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.

Last week we showed you the 10 most useless graduate degrees. Now, here are the ones that are most worth it and will really make a difference in your career.

As with our list of the most useless graduate degrees, we used examined salary and unemployment data for experienced college graduates and graduate degree holders from this summer’s “Hard Times” report from the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce.

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.

The list for the most useful degrees spans several distinct fields — from humanities to sciences to education. However, all of these degrees will help you make more money and face a lower unemployment rate.

#10 Philosophy and Religious Studies

Experienced College Grad Earnings: $US48,000
Graduate Degree Holder Earnings: $US62,000

Experienced College Grad Unemployment: 7.3%
Graduate Degree Holder Unemployment: 4.0%

#8 General Engineering

Experienced College Grad Earnings: $US77,000
Graduate Degree Holder Earnings: $US98,000

Experienced College Grad Unemployment: 4.8%
Graduate Degree Holder Unemployment: 2.3%

#7 Area Ethnic and Civilisation Studies

Experienced College Grad Earnings: $US55,000
Graduate Degree Holder Earnings: $US73,000

Experienced College Grad Unemployment: 7.2%
Graduate Degree Holder Unemployment: 3.9%

#6 International Relations

Experienced College Grad Earnings: $US68,000
Graduate Degree Holder Earnings: $US95,000

Experienced College Grad Unemployment: 6.8%
Graduate Degree Holder Unemployment: 3.7%

#5 Special Needs Education

Experienced College Grad Earnings: $US45,000
Graduate Degree Holder Earnings: $US58,000

Experienced College Grad Unemployment: 4.5%
Graduate Degree Holder Unemployment: 1.9%

#4 General Science

Experienced College Grad Earnings: $US56,000
Graduate Degree Holder Earnings: $US83,000

Experienced College Grad Unemployment: 3.9%
Graduate Degree Holder Unemployment: 2.3%

#3 Elementary Education

Experienced College Grad Earnings: $US41,000
Graduate Degree Holder Earnings: $US55,000

Experienced College Grad Unemployment: 3.7%
Graduate Degree Holder Unemployment: 1.4%

#2 Chemistry

Experienced College Grad Earnings: $US65,000
Graduate Degree Holder Earnings: $US99,000

Experienced College Grad Unemployment: 5.6%
Graduate Degree Holder Unemployment: 2.4%

#1 Biology

Experienced College Grad Earnings: $US57,000
Graduate Degree Holder Earnings: $US90,000

Experienced College Grad Unemployment: 5.1%
Graduate Degree Holder Unemployment: 1.7%

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

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