators, and advanced practice registered nurses.

Masters in Information Technology

MIT graduate degrees

Computer and Information Systems Managers
Annual Median Salary: $159,010
Job Growth: 11%

Computer Network Architects
Annual Median Salary: $120,520
Job Growth: 5%

A masters in information technology studies computer systems and data within the context of a business environment.

You’ll take intensive classes on technical topics such as software engineering, data science, and information technology (IT) security and policies. At the same time, you can learn about how to integrate these topics into a larger business strategy. To promote this, the degree requires modules on project management, strategic thinking, and organizational behavior.

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Because of the interdisciplinary training, information technology masters graduates are often well-poised to lead software projects in organizations. Common roles in the field include software engineers, business intelligence analysts, and project managers.

Masters in Engineering Management

Masters in Engineering Management

Architectural and Engineering Managers
Annual Median Salary: $152,350
Job Growth: 4%

Engineering managers take charge of processes, activities, and personnel in engineering fields such as construction, product development, and electric engineering.

One way to break into this career is through obtaining a masters in engineering management, which enables those with a technical background to develop leadership and business know-how. Aside from innovative problem-solving, the program also enhances decision-making acumen and communication skills. You can ultimately learn how to plan and implement full-scale engineering projects.

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For the coursework, you can expect to find core classes in strategic management, analytics, finance, marketing, and quality control—all tailored for engineers.

Masters in Marketing

Masters in Marketing

Marketing Managers
Annual Median Salary: $135,030
Job Growth: 10%

Advertising and Promotions Managers
Annual Median Salary: $127,150
Job Growth: 10%

A masters in marketing covers all of the major marketing areas while incorporating business strategy and the latest technologies. You’ll typically study product innovation, branding, sales, and business planning. Ultimately, you can practice creating company-wide marketing plans that use various platforms and techniques.

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Because the field is shifting more and more toward digital marketing, you may work heavily with technology, from assessing social media data to summarizing market research. The main emphasis is on being able to lead marketing functions in organizations. There are also electives for those who want to specialize in sectors like luxury goods, multicultural marketing, and e-commerce.

Masters in Petroleum Engineering

Masters in Petroleum Engineering

Petroleum Engineers
Annual Median Salary: $130,850
Job Growth: 8%

Petroleum engineering aims to extract hydrocarbons, such as natural gas and oil, efficiently. It’s one of the highest-paying fields because hydrocarbons power most of the world’s energy needs, from electricity to consumer goods production.

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A graduate degree in petroleum engineering can be a very useful credential. It tackles the fundamentals of the industry, such as field appraisal, proposal writing and presentation, and recovery using safe, high-grade technologies. Even with an online setup, you might be required to visit major organizations and development sites. Graduates often find work as engineers in the oil, gas, mining, and transportation industries.

Masters in Finance

Masters in Finance

Financial Managers
Annual Median Salary: $131,710
Job Growth: 17%

Personal Financial Advisors
Annual Median Salary: $94,170
Job Growth: 5%

If you’re a financial professional, then your first choice for a graduate degree would typically be a masters in finance. This graduate program explores the workings of modern financial markets. It has a broad scope, featuring topics such as corporate finance, alternative investments, finance analytics, and investment banking.

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You can also take classes in mathematics and economics so you can pair an awareness of global trends with quantitative models for sharper analysis. Some finance masters programs even offer preparation courses for students who are looking to become chartered financial analysts (CFAs), which is the most prestigious designation in finance.

Masters in Physics

Masters in Physics

Annual Median Salary: $152,430
Job Growth: 9%

Annual Median Salary: $128,160
Job Growth: 5%

A masters in physics is a research-oriented graduate degree that tackles advanced topics in both theoretical and applied physics.

With a masters in physics, you’ll study major theories and problems in areas such as astrophysics, electrodynamics, and nuclear physics. You’ll also conduct experiments, assess research critically, and perform simulations to test your own ideas.

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It’s usually a very flexible graduate degree, with students being able to customize many of their classes based on their research interests. Most graduates continue their formal education with a PhD, but non-research careers are possible in technology, data science, finance, and other technical industries.

Masters in Computer Science

Masters in Computer Science

Computer and Information Research Scientists
Annual Median Salary: $131,490
Job Growth: 22%

Computer Hardware Engineers
Annual Median Salary: $128,170
Job Growth: 2%

Computer science is one of the fastest-growing and most lucrative industries. Since having specialized knowledge is a major asset, a masters in computer science typically attracts those who want more senior roles in the industry. If you’re interested in research, then this degree may also be a good fit.

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A computer science masters degree provides exposure to cutting-edge fields in technology. Typical tracks include machine learning, cyber security, software engineering, data science, and computer vision. The curriculum tends to emphasize research, and students often have to write a major research paper that can be formally published.

