Research shows that students with bachelor’s degrees in general make more than those with just high school diplomas. Similarly, earn a master’s degree and quite likely your starting salary and earning potential exceed those with a bachelor’s degree. What follows is a list of master’s degrees that pay off handsomely for students. Note that the list includes master’s of business administration (MBA) degrees specializing in a business subset, and master’s degrees, typically a two-year program. Our point here is, if you’re still trying to decide what to focus on with your advanced degree, we hope this list will help you decide.
- Petroleum Engineering – Mid-career: $187,600
- Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists – Mid-career: $162,800
- Strategy – Starting Salary: $114,040
- Entrepreneurship – Mid-career: $138,300
- Marketing Management – Mid-career: $135,300
- Economics (MBA) – Mid-career: $131,800
- Computer Science – Mid-career: $129,900
- Marketing and International Business – Mid-career: $128,200
- Finance – Mid-career: $126,800
- Electrical Engineering – Mid-career: $124,700
The salaries listed are averages at the starting salary, but the upside in all these fields are quite good. Example: an engineer might start with a salary under $100,000, but an experienced, recognized expert in the field can demand six figures. As is always the case, the same job at different locations, within different organizations (private or public) will offer higher or lower salaries.
The salaries listed below derive from an averaging of lists from three sources of information: salary.com, study.com, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
- NURSE MIDWIFERY
50 Nurse Midwifery
Average beginning salary $81,800; mid-career salary: $93,600
Nurse-midwives are advanced practice nurses who provide primary care for women, adolescent girls and infants, with a special emphasis on maternity and reproductive care. Registered nurses (RNs) can become nurse-midwives by earning an MSN with a midwifery concentration.
MSN students gain the knowledge and skills needed to prescribe medications (part of the nurse-midwife scope of practice in select states), order diagnostic tests, conduct regular health exams and refer patients to specialists. Students participate in clinical training in addition to traditional classroom instruction, and they learn how to diagnose and treat health conditions and promote disease prevention for women and children. Clinical education is typically part of the curriculum and provides students with hands-on training in various settings, including experience with childbirth.
- FAMILY NURSE PRACTITIONER STUDIES
Average beginning salary $84,000; mid-career salary: $95,200
Family nurse practitioners are advanced practice registered nurses (RNs) who specialize in treating patients throughout all stages of life, from pregnancy and childbirth to geriatrics. They provide advanced nursing care in general or family medical practice settings or situations.
Besides nursing care, family nurse practitioners conduct examinations, make assessments and diagnoses, order or perform diagnostic tests, perform minor surgical procedures, provide medical treatment and prescribe medications under the supervision of a licensed doctor.
- HEALTH CARE ADMINISTRATION
Average beginning salary $63,700; mid-career salary: $96,900
See: 50 Best Online Master’s in Healthcare Administration
Health care administration can be available as a chosen concentration within an MBA degree program. Here, students interested in advancing their careers in health care administration or management can find training in long-term care administration, policy analysis, consulting and health planning.
Besides practical experiences offered through required internship programs, courses typically offered in an MBA in health care administration degree program impart knowledge of management theory and pivotal elements of the health care profession. Students study business English, statistical business methods, marketing, and organizational behavior.
- PSYCHIATRIC MENTAL HEALTH NURSE PRACTITIONER STUDIES
- Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Studies
Average beginning salary $90,200; mid-career salary: $101,200
Aspiring or practicing nurses who want to care for psychiatric patients have diverse educational options through psychiatric nurse practitioner specialties in a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program. These programs combine classroom learning and hands-on training through observing and working with patients.
Before entering a Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP) program, students are usually required to hold registered nurse (RN) licensure or to have a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. A few schools offer bachelor’s degree programs or RN classes leading into master’s-level classes in psychiatric health allowing students to start on a mental health track right away. Some schools accept students with a bachelor’s degree in a field other than nursing, as long as the student fulfills certain course requirements.
- PHYSICIAN ASSISTANT STUDIES
Average beginning salary $84,400; $101,200
Physician assistant master’s degree programs prepare students for a wide range of employment options in medicine, including positions in hospitals, doctor’s offices and community health clinics. Nearly all master’s degree programs require applicants to hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution before applying.
Regardless of the field in which a student earned their degree, most institutions require certain prerequisite courses to enter the program, such as several hours of chemistry, biology and medical terminology.
The curriculum of most physician assistant master’s degrees involves a combination of medical coursework and hands-on clinical experience. Below are some of the topics that may be included in the curriculum of such a degree program: immunology, pharmacology, physical diagnosis, genetics, ethical concerns in medicine, and patient assessment.
- FOOD SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
45 Food Science and Technology Average beginning salary $53,800; mid-career salary: $101,400
Food technology is concerned with the process of getting food from the farm to the supermarket. Food technologists work in food research and development to ensure the quality and safety of food products.
Postgraduate courses in food technology are available at the graduate degree and certificate levels in food science and technology. Graduate coursework builds on concepts introduced in undergraduate courses by looking at more complex issues of food science, such as food preservation and genetic engineering.
