Master’s Degree Salary Guide (2024)

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Learn about the average salaries associate with master's degrees, plus get a list of the highest paying master's degrees.

[Featured image] Master's degree students study in a computer lab, sitting along a long table in front of laptops. One student kneels alongside another and they share a screen.

Earning a master’s degree comes with several benefits, but perhaps the most enticing are salary and career growth prospects.

Several factors may make a master’s degree worth pursuing for you. In general, master’s degrees are associated with higher salaries, lower unemployment rates, greater lifetime earnings, and increased career advancement opportunities compared with lower education levels, such as a bachelor’s degree or high school diploma.

In this article, we’ll focus on the average salary for people with a master’s degree.

Average salary with a master’s degree

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), people with a master’s degree in the United States earn a median of $1,574 weekly, which roughly translates to $81,848 annually [1].

Overall, people with a master’s degree tend to earn more money than those with a bachelor’s degree, associate degree, or high school diploma but less than those with a doctorate or professional degree. Generally, the higher your education credentials, the more money you stand to make. Additionally, people with higher education credentials tend to experience lower unemployment rates.

Here’s a look at salary data across all education levels, according to the BLS [1]:

Highest degreeMedian weekly earningEstimated annual earningsUnemployment rate
High school diploma$809$42,0686.2%
Associate degree$963$50,0764.6%
Bachelor’s degree$1,334$69,3683.5%
Master’s degree$1,574$81,8482.6%
Doctorate degree$1,909$99,2681.5%
Professional degree$1,924$100,0481.8%

Keep in mind that this data is generated from salaries across all fields, industries, and locations, and these can be important factors to consider when trying to forecast your potential earnings at any education level.

Does a master’s degree increase your salary?

Earning a master’s degree won’t automatically increase your salary, but with a master’s degree, you may qualify for higher paying positions or career advancement opportunities. Learn more about whether a master’s degree is worth the investment for you.


Highest paying master’s degrees

Your anticipated salary with a master’s degree will, in part, depend on your field of study. In specific fields, a master’s degree is a widely accepted way to demonstrate advanced skills development and expertise. In others, a master’s degree may have less of an impact on your expected salary.

According to a survey from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), the master’s degree disciplines with the highest average starting salary are engineering, computer science, math and sciences, and business. Business, computer science, and engineering degrees are also the most in-demand master’s degrees among employers [2].

Here are the average starting salaries for a selection of master’s degrees, according to NACE [2]:

Master’s degree majorAverage starting salary (2022)
Computer engineering$87,548
Software engineering$86,432
Computer science$85,894
Information sciences and systems$78,683
Business administration/management$73,318
Healthcare administration$71,112
Logistics/supply chain$70,950

Jobs that require a master’s degree

For certain job functions, a master’s degree can be a typical entry-level requirement. This tends to be more prevalent in careers requiring in-depth knowledge or professional licenses, such as health care or education administration.

Here are the median salaries and projected growth rates for roles with a master’s degree as the typical entry-level education, according to the BLS [3]:

OccupationMedian salary (2021)Growth rate (2021-2031)
Computer and information research scientists$131,49021%
Nurse practitioners$123,78040%
Physician assistants$121,53028%
Education administrators (postsecondary)$96,9107%
Urban and regional planners$78,5004%
Survey researchers$59,7406%
Social workers$50,3909%
An infographic that reads: A university degree built for you. Enjoy flexible scheduling and self-paced coursework.

Is a master’s degree right for you?

If you are considering pursuing a master’s degree to increase your salary, it’s worth researching the types of master’s degrees that best position you to reach your salary and career goals.

For example, if your goal is to earn a specific salary, you may start by researching the types of roles in your field that tend to earn salaries within your desired range, then look into the typical education expectations for those roles. Or, if your goal is to reach a top-paying position in a specific role, you may scour job descriptions or research the typical education path of the people currently in those top-paying positions.

Websites like the BLS’s Occupational Outlook Handbook or Zippia tend to offer these types of salary and education insights. Approaching your education thoughtfully can enable you to pursue the advancement path that’s worth the investment for you, whether that’s a master’s degree, certificate program, or otherwise.

Keep learning

Continue your education on Coursera. Browse online master’s degree programs in business, public health, data science, and computer science from world-class institutions like the University of Illinois, the University of Michigan, Northeastern University, and the University of Pennsylvania. 

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Article sources


US Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Education pays, 2021,” Accessed February 6, 2023.

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This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.