The 10 most useful graduate degrees

It can take years and thousands of dollars to get a graduate degree, but the benefits are often worth the investment.

We recently showed you the 10 most useless graduate degrees. Now, here are the ones most likely to help your career.

As with our list of the most useless graduate degrees, we looked at the recent “Hard Times” report from the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce to assess the value of a graduate degree.

This report included salary and unemployment data for experienced college graduates and graduate degree holders.

We calculated the per cent difference in how much more money a graduate degree will bring, as well as how much of a better chance you will have of finding a job. The higher the combined figure was for a field of study, the more useful the graduate degree.

7. Language and Drama Education

An experienced graduate degree holder earns 33% more than a college graduate, and the unemployment rate is 45% lower.

Experienced college grads earn an average of $US48,000 a year, while experienced graduate degree holders earn $US64,000 a year, on average.

4.2% of experienced college grads are unemployed. 2.3% of experienced graduate degree holders are unemployed.

6. Political Science and Government

An experienced graduate degree holder earns 32% more than a college graduate, and the unemployment rate is 47% lower.

Experienced college grads earn an average of $US74,000 a year, while experienced graduate degree holders earn $US98,000 a year, on average.

5.8% of experienced college grads are unemployed. 3.1% of experienced graduate degree holders are unemployed.

5. Area Ethnic and Civilisation Studies

An experienced graduate degree holder earns 52% more than a college graduate, and the unemployment rate is 33% lower.

Experienced college grads earn an average of $US58,000 a year, while experienced graduate degree holders earn $US88,000 a year, on average.

6% of experienced college grads are unemployed. 4% of experienced graduate degree holders are unemployed.

4. Elementary Education

An experienced graduate degree holder earns 31% more than a college graduate, and the unemployment rate is 59% lower.

Experienced college grads earn an average of $US45,000 a year, while experienced graduate degree holders earn $US59,000 a year, on average.

3.4% of experienced college grads are unemployed. 1.4% of experienced graduate degree holders are unemployed.

3. Special Needs Education

An experienced graduate degree holder earns 31% more than a college graduate, and the unemployment rate is 63% higher.

Experienced college grads earn an average of $US49,000 a year, while experienced graduate degree holders earn $US64,000 a year, on average.

4.9% of experienced college grads are unemployed. 1.8% of experienced graduate degree holders are unemployed.

*Numbers from 2010-2011

2. Chemistry

An experienced graduate degree holder earns 52% more than a college graduate, and the unemployment rate is 59% higher.

Experienced college grads earn an average of $US73,000 a year, while experienced graduate degree holders earn $US111,000 a year, on average.

5.6% of experienced college grads are unemployed. 2.3% of experienced graduate degree holders are unemployed.

1. Biology and Life Science

An experienced graduate degree holder earns 60% more than a college graduate and the unemployment rate is 58% higher.

Experienced college grads earn an average of $US65,000 a year, while experienced graduate degree holders earn $US104,000 a year, on average.

4.5% of experienced college grads are unemployed. 1.9% of experienced graduate degree holders are unemployed.

Now that you've seen which graduate degrees are the most helpful, here are the ones you should avoid.

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