Average beginning salary $56,600; mid-career salary: $102,700
Those pursuing a master’s degree in geology complete a curriculum that can prepare them for multiple careers, including geological researcher, or to continue on to a doctoral program. Candidates often can tailor their programs to meet their research interests.
Examples of specific research options include stream restoration, natural resource management or tectonics. After completing any necessary coursework, you’ll likely have to write and defend a thesis or complete a project to graduate.
Graduates of master’s degree programs in geology can pursue a number of employment opportunities in the corporate, nonprofit or government sectors. Following are some popular career options: soil scientist, seismologist, geologist, and petrologist.
Average beginning salary $62,300; mid-career salary: $103,000
See: 50 Best Online Master’s in Organizational Leadership
Master’s degree programs in communication leadership provide an advanced overview of leadership theory and organization logistics in business.
The level of coursework in a Communication Leadership master’s program is very advanced in nature and requires a professional level of knowledge of communication and business. Students in this program spend a significant portion of their time in independent research for their final thesis or project. The curriculum consists of coursework and seminars in the following topics: innovative communication, intercultural communication, new media strategy, social factors in communication, communication technology, and organizational leadership.
With a master’s degree in communication leadership, graduates can pursue a variety of positions in which proven leadership qualities and communication expertise are highly valued. Graduates could be considered for the following careers: business communication consultant, public relations consultant, life coach, and media manager.
- ACUTE CARE NURSE PRACTITIONER
Average beginning salary $87,300; $106,400
Acute care nurse practitioners work with patients who have serious conditions, which often require surgery. These professional’s work environments vary from hospitals to nursing homes. Acute care nurse practitioners must hold both undergraduate and graduate degrees in nursing as well as a state nursing license.
Graduate programs in acute care nursing may require an applicant to be a licensed RN with the state in which the program is located or to have previous critical care experience. These programs include advanced scientific coursework in pharmacology, patho-physiology, epidemiology and practice-related topics like patient care management. Many programs include clinical training requirements in addition to the coursework.
- INFORMATION SECURITY
Average beginning salary $72,100; mid-career salary: $106,600
See: 50 Best Online Master’s in Cybersecurity
Master’s programs in information security, also known as computer security programs, provide theoretical and practical training in the software and technology used to protect important data. These master’s degree programs tend to be highly interactive and hands-on, with significant project-based instruction.
Courses in a master’s degree program in information security combines training in the principles of security with experiential learning in the practices employed to keep systems secure, such as: Information security theory, database security, secure software design, intrusion detection and response, encryption principles, and computer forensics.
Graduates of master’s degree programs in information security are qualified for a multitude of computer-based administrative, analytical and managerial positions, including: database administrator, network systems intrusion forensic analyst, and information technology security manager.
- PROJECT MANAGEMENT
40 Project Management
Average beginning salary $66,600; mid-career salary: $107,800
See: 50 Best Online Master’s in Project Management
Very simply, a Master of Project Management program teaches students the concepts of organizing, evaluating, and completing business projects. These programs build on the general concepts learned through experience and undergraduate training.
Throughout a curriculum, students apply project management tools and resources to actual or simulated projects to determine effectiveness. In addition to coursework, students may complete individual, or group projects. Possible course topics may include: fundamentals of project management, resource management, strategic project approaches, electronic management tools and team leadership.
Because project management is an essential skill in many industries, from construction to computers, graduates can find a variety of jobs. Often, individuals need experience in those industries before they may become project managers. Possible career options include: project manager, information systems manager, quality analyst, sales manager, project management consultant, and industrial production manager.
Average beginning salary $66,200; mid-career salary: $108,400
Students enrolled in either a Master of Arts or Master of Science degree program in statistics can learn about advanced strategies for collecting, analyzing and presenting data. Programs can be offered both as thesis and non-thesis options, which could be the difference between M.S. and M.A. programs
Master’s degree programs in statistics teach students to determine how concepts such as probability theory and regression analysis can be applied to real-world situations to solve problems in a variety of settings. Because statistics is a wide branch of mathematics, students can often choose to specialize in areas such as linear models, statistical genetics and bioinformatics.
Statisticians are in demand in several different fields. They are typically responsible for producing and analyzing data that can affect an entire business or organization. Some specific jobs available for graduates of a master’s degree program in statistics include: biomathematician, biostatician, educational testing statistician, medical statistician, public health statistician.
- INDUSTRIAL ENGINEERING
38 Industrial Engineering
Average beginning salary $69,200; mid-career salary: $112,000
Master’s degree programs in industrial management cover engineering and business subjects. Students pursuing industrial management master’s degrees must study industrial facilities management, systems analysis, and international trade.
An M.S in Industrial Management covers issues such as transportation and accounting related to the production of goods. Earning a Master of Science in Industrial Management degree usually requires completion of a research-based thesis conducted under the supervision of a faculty adviser, though some programs offer comprehensive examinations as an alternative capstone experience for those earning the master’s degree. Industrial management courses include the following: management information systems, human factors in engineering and engineering management.
