Undergraduate Degree Vs. Graduate Degree: Income and Salary Comparison

The income and salary of those with an undergraduate degree verses a graduate degree can vary widely by discipline. Suprisingly, an individual with a graduate degree no longer necessarily earns more than someone with an undergraduate degree.

Undergraduate vs. Graduate Degree Salary

In general, graduates of master's degree programs earn more than those with an undergraduate degree in similar positions. Overall, however, individuals with a bachelor's degree earn slightly more than individuals with a master's degree. Individuals with a professional or doctoral degree earn around $30,000 more than either.

According to 2014 data from the United States Department of Labor, U.S. workers with a bachelor's degree earned a median salary of $69,260, while U.S. workers with a master's degree earned a median salary of $65,330. Meanwhile, someone with a doctoral or professional degree could expect to earn around $98,940.

Salaries for college graduates vary by subject, as well as the level of degree earned. However an individual with a master's degree can expect to earn more than an individual with a bachelor's degree in a similar position. For instance, according to the 2015-2016 College Salary Report done by Payscale, an accountant with a bachelor's degree earned an average salary of $46,900. Meanwhile an accountant with a master's degree earned an average salary of $55,600.

Salary Comparison

The table below shows the average starting salaries according to Payscale's 2015-2016 College Salary Report:

Academic Major Salary with a Bachelor's Degree Salary with a Master's Degree
Biology $40,400 $50,200
Business Administration $45,800 $55,600
Computer Science $63,100 $81,200
Elementary Teacher Education $34,300 $39,700
History $41,100 $44,900
Mathematics $52,400 $63,100
Mechanical Engineering $62,500 $71,600
Nursing $56,600 $82,000
Political Science $43,300 $50,300
Psychology $37,600 $45,200

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