Master of Public Administration (MPA)

MPA graduate degrees

Political Scientists
Annual Median Salary: $122,510
Job Growth: 9%

Public Relations and Fundraising Managers
Annual Median Salary: $119,860
Job Growth: 13%

Becoming a leader in a government organization or nonprofit requires a special kind of skill set. This is where a Master of Public Administration (MPA) comes in.

Considered the MBA of the public sector, an MPA emphasizes not only organizational management but also public policy implementation and community-building. The faculty often includes instructors with actual experience working in public service.

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In an MPA program, you can learn about the processes and systems behind public organizations, from program evaluation to administrative laws. Plus, you’ll typically draw from economics, sociology, and politics to understand issues such as human rights and social equity.

Masters in Physician Assistant Studies

Masters in Physician Assistant Studies

Physician Assistants
Annual Median Salary: $121,530
Job Growth: 31%

Physician assistants are licensed healthcare professionals who examine patients, diagnose diseases, and prepare treatment plans under the supervision of a physician. To become a physician assistant, it’s necessary to hold a relevant master’s degree at minimum. A masters in physician assistant studies has two components.

There’s usually a core curriculum that’s focused on clinical medicine and patient care, with classes on biology and medical practice. The other half of the degree is clinical training, with rotations through various medical specialties like pediatrics, internal medicine, and emergency medicine.

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After earning their degree, graduates can then pursue becoming physician assistants by passing the Physician Assistant National Certification Examination (PANCE).

Masters in Economics

Masters in Economics

Annual Median Salary: $105,900
Job Growth: 24%

Annual Median Salary: $105,630
Job Growth: 13%

In a masters in economics, you’ll study financial markets and governments using a combination of theory, quantitative methods, and research. Compared to an undergraduate degree, a masters degree in economics features more advanced mathematics through classes on statistics and econometrics.

Graduate students write research papers, create models to solve real-world problems, and perform quantitative analysis on actual data. Ultimately, graduate students can develop the fundamental skills for becoming economists in both the public and private sectors.

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Professionals in the field may work as policy analysts, data scientists, consultants, and professors. Many also build their careers in government and international development.

Masters in Applied Mathematics

Masters in Applied Mathematics

Annual Median Salary: $108,100
Job Growth: 3%

Annual Median Salary: $95,570
Job Growth: 35%

Operations Research Analysts
Annual Median Salary: $82,360
Job Growth: 25%

Applied math is all about using mathematics to tackle real-world problems. For example, applied math can be used to make predictive models in finance or to help create new technology and materials.

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A masters in applied mathematics is a highly customizable graduate degree where you can delve into the mathematical problems that you want to work on. Aside from core classes on numerical methods and statistics, you’ll usually have to present a thesis project. Because it’s a versatile degree, it can lead to math-heavy roles in various fields, such as media, engineering, data science, and healthcare.

Masters in Software Engineering

Masters in Software Engineering

Software Developers
Annual Median Salary: $120,730
Job Growth: 22%

Information Security Analysts
Annual Median Salary: $102,600
Job Growth: 33%

Another technology-oriented graduate degree is a masters in software engineering. Software engineering refers to the whole end-to-end process of building computer software. This includes analyzing user needs, writing the actual code, and conducting tests to improve the product.

It draws from engineering principles, with the goal of making software that’s scalable, efficient, adaptable, and user-friendly. A masters in software engineering teaches methods and tools that are immediately usable, with classes such as decision analysis, software architecture, and data science.

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Aside from software engineering, this degree can be helpful for pursuing jobs in data analysis, web development, and computer and information systems management.

Masters in Industrial Management

Masters in Industrial Management

Industrial Production Managers
Annual Median Salary: $103,150
Job Growth: 5%

A masters in industrial management is geared toward those who have a technical background but want more formal business training. It’s specifically meant to prepare students for high-level careers in the manufacturing, design, and transportation industries.

You can receive training in how to handle key industrial processes, including creating project plans, optimizing supply chains, and analyzing contracts and investments. The program helps you develop collaboration and problem-solving skills and familiarizes you with regulations and safety standards.

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Core classes include operations management, organizational dynamics, quality management, project assessment, and systems analysis. Industrial management graduates tend to become management analysts, production managers, and manufacturing directors.

Masters in Engineering

Masters in Engineering

Chemical Engineers
Annual Median Salary: $105,550
Job Growth: 9%

Environmental Engineers
Annual Median Salary: $96,820
Job Growth: 4%

Mechanical Engineers
Annual Median Salary: $95,300
Job Growth: 7%

For those with an engineering or science background, another possible graduate degree is a masters in engineering. This program allows you to deepen your knowledge in a specific field of engineering. Most programs have a wide variety of concentrations, such as biomedical engineering, chemical engineering, environmental engineering, and mechanical engineering.