Individuals with master’s degrees in industrial management may find jobs in the following manufacturing, finance, and transportation occupations: systems manager, operations consultant, manufacturing director, production supervisor, and transportation coordinator.
- HUMAN COMPUTER INTERACTION
37 Human Computer Interaction
Average beginning salary $82,500;mid-career salary: $112,700
The interdisciplinary Master of Science in Human–Computer Interaction (HCIM) provides the opportunity for advanced, systematic study of how to design, evaluate, and implement new information technologies that are understandable, usable, and appealing to a wide variety of people.
The program prepares students to become human-computer interaction (HCI) leaders in industry and government, or to enable them to be successful in doctoral work in a particular specialization of HCI.
HCI graduates are qualified candidates to meet a range of industry and government work force needs, including technical project managers, technology evaluators, and user interface developer.
- INFORMATION ASSURANCE
Average beginning salary $66,200; mid-career salary: $112,900
Master’s degree programs in information assurance combine coursework in computer science, information technology and the social sciences to teach students about data protection. Students learn to relate IA methods to the overall legal and cultural aspects of data security, personal identity protection and computer networking.
The coursework in MSIA programs is interdisciplinary, covering computer technology, criminology and business concepts. Students typically complete research papers or group projects before earning their degree. Students are often required to take classes on the subjects below: IA technology, information assurance history and theory, identity theft protection, computer forensics, computer network security.
People who earn a master’s degree in information assurance qualify for management positions with consulting groups, corporations and the government. Graduates often choose the following careers: IT manager, network security consultant, and government information security specialist.
Average beginning salary $72,100; mid-career salary: $113,400
Students interested in pursuing a master’s degree program in telecommunications can specialize in information security, computer networking, or telecommunications business management. These programs commonly lead to the Master of Science in Telecommunication Systems or Master of Telecommunications and Software Engineering.
Students often learn about telecommunications technologies through in-depth lab work. Non-thesis options are available in many programs. Topics of study may include: communication engineering principles, operating systems, telecommunication signals, system protocols, performance assessments, and communications security.
Telecommunication job opportunities are available with cable providers, telephone companies and Internet providers, as well as a wide variety of high-technology companies. Those who possess a master’s degree in telecommunications can work as a: telecommunications consultant, network analyst, systems engineer, network administrator, network architect, and systems developer.
- ECONOMICS (MASTER’S DEGREE)
34 Economics – Masters
Average beginning salary $61,600; mid-career salary: $113,600
As opposed to an Economics Master’s of Business Administration (MBA) degree (see #6), this 2-year master’s degree program in economics provides a high level of understanding in economic theory. Some schools offer various economic specialization options in areas such as microeconomics, applied economics, financial economics and computational economics.
The coursework in an economics master’s degree program is generally flexible, in order to accommodate the myriad of economic specialties. Curricula usually cover introductory concepts in macro and micro economic theory before students delve into their given specialty. Some of these core concepts may include: economic growth, econometrics, economic forecasting, micro and macroeconomics, and numerical computation.
Although all economists work to monitor and analyze economic information, they may work in a variety of specialized fields at the professional level. Economists may study the financial information of specific industries, companies or time periods. Possible job titles could include: industrial economists, microeconomists, financial economists, and macroeconomists.
- MATERIALS SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING
33 Materials Science and Engineering
Average beginning salary $70,000; mid-career salary: $113,900
Materials science applies elements of physics, engineering and chemistry to the analysis of matter. Materials scientists evaluate a substance’s properties, like strength, durability and elasticity, to determine its suitability for particular applications. Students in a bachelor’s engineering program may take materials science courses; however, specialization in the field is generally done at the master’s level.
Materials scientists study the structure and properties of matter. Students of materials science learn how to analyze all types of materials to determine their usefulness and limitations in applications like construction, manufacturing, nanotechnology and electronics. They examine manufacturing processes to find weaknesses, as well as determine procedures that are more effective.
Engineering schools typically offer materials science at the master’s level, as either a Master of Science in Engineering (MSE) in Material Science and Engineering or a Master of Materials Science and Engineering (MME). Students learn to use assays, chemical analyses and electron microscopy to determine the structure and composition of substances. They use various forms of stress testing to estimate physical characteristics and failure points.
- OPERATIONS MANAGEMENT
32 Operations Management
Average beginning salary $71,700; mid-career salary: $115,000
Most master’s degree programs in operations management are designed with the working professional in mind. These programs cover various methods and tools that can be used to effectively govern people, projects and processes.
Operations management professionals use their knowledge and skills to oversee both capital and human resources. Graduates can pursue management-level positions in the following areas: supply chain management, logistics and transportation, purchasing and quality control, production lines, manufacturing, and operations analysis.
