The 10 majors that lead to the highest-earning grads

It's no surprise that STEM fields are the most lucrative, but liberal arts are up there, too

The job search site Glassdoor on Monday released a study ranking the 50 college majors that lead to the highest-paying jobs during the first five years after college. 

For the study, Glassdoor analyzed nearly 500,000 resumes uploaded to the job search platform. To determine each major's median base salary, Glassdoor compared career progression data within the job searchers' first five years of graduating with corresponding salary data. All majors that Glassdoor considered for the study were listed on at least 400 separate resumes.

The top ten majors with the highest median base salaries are:

  1. Computer Science, $70,000;
  2. Electrical Engineering, $68,438;
  3. Mechanical Engineering, $68,000;
  4. Chemical Engineering, $65,000;
  5. Industrial Engineering, $64,381;
  6. Information Technology, $64,008;
  7. Civil Engineering, $61,500;
  8. Statistics, $60,000;
  9. Nursing, $58,928; and
  10. Management Information Systems, $58,000.

Consistent with past research, the top earners are those with STEM degrees: eight of the 10 top earning majors are related to engineering or technology, and mathematics and science majors rank within the top 20. Mathematics came in the 12th slot with a median base salary of $54,018, and physics came in 16th, with a median base salary of $50,000.

Are students choosing schools based on employment outcomes?

While STEM fields may be the most lucrative, the study finds humanities majors also can yield comfortable salaries. History, journalism, and philosophy majors rank 26th, 28th, and 30th, respectively (Berry, Glassdoor, 10/17; Douglas-Gabriel, "Grade Point," Washington Post, 10/17). 

Plus, the university and the major are not the most important factors in a graduate's salary; they're just easiest to measure.

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