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A masters in engineering has a hands-on approach, with students working on supervised projects related to their specialty. Business courses are included to help equip you for leadership positions. Because of the specialized coursework, graduates tend to find challenging and high-level jobs in their respective engineering disciplines.

Masters in Healthcare Management

Masters in Healthcare Management

Medical and Health Services Managers
Annual Median Salary: $101,340
Job Growth: 32%

A masters in healthcare management is primarily meant for healthcare professionals who are looking to take on leadership or executive roles.

This graduate degree covers business fundamentals as applied to the healthcare setting. Core classes—such as accounting, law and ethics, and strategic management—are all specialized and based on the unique needs of healthcare systems.

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All in all, graduates learn how to coordinate resources to provide top-quality patient care while keeping pace with major trends. Graduates often become clinical directors, administrators, and health service managers. Some may choose to focus on developing policies in public organizations.

Master of Education (MEd)

Master of Education

Elementary, Middle, and High School Principals
Annual Median Salary: $98,420
Job Growth: 8%

Postsecondary Education Administrators
Annual Median Salary: $96,910
Job Growth: 8%

For teachers who aspire to make changes to the wider education system, a masters in education may be a good fit. A Master of Education (MEd) goes beyond how to teach effectively inside a classroom, focusing more on the policy and administrative level of education.

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You can receive a deeper understanding of how the educational system works. In addition, you’ll typically assess educational research, design curriculum from scratch, and tackle major issues in equity, ethics, and learning differences. This degree can be beneficial preparation for a career as a principal, education administrator, instructional designer, or corporate trainer.

Masters in Biomedical Engineering

Masters in Biomedical Engineering

Bioengineers and Biomedical Engineers
Annual Median Salary: $97,410
Job Growth: 6%

Biomedical engineers help drive innovation by designing products and technology-based systems for improving human health. Some examples of products of biomedical engineering include prosthetic joints, regenerative medicine, and cutting-edge medical devices.

A masters in biomedical engineering allows students to explore this fascinating field more deeply, often incorporating training in both research and entrepreneurship. Aside from theory-heavy classes on physiology and quantitative science, students typically pursue their own research projects while working closely with experts in the field.

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Many biomedical engineering graduates go on to PhD programs. They may also work in the healthcare or medical device industries.

Masters in Sociology

Masters in Sociology

Annual Median Salary: $92,910
Job Growth: 5%

Social and Community Service Managers
Annual Median Salary: $74,000
Job Growth: 15%

Sociologists study human society and behavior, from niche subcultures and family norms to large governments. For those interested in doing research and generating their own insights, a masters in sociology could be a rewarding degree.

This program helps prepare you to be well-versed in sociological research and theories, with the capability to conduct your own studies. Aside from getting to know advanced sociological theories, you can also become more comfortable with collecting and analyzing data through classes on social statistics.

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Teaching and research careers are a natural fit for this degree, but counseling, non-profit work, and human resources are common tracks too.

Choosing a Graduate Degree Program

Here are some points to consider when you’re choosing a graduate degree program:

  • Main motivation. What’s your main reason for going to graduate school? Is it because you want to shift careers, gain more specialized knowledge in your current field, or explore other fields? You may want to keep this in mind as you compare different programs.
  • Career plans. Some people already have a specific career outcome they’re aiming for, while others have several possible careers in mind. You can check the track record of graduates from the program that you’re eyeing to see where they ended up.
  • School accreditation. One of the most important factors is school accreditation. When a school is regionally accredited, it means that it meets rigorous educational standards. You can check if a school is accredited by going to the US Department of Education’s
  • Coursework. Before committing to a graduate program, you may want to take a look at the coursework. This can help you decide between two programs with similar titles. There are programs that lean more toward research or more toward industry projects. Some also have specialized tracks.
  • Finances. It can be helpful to check the total costs per program and school. If it’s an accredited school, you might be eligible for government financial aid. You can find out if you’re eligible by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

You can even attend program open houses or talk to enrollment specialists to find out more about each program.

Should I Get a Master’s Degree?

Should I Get a Master's Degree

Whether you should get a masters degree depends on your own career goals and life situation. The main benefits of a masters degree include advancing your skills and helping you become more prepared for high-level, strategic roles.

Some graduates pursue a doctorate degree. Do You Need a Masters to Get a PhD? Not always required, but an accredited masters degree might qualify you for doctoral programs or industry certifications for some specific programs.

A masters can often lead to higher earning potential, especially since some specialized fields prioritize those with a graduate degree. Ultimately, while earning a masters degree could generally be beneficial, you may want to weigh the pros and cons for your personal situation.

Can You Get a Masters in a Different Field?

master’s programs

Yes, some master’s programs accept students who earned their bachelor’s in a different field. It happens frequently. Many people pursue careers in a field that’s different from what they studied as an undergraduate. Coming from a different field might even give you a more refreshing or creative perspective.

