Choosing a Master’s Program: Five Highest-Paying Master's Degrees

Find out what types of master’s degree programs are right for you

After earning bachelor’s degrees, many students return to school to pursue additional studies. While not every career path requires an advanced degree, having a master’s degree can set a candidate apart, especially in certain fields. If you want a chance at a higher salary or a more fulfilling career, take some time to consider what types of master’s degree programs can help you achieve your goal.

What master’s degree should you get?

When you’re deciding which type of master’s degree program to pursue, you might want to ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are there jobs? Since graduate school is an investment of both time and money, it’s advisable to learn what salary and career a degree could lead to before settling on a program. Though you may be interested in a certain degree, if there is no demand for it in the foreseeable future, you might consider a different program.

  • Does the career path fit? When choosing a graduate program, your future career should align with your desired lifestyle. For example, if you’re not interested in a traditional office environment, completing an MBA might not be ideal: Though the MBA could net you a higher salary, if you won’t be comfortable in the required setting, it’s likely not a realistic long-term option.

  • Do you qualify for the program? Before you set your mind on a degree, be sure to check what undergraduate degree or job experience may be required before applying for a particular type of master’s degree program.

What are the highest paying master’s degrees?

When you’re considering what master’s degree to pursue, review the following five in-demand careers, according to and the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

1. Petroleum Engineering

If you have a bachelor’s degree in mechanical or chemical engineering, getting a master’s degree in this rapidly growing field could be a wise investment. Petroleum engineers are tasked with finding ways to extract oil and gas out of both old and new wells. They are also responsible for ensuring the equipment needed for this task works correctly. High starting and mid-career salaries make this one of the highest-paying master’s degrees.

Starting salary: $102,800

Mid-career salary: $187,600

2. Nurse Anesthesia

Falling under the category of advance practice registered nurses (APRN), a nurse anesthetist prepares a patient to undergo general or localized anesthesia before surgery. These nurses stay with patients during their procedures to monitor vital signs and adjust medication as needed. They may also be involved in emergency services and pain management. While licensing requirements vary from state to state, these professionals are in high demand throughout the country.

Starting salary: $140,900

Mid-career salary: $162,800

3. Electrical Engineering

If you have a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering or a related field, you may find it beneficial to return to school for a master’s degree. As the name implies, electrical engineers are involved in the creation, testing and manufacturing of electrical equipment. While job growth in this area may be slower than other industries, it is expected to remain steady as technology advances.

Starting salary: $78,200

Mid-career salary: $124,700

4. Computer Science & Engineering/Electrical & Computer Engineering

These related fields are both among the highest-paying master’s degrees. People in these disciplines develop and test computer software and hardware, and frequently collaborate to develop cutting-edge computer technology. Both the computer science and engineering and electrical and computer engineering fields are expanding thanks to technological innovation in the consumer, business, industrial and government sectors.

Starting salary: $78,700

Mid-career salary: $123,300

5. Operations Research

Rounding out this list of the highest-paying master’s degrees is operations research, a position that involves using math and analytical data to help businesses and other organizations solve complex problems. People who enter this field often have bachelor’s degrees in computer science, engineering or mathematics. Operations research is expected to grow rapidly as institutions become larger and their needs more elaborate.

Starting salary: $78,800

Mid-career salary: $122,700

Finance your higher education with options from Citizens Bank

While there are plenty of high-paying undergraduate degrees, a master's degree can often enhance your career prospects, both financially and with respect to the amount of job opportunities available. Once you've decided which master's degree program to pursue, make sure you consider your graduate student loan options. Citizens Bank’s private graduate student loan is a competitive lending option to help you manage the costs of your higher education. If you have questions about the Citizens Bank Student Loan™, contact a Student Lending Specialist today.

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