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

    BETHLEHEM, PA—What impact does earning an advanced degree have on a college graduate’s starting salary? Earning a master’s degree can make a significant difference, according to a new report from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE).

    NACE’s Winter 2020 Salary Survey found that a Class of 2020 graduate earning a bachelor’s degree in business administration is projected to earn a starting salary of $58,166. However, the projected starting salary jumps nearly $21,000 for a graduate with an M.B.A. (See Figure 1.)

    The differential between average starting salaries for Class of 2020 computer science majors is also significant. A graduate with a bachelor’s degree in computer science is projected to earn a starting salary of $68,668, while a computer science major earning a master’s degree this year is expected to earn $80,142, a differential of more than $11,000.  

    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 $58,166 $79,043 $20,877
    Computer science $68,668 $80,142 $11,474
    Source: Winter 2020 Salary Survey, National Association of Colleges and Employers

    About Salary Survey: The Winter 2020 Salary Survey report contains annual salary projections for Class of 2020 college graduates. The figures reported are for base salaries only and do not include bonuses, commissions, fringe benefits, or overtime rates. The report provides the detailed salary projections by academic major and degree level, along with breakouts by both industry and geographic region. Data contained in the report were obtained by surveying NACE employer members from September 16, 2019, through December 2, 2019. A total of 134 surveys were returned—a 14.3 percent response rate. An executive summary of the Winter 2020 Salary Survey is available at

    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 NACE maintains a virtual press room for the media.