- INFORMATION SYSTEMS
31 Information Systems
Average beginning salary $58,800; mid-career salary: $115,200
Applicants to a Master of Information Systems program should have a bachelor’s degree. They may need to complete some prerequisite courses if their undergraduate degree is not in computer science or business. These programs are designed to prepare students for management jobs in information technology through a combination of business and computer courses. Some programs allow students to choose an area in which to specialize, such as project management or information systems security.
Required courses for an online master’s degree in information systems vary widely, depending on whether the program is more business or technology focused. Some programs require core courses in areas like statistics, economics, finance and marketing, while others require courses in areas that include networks, database management and systems analysis. Many programs allow students to choose a specialty area, such as software development, interactive design, healthcare information technology and geographic information systems.
- OPERATIONS AND SUPPLY CHAIN MANAGEMENT
30 Operations and Supply Chain Management
Average beginning salary $74,800; mid-career salary: $115,800
A master’s degree program in operations and supply chain management, or simply supply chain management, can prepare students to apply management concepts and principles to the efficient delivery of goods and services.
Applicants to these programs are required to have at least an accredited bachelor’s degree. Some schools may also expect students to have earned a minimum amount of work experience, as well as a basic understanding in areas such as computing, mathematics, accounting, statistics and economics. Students lacking such training may need to complete foundational courses before beginning more advanced graduate study.
Students in such a degree program may gain professional skills in logistical areas, such as warehousing, transport, distribution and packaging, as well as in operational areas, such as product design, development, planning, analysis and manufacturing.
They might also acquire advanced training and knowledge in key supply chain and operations processes, such as customer service coordination, demand planning, life cycle reinforcement and product launching.
Graduates of these degree programs can work in a variety of professional settings, including labor relations, human resources and compensation analysis. Occupations may include: production manager, project engineer, supply chain executive, and operations analyst.
- INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS
29 International Business
Average beginning salary $58,300; mid-career salary: $115,900
Global markets are increasingly vital to the growth of companies in today’s economy. Individuals who are interested in foreign nations and business may want to pursue a Master of Business Administration program concentrating on international business. Admission into an MBA program requires a bachelor’s degree, letters of recommendation, and graduate test scores such as GMAT or GRE. Some programs may also require students to submit a current resume.
Students enrolled in the MBA program will study international issues aspect of the program as well as basic business courses in finance, strategic planning and management. While each master’s degree program varies in their curriculum, some common courses may include: financial accounting, financial management, international marketing, international strategic management, and global finance.
- SOFTWARE ENGINEERING
28 Software Engineering
Average beginning salary $79,100; mid-career salary: $115,900
Software engineers design, execute and test software in computer systems. One of the most common degrees offered at the graduate level in this field is a Master of Science in Software Engineering. In graduate level software engineering programs, students participate in didactic classroom lessons and computer laboratory courses that explore software program development.
As a graduate student, you can expect classroom lectures and laboratory courses that focus on both the concepts and practical skills that go into software engineering such as enterprise software, software architecture, and software engineering requirements and management. Other common classes include: data modeling, quality assurance, testing software programs, project management, user interface design, and developing web applications.
- ENGINEERING MANAGEMENT
Average beginning salary $70,100; mid-career salary: $116,200
A master’s degree in Engineering Management is generally a degree earned by existing engineers who wish to gain the management techniques associated with engineering careers.
Engineers who pursue management positions generally do so after many years of employment as technical staff. Some may already possess master’s degrees in engineering, but lack the management skills necessary to lead. It is not uncommon for employers to help potential engineering managers go back to school to earn a Master of Engineering Management (MEM) degree at the company’s expense. Courses covered in an MEM degree include corporate finance, marketing, statistics and accounting, along with courses in operations management and risk analysis. Due to the ever-changing nature of engineering, these managers must also remain open to pursuing additional coursework to stay current with developing technologies.
The purpose of obtaining a Master’s in Engineering Management is to allow engineers the opportunity to begin managing projects. This degree prepares graduates to perform many of the management functions associated with engineering careers while simultaneously offering instruction in the general management skills that apply across careers, such as finance, marketing, statistics, accounting, and risk analysis.
Average salary $58,200; $116,400
A master’s degree in taxation provides those holding undergraduate degrees in accounting with the credentials needed to pursue careers as tax specialists or tax advisers. The business schools of several large colleges and universities across the United States offer master’s degree in taxation programs.
The program coursework in a taxation master’s degree program generally emphasizes research and covers technical basics, such as tax compliance and planning. Many taxation students also take financial planning courses, such as strategic tax planning, retirement planning, estate planning and bankruptcy tax planning. Some programs might even offer an internship in taxation. Typical basic and advanced courses in this program will cover: tax concepts and tax research, federal taxation and international, corporate taxation and partnership taxation, taxation of individuals, business expenses, deductions and credits, state and local estate and gift taxation.
A master’s degree in taxation prepares students for a wide range of senior or upper-management careers in accounting, taxation or consulting. Some popular job titles for those who hold this master’s degree include: vice-president corporate tax department, senior tax manager, senior tax accountant, senior accountant, tax consultant, tax adviser, and financial analyst.
