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  • Earning a Master’s Degree Can Have a Substantial Impact on Salary

    BETHLEHEM, PA—What difference does obtaining a master’s degree make in a college graduate’s starting salary? The impact can be substantial, reaching into the tens of thousands of dollars, according to a new survey report from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE).

    For example, results of NACE’s Winter 2019 Salary Survey show that a Class of 2019 graduate earning a bachelor’s degree in business administration is projected to earn a starting salary of $57,133. However, a Class of 2019 graduate with an M.B.A. can expect to earn $84,580 for a differential of nearly $27,500. (See Figure 1.)

    Historically, earning an advanced degree has been especially beneficial for those in non-career-related fields, such as humanities, impacting career prospects and opportunities as well as salary. However, holding a master’s degree can also reap benefits for those in career-related fields, including in terms of salary.

    While less pronounced than that between bachelor’s-and master’s-level business graduates, the differential between average starting salaries for Class of 2019 computer science majors is still significant. A graduate with a bachelor’s degree in computer science is projected to earn a starting salary of $68,103, while a computer science major earning a master’s degree this year is expected to earn $82,275, for a difference of more than $14,000.

    Figure 1: Salary Differential Between Students Who Earn Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees

    Major

    Average Starting Salary by Degree Level

    Differential

    Bachelor’s Degree

    Master’s Degree

    Business administration

    $57,133

    $84,580

    $27,447

    Computer science

    $68,103

    $82,275

    $14,172

    Source: Winter 2019 Salary Survey, National Association of Colleges and Employers

    About Salary Survey: The Winter 2019 Salary Survey report contains annual salary projections for Class of 2019 college graduates. The figures reported are for base salaries only and do not include bonuses, commissions, fringe benefits, or overtime rates. The data contained in NACE's Winter 2019 Salary Survey were collected from August 1, 2018, through December 3, 2018. A total of 186 surveys were returned for a 20 percent response rate. An executive summary of the Winter 2019 Salary Survey report is available on the NACE website.  

    About NACE: Since 1956, the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) has been the leading source of information about the employment of college graduates. For more information, visit www.naceweb.org. NACE maintains a virtual press room for the media.