Still, there might be prerequisites for a master’s program that require more effort from you, such as taking extra classes on your own. During admissions, you may have to prove your interest by showing related professional or volunteer experiences.

What Masters Degree Pays the Most?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports data on the highest paying associate’s degrees, the highest paying bachelor degrees, and the highest paying doctorate degrees. Likewise, here are some of the highest earning master’s degrees, according to the BLS, along with related careers:

  • Engineering Management: Architectural and engineering managers have high median salaries of $152,350 per year.
  • Marketing: Advertising, promotions, and marketing managers have a median salary of $133,380.
  • Finance: A number of finance graduates become financial managers ($131,710 median salary) and personal financial advisors ($94,170 median salary).
  • Economics: Common careers for graduates include political scientists ($122,510 median salary) and economists ($105,630 median salary).
  • Computer Science: Software developers earn a median annual salary of $120,730, while computer and information research scientists earn a median of $131,490.

Earning a masters degree does not guarantee a specific job or salary. There are a number of additional factors that come into play, such as work experience, specialized skill sets, chosen industry, geographic location, and employer preferences.

What Are the Most In Demand Masters Degrees?

Most In Demand Masters Degrees

The following are among the most valuable masters degrees due to their high demand. Also listed are some related careers along with their projected job growth, as estimated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics:

  • Nursing: Demand for nurse practitioners may grow by 52% over the next ten years.
  • Applied Mathematics: More industries than ever are looking for statisticians (35% job growth) with a graduate degree.
  • Information Technology: The technology industry is growing in general, from information security analysts (33% job growth) to software developers (22%).
  • Marketing: There are many job openings for market research analysts (22% job growth) and other digital marketing roles.

Though these high-paying master’s degrees do not guarantee a certain career, they are associated with some of the largest job sectors today.

What Are the Most Lucrative Masters Degrees?

Most Lucrative Masters Degrees

The following are some of the top paying master’s degrees, with related careers and salary information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics:

  • Nursing: Nurse anesthetists have a median yearly salary of $195,610, while nurse practitioners earn a median of $120,680.
  • Engineering Management: Architectural and engineering managers are some of the most highly paid managerial roles, with a median salary of $152,350.
  • Marketing: Marketing managers make a median salary of $135,030, and public relations and fundraising managers make a median of $119,860.
  • Business Administration: General and operations managers earn a median salary $97,970, while chief executives earn a median of $179,520.
  • Computer Science: Information systems managers make a median salary of $165,940, while software developers make a median of $120,730.

While earning a masters degree can help you advance your qualifications in your respective field, even the highest-paying master’s degrees do not guarantee a certain position or salary.

How Long Does It Take to Get Your Masters Degree?

A master’s degree can usually be finished in around 2 years of full-time study, with some programs ranging from 1 to 3 years. This translates to around 30 to 60 credit hours.

If you’re studying part-time, it will likely take you longer to finish, with some schools allowing a longer completion time than others. As an alternative, it’s also possible to go through some programs at an accelerated pace, allowing you to finish faster. There are even 1 year masters programs that may be of interest to some students. This especially can be the case with online programs since they are more flexible. Some programs are self-paced CBE learning, making it possible to earn a 6 month masters degree online.

What Masters Degree Should I Get?

Considering these questions may help you decide which master’s degree is right for you:

  • What’s your goal behind getting a master’s degree? You can evaluate all of the programs you’re considering based on this question and even research their career outcomes.
  • Do you want a more research-oriented or a more hands-on degree? Some degrees are geared toward research, while others aim to prepare you for work in specific industries.
  • What are your strengths and interests? Will you personally enjoy taking on the coursework?

There are many degrees that sound similar at first, so it’s strategic to research each program.

Is a Master’s Degree Worth It?

Master's Degree programs

Yes, a master’s degree is worth it for many professionals. For one, certain jobs require a master’s degree, such as being a data scientist or a physician assistant. For other jobs, having a master’s degree can open up more career options and help you stand out when applying for advanced positions.

In a masters program, you can deepen your skill set and receive direct training from mentors. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, professionals with a master’s degree tend to have higher median earnings and reduced unemployment rates compared to those with only a bachelor’s degree.

Getting Your Master’s Degree Online

Master’s Degree Online

Getting a master’s degree is a serious commitment, but it can potentially advance your career, expand your network, and expose you to impactful experiences.

If you’re looking for a more flexible arrangement, then you should know that it’s possible to get your masters degree online. In fact, more schools are now offering their master’s degree programs in a hybrid or online format. These tend to follow the same rigorous curriculum as a classroom setup.

Whatever master’s degree you choose to pursue, there are plenty of credible, accredited schools that you can start exploring and applying to.

Ready to start your journey?