- AEROSPACE ENGINEERING
25 Aerospace Engineering
Average starting salary $74,400; mid-career salary: $116,500
Students working toward this degree continue to study the theories and principles of aerospace engineering at an advanced level. Curriculum emphasis is on improved understanding of design technologies and the science behind the engineering, and takes between one and two years to complete. Course topics may include: mechanics of materials, mechanical design, control systems design, and structural dynamics.
Graduates may find employment at the entry level in a number of occupations. A few possible career options are: design researcher, engineering services, and aerospace product and part manufacturing.
Average beginning salary $64,700; mid-career salary: $117,100
Master’s degree students in physics explore relationships between time, space, matter and energy. Aspiring scientists and physicists in these programs also learn theoretical and applied research methods.
A Master of Science (M.S.) in Physics program introduces graduate students to advanced topics in the field, including quantum and statistical mechanics. Some schools allow master’s degree candidates to choose an area of concentration, such as astrophysics, biophysics, material physics or nonlinear dynamics. A thesis or research project may be required prior to graduation. Completion of a master’s degree program in physics typically takes two years of study at an accredited college, university or professional school.
Graduates of master’s degree programs in physics may be qualified for a range of positions in research labs or educational institutions, including the following: materials scientist, accelerator physicist, high school or community college physics teacher.
- INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY MANAGEMENT
23 Information Technology Management
Average beginning salary $62,500; mid-career salary: $117,300
A master’s degree program in information technology management often involves the study of database design, supply chain management and the development of emerging technologies.
Information technology management degree programs include courses in both business management and computer science topics in order to prepare students for leadership positions within an IT department or organization.
- SYSTEMS ENGINEERING
22 Systems Engineering
Average beginning salary $76,700; mid-career salary: $117,600
Systems engineering refers to the development of reliable and effective systems. Essentially, it is a combination of components or elements that work together to efficiently generate outcomes that couldn’t be attained by any one component. Utilizing interdisciplinary approaches and methods, the principles of systems engineering can be applied to problem-solving tasks in many industries.
A key facet of systems engineering is the goal of maximizing customer satisfaction while also working within the constraints and needs of a business. A systems engineer’s job is to evaluate a system and assess whether it can meet cost and performance goals on schedule. As such, undergraduate degree programs in systems engineering cover concepts of applied science, technology management, and analytical modeling.
Concentration options in such areas as mechanical systems and telecommunications systems are also commonly offered. Graduate students advance to research concepts, in preparation for advanced careers in academia, government, and private industry.
Systems engineers usually work with computer hardware, but may choose to develop telecommunications networks. Some engineers design products that work on the network’s infrastructure, such as mobile computing devices and smart phones.
- BIOMEDICAL ENGINEERING
21 Biomedical Engineering
Average starting salary $66,800; mid-career salary: $118,400
Biomedical engineering (BME) programs integrate engineering and medical principles to improve healthcare treatment and diagnosis. Much of the work in BME involves research and development. Undergraduate and graduate programs in BME are highly interdisciplinary and customizable to a student’s interests.
Master’s students focus on interdisciplinary training in biology, medicine and engineering, and some programs include options for business classes. Programs typically include thesis and non-thesis tracks. Master’s degree students take courses such as: biomaterials, artificial organs, and tissue engineering.
- MANAGEMENT INFORMATION SYSTEMS (MIS)
Average beginning salary $68,300; mid-career salary: $118,700
A Master of Science in Management Information Systems includes courses in business, communications, computer science and management. Through this program, which is intensive to the sciences, students gain leadership skills that prepare them for positions in information security and communication systems. A bachelor’s degree is a prerequisite for such programs.
Typical coursework may include systems analysis, control and planning, database system management, computer science overview, and project management.
Upon completion of a master’s degree program in management information systems, students can find careers as systems analysts, systems managers, information systems directors, network analysts, database administrators or database architects.
- INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY
19 Information Technology
Average starting salary $70,700; mid-career salary: $119,500
See: 35 Best Online Master’s in Information Technology
In general, a student seeking admission into a Master of Information Technology degree program has earned a baccalaureate degree. Some academic institutions prefer prospective students to have completed courses in statistics and who hold baccalaureate degrees in related fields of study such as computer science, industrial engineering, information technology and library science.
The coursework involved in an information technology master’s degree program can comprise elements of telecommunications, information security, software development, decision support systems, business information systems and networking. Students can find courses that cover topics such as: computer systems, java programming, protocols of network architecture, software design, electronic commerce, and telecommunications.
Information technology is important to modern life and the success of many organizations, since it aids in the efficient transmission, storage and analysis of pertinent information. Graduates can seek employment opportunities in areas such as: public accounting firms, computer auditing, risk management, and corporate computer systems analysis.
- COMPUTER SCIENCE (MASTER’S DEGREE)
Average starting salary $79,700; mid-career salary: $119,500
See: 50 Best Online Master’s in Computer Science
Graduate degree programs in computer science focus on applications of computing technology and computer programming, including artificial intelligence, software engineering and the development of programming languages.
Common core coursework can include: computational applied logic, algorithms, operating systems, software engineering, artificial intelligence, database and network systems.
With a master’s in computer science (MBA in computer science is #7), and some experience in the field, you can be competitive for mid- to high-level positions in computer systems and applications. What positions can you compete for? It depends in part on your previous experience (including experiences in other fields like business, graphics, or biology).
Virtually everyone who has a master’s in the field has a previous baccalaureate degree, and many have at least a few years of experience in the work world. If your previous job hasn’t given you quite the experience you need, though, master’s level internships and graduate projects provide additional opportunities.
- APPLIED MATHEMATICS
17 Applied Mathematics
Average starting salary $62,000; mid-career salary: $121,300
Applied mathematics master’s programs focus on how mathematics is used as a language within various fields other than mathematics. A degree at this level may serve as a complement to undergraduate studies in science, engineering or computers. Flexibility is often allowed with electives to help students tailor their program.
The courses in a master’s level applied mathematics program usually are interdisciplinary, allowing students to study the use of mathematics in various fields. Most programs are designed to allow students to focus on their personal career field. Some examples are: Scientific Computing Courses, where students study the relationship between computers and math. Students explore of how computers can be used to solve mathematic equations and other related problems, or Complex Variable Courses, where you study integral theorems, branch points, Taylor and Laurent series, conformal mapping and Schwarz-Christoffel transformation.
- COMPUTER ENGINEERING
16 Computer Engineering
Average salary $78,200; mid-career salary: $124,700
Computer engineers create and maintain computer systems and may specialize in one aspect of computer engineering, such as hardware or software engineering. Hardware engineers design computer circuitry, disks, chips, printers and other computer devices, while computer software engineers develop computer applications and programs. Good math and analytical skills are necessary for students interested in a career in computer engineering.
- MECHANICAL ENGINEERING
15 Mechanical Engineering
Average beginning salary $80,600; mid-career salary $122,000
Mechanical engineers design and build anything with moving parts, including products as diverse as air conditioners and automobiles. Since mechanical engineering is the broadest of any engineering specialty, those who practice mechanical engineering can pursue careers in the biotechnology, automotive, nuclear energy and aerospace industries.
The Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering allows students to pursue in-depth study in areas such as manufacturing, design, or robotics. Many master’s programs provide students the opportunity to choose a thesis or non-thesis track of study. The non-thesis option might require students to pursue an independent study or take additional courses in place of a thesis. This degree program is also designed to prepare individuals for further educational undertakings, such as a doctoral program.
- CHEMICAL ENGINEERING
14 Chemical Engineering
Average starting salary $73,900; mid-career salary, $122,100
Chemical engineers apply both, the knowledge of chemistry and, the principles of engineering to the chemical industry and thus form the bridge or the link between science and manufacturing. They are involved in a wide variety of activities like equipment design, process developing for chemical manufacture on a large scale, planning and testing ways of producing and the treatment of byproducts as well as supervision of manufacturing activities.
Chemical engineers are employed in not only chemical but also other manufacturing concerns like in the field of electronics, photography, clothing and pulp & paper products. Medicine & healthcare, biotechnology as well as the business industry also holds employment opportunities for chemical engineers.
A masters in this field is intended for chemical engineers looking for advancement in the field. These programs typically include extensive research components, and many students focus their studies in a particular area of specialization within the broad discipline of chemical engineering. Specializations include thermodynamics, nanotechnology, biotechnology and biomedical engineering. Chemical engineering degree programs at the master’s level include many advanced versions of the same courses offered at the bachelor’s degree level. Coursework topics may include: advanced thermodynamics; advanced process systems engineering; and advanced separation processes.
- NUCLEAR ENGINEERING
Average beginning salary $70,500; mid-career salary $122,600
Most entry-level nuclear engineering positions require a bachelor degree, but many advanced research or supervisory jobs are only available to people with a master degree or doctorate. Any engineer who works in the public sector must be licensed by the state. A bachelor degree takes most students four to five years to obtain and master degree or doctorate can take between two to four additional years. The process to obtain a license varies by state, but usually requires engineers to pass a test and work as interns for a certain period. Some courses that students will need to take include engineering analysis, nuclear reactor design, ionizing radiation and nuclear reactor engineering.
Nuclear engineers research and develop the processes, instruments, and systems used to derive benefits from nuclear energy and radiation. They design, develop, monitor, and operate nuclear plants used to generate power. They may work on the nuclear fuel cycle—the production, handling, and use of nuclear fuel and the safe disposal of waste produced by nuclear energy—or on fusion energy. Some specialize in the development of nuclear power sources for spacecraft; others find industrial and medical uses for radioactive materials, such as equipment to diagnose and treat medical problems.
- OPERATIONS RESEARCH
12 Operations Research
Average salary $78,800; mid-career salary: $122,700
Operations research analysts are high-level problem-solvers who use advanced techniques, such as optimization, data mining, statistical analysis and mathematical modeling, to develop solutions that help businesses and organizations operate more efficiently and cost-effectively.
Entry-level professionals often have a bachelor’s degree in math, business or industrial engineering. But most employers favor applicants with a master’s degree. At the graduate level, you’ll find degree programs in operations research, analytics and management science, and some operations research analysts have degrees in other technical fields like engineering or computer science. Coursework in both math and computer science is important, as is keeping up with technological advances and new software and analytical methods.
- CORPORATE FINANCE
11 Corporate Finance
Average starting salary $77,800; mid-career salary: $122,800
See: 50 Best Online Master’s in Finance
Professionals in corporate finance specialize in assisting organizations in generating fund necessary to support and expand business operations, put together acquisitions, manage cash resources, and ensure future economic stability. Working in corporate finance you could find yourself supporting an international company or a local business looking to break into the global market. Professionals hit the ground running, taking on responsibilities and problem solving their way to success.
Financial officers are responsible for the company’s value. For instance, Columbus Ohio’s American electric Power has a financial group that focuses on flexibility, legal compliance, regulatory support, and liquidity. The finance department of the AEP is in charge of creating and instigating financial policy, developing the financing program, directing cash flow, and coordinating with investors and financial organizations.
As long as you perform well, corporate finance positions are comparatively stable. Most people in the financial services industry are employed in such areas as commercial banking, corporate finance, financial planning, investment banking, money managing, insurance and real estate.
Almost every firm, government agency and organization have financial managers who oversee the preparation of financial reports, strive to reduce risk, direct investment activities and implement cash management strategies.
- ELECTRICAL ENGINEERING
10 Electrical Engineering
Average starting salary: $78,200; mid-career salary: $124,700
See: 50 Best Online Master’s in Finance
The profession of electrical engineering demands a strong foundation in physical science and mathematics, a broad knowledge of engineering techniques, and an understanding of the relation between technology and society.
Interconnections between electrical and systems engineering are creating a fresh vision of knowledge, its uses, and its users. The program gives students the theoretical foundation and the interdisciplinary skills needed to deal with the new ideas and new applications that are the hallmarks of modern electroscience.
Coursework might include a study of electromagnetics, photonics and nanotechnology.
Average salary $68,300; mid-career salary: $126,800
See: 50 Best Online Master’s in Finance
The MBA in Finance degree provides the enrolled students training in the fundamentals of finance. It also enables students in developing a balance between the technical finance courses needed to work in financial institutions, and the overall management skills needed in all business situations.
he MBA in Finance online program prepares you to enter or advance in a number of careers – from investment banking to securities to small business development. Coursework generally includes learning practical, valuable skills in areas such as marketing, strategic management and information technology, which you can apply in any work setting.
- MARKETING AND INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS
8 Marketing and International Business
Average beginning salary $61,700; mid-career salary: $128,200
The International Marketing MBA covers fundamental approaches of understanding markets, competitors, product portfolios and consumer behavior from an international perspective. It emphasizes current developments in e-marketing strategies and changes in advertising and the use of media. This program equips graduates with the necessary tools, skills and mindset required to be effective international marketers.
Course-work will generally include studies of global economics, finance and strategic management.
An MBA in Marketing can open a number of professional doors to opportunities in a wide range of fields. Career paths graduates with an MBA degree in marketing can pursue include: creative advertising agencies, fashion marketing, film marketing and publicity, biotech, aviation and pharmaceuticals, freelance consultancy, and teaching.
- COMPUTER SCIENCE (MASTER’S IN BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION, COMPUTER SCIENCE MAJOR)
7 Computer Science MBA
Average starting salary $83,000; mid-career salary: $129,900
While “working with computers” is now a component of nearly every white-collar occupation, there is high demand in a variety of fields for experts with a deeper and principled understanding of computer and information systems: developing rich applications integrated with a database back-end, designing software capable of interoperating with complex network infrastructure, and consulting opportunities involving optimization of client software and hardware, to name a few.
The field of computer science is continually fueling innovation and driving societal changes. With a master’s degree in computer science, you will arm yourself with knowledge of the underlying principles of computer and information systems and theory.
The coursework typically represents a realistic balance between CS foundational theory and applied technical courses. Core classes might include Programming, Algorithms, Databases and Systems coursework. Electives include new and innovative courses to keep up with the fast-paced world of IT including courses in Software Engineering, Big Data, Data Analytics, Machine Learning, High Performance Computing, Mobile Application Development, Web Development and Cloud Computing.
Earning a Master’s in Business Administration Degree in Computer Science prepares students to advance a career in technology research or development. Jobs in the computer science field can typically be found in a company’s information technology department, a government agency or a non-profit entity.
- ECONOMICS (MBA)
Average starting salary $71,400; mid-career salary:$131,800
An Economics MBA aims to develop a very articulate mindset which can put both the profit and market situations together and maximize a business’s potential. Students who take up this degree program learn how to investigate the risks and potentials in investing in both local and foreign markets and make an informed decision based on their research. They also learn to analyze international finance markets and trade.
Graduates of an Economics MBA program are invaluable when it comes to making decisions regarding pricing of a product, setting its market and advertising it. Graduates are also trained in industrial relations, marketing policies and investment decisions. Thus, Economics MBA graduates are able to set up a business in view of the local market and anticipate its growth and development in terms of both the local and the global market. Because of their vast knowledge of global economy, these students are particularly useful in keeping up with globalization in both their business’s financial and trade decisions, thus optimizing profit and developing a sustainable business.
Some degree courses may offer further specializations within an Economics MBA program such as: urban economics, labor economics, and economic analysis.
- MARKETING MANAGEMENT
Modern business concept
Average starting salary $63,000; mid-career salary: $135,300
A Master of Business Administration in Marketing Management program lets students develop skills to run the marketing branch of a business or corporation through a curriculum incorporating both theory and practice. Courses involve conducting and analyzing extensive market research before putting together marketing campaigns.
Marketing Management programs teach graduate students about product development, management and sales promotion. Many MBA programs in marketing and marketing management place a strong emphasis on social networking, Internet technologies and emerging media platforms, which corporations utilize more and more to market products and services.
Courses in an MBA in Marketing Management program focus on practical strategies and emerging technologies in the marketing field. In addition to studying sales promotion, some common courses in the curriculum cover: product development and design, brand and product management, and new media platforms.
Average starting salary $68,100; mid-career salary: $138,300
An MBA in Entrepreneurship program strengthens your expertise for starting, building, or advising new business ventures. Such a program will provide a foundation in financial accounting, global marketing, operations management, data analysis, and other key disciplines needed to achieve business success.
Common entrepreneurship MBA courses include: generating new startup and venture ideas, new venture feasibility, financing, managing, and marketing new ventures, the legal structures behind a new business, sustaining a startup, and venture capital.
Starting salary $114,040
Programs with concentration in strategy may focus on the domestic or global stage, and class topics follow the educational emphasis. A strategy curriculum often includes courses on executive leadership, global management strategy, managing diversity in an organization, and team building. Other sample courses include: strategic management, global strategy, and industry Analysis.
These programs prepare students to contribute and lead the decision-making process at organizational levels, with the key goals including maximizing profit and anticipating competitor response. Strategic management courses prepare students to assess and evaluate business needs and implement techniques to achieve success. Such programs are widely available with traditional daytime, evening and weekend courses. Most require two years of study. MBA programs with a concentration in strategy usually offer the student a great deal of flexibility in choosing courses to meet his or her needs.
- CERTIFIED REGISTERED NURSE ANESTHETISTS
2 Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists
Starting salary $140,900; mid-career: $162,800
Certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs) administer anesthesia to patients before and after surgical, diagnostic, therapeutic, and obstetrical procedures. They also provide pain management and emergency services, including airway management. CRNAs oversee the health of patients post-surgery. They’re an advanced practice registered nurse.
CRNAs can work independently. Their practice varies by state. They provide anesthetics to patients in every practice setting and for every type of surgery or procedure. They’re the only anesthesia-providers in most rural hospitals.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts a high demand for CRNAs, especially in medically underserved areas such as rural areas and inner cities.
CRNAs need at least a master’s degree from an accredited nurse anesthesia educational program. The programs take 24 to 36 months to complete, and require a current registered nurse’s license.
CRNAs have to pass a national certification examination and have at least one year of work experience in an acute-care nursing setting, such as a surgical intensive-care unit or a medical intensive-care unit.
- PETROLEUM ENGINEERING
1 Petroleum Engineering
Average starting salary: $102,800. Mid-career: $187,600
A petroleum engineer is involved in nearly all of the stages of oil and gas field evaluation, development and production. The aim of their work is to maximize hydrocarbon recovery at minimum cost while maintaining a strong emphasis on reducing environmental impact.
Petroleum engineers are divided into several groups: petroleum geologists: who find hydrocarbons by analyzing subsurface structures with geological and geophysical methods; reservoir engineers: who work to optimize production of oil and gas via proper well placement, production levels and enhanced oil recovery techniques. They use computer simulations to assist in the identification of risks and to make forecasts on reservoir potential. Production engineers: who manage the interface between the reservoir and the well through such tasks as perforations, sand control, artificial lift, downhole flow control and downhole monitoring equipment. They also select surface equipment that separates the produced fluids (oil, natural gas and water). And drilling engineers: who manage the technical aspects of drilling both production and injection wells. They work in multidisciplinary teams alongside other engineers, scientists, drilling teams and contractors.
Typical courses would include Reservoir Engineering, Well Logging, Well Drilling and Completion, and Petroleum Production Operations support.