Top 20 Highest Salary College Majors

Go to college, study hard, graduate, get a job, and get rich. 

If only it were that simple. 

The easiest way to get rich is to start on the right foot — with a job that pays handsomely and opens up a world of lucrative growth opportunities. A glance at the list of the world’s top 10 richest people reveals that seven built their fortunes in tech. So, if you’re a tech major, you’re off to a good start. 

Where does that leave graduates with humanities, arts, or business degrees?  

To answer this question, we’ve compiled a list of the 20 highest-paying college majors in the U.S., as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Note that the dollar figures for the following majors are median annual salaries and not “average” pay. 

The takeaway is that a popular major doesn’t automatically guarantee you lucrative pay. You still have to work on sharpening your interviewing skills to snag incredible growth opportunities and win industry-leading salaries in your chosen field. 

Besides listing the pay, we’ve also included data on the projected demand for jobs in each field in the job outlook column. In many fields, the number of jobs is estimated to grow, while the numbers don’t look promising in a few others. This could help you decide whether you should consider shifting gears to another field to build a lucrative career. 

Check out these top 20 highest-salary college majors for freshers. 

Top 20 High-Paying College Majors for Undergrads

No. Major Median Annual Pay Job Outlook, 2020 to 2030
1 Finance $131,710 17% (much faster than average growth)
2 Petrochemical Engineering $130,850  8% (faster than average)
3 Software Development $109,020 25% (much faster than average)
4 Economics $105,630 6% (average)
5 Chemical Engineering $105,550 14% (much faster than average)
6 Information Security $102,600 35% (much faster than average)
7 Electrical and Electronics Engineering $101,780 3% (slower than average) 
8 Biomedical Engineering $97,410 10% (faster than average)
9 Mathematics and Statistics $96,280 31% (much faster than average)
10 Industrial Engineering $95,300 10% (faster than average)
11 Mechanical Engineering $95,300 2% (slower than average)
12 Management Analysis $93,000 11% (much faster than average)
13 Computer Programming $93,000 −10% (decline)
14 Civil Engineering $88,050 7% (average)
15 Operations Research and Data Science $82,360 23% (much faster than average)
16 Architecture $80,180 3% (slower than average)
17 Nursing  $77,600 6% (average)
18 Fashion Design $77,450 3% (slower than average)
19 Accounting and Auditing  $77,250 6% (average)
20 Public Relations $62,800 8% (faster than average)

Unsurprisingly, STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) careers rank high when it comes to paying the highest salaries for undergraduates. Choosing a major in these fast-growing fields can help you earn a higher salary as soon as you leave college. 

That said, fixating only on the numbers doesn’t serve you in the long run. Make sure to consider other crucial factors like your aptitude for STEM, work-life balance, and passion for your chosen industry to make an informed career decision.

You might have noticed that popular career paths like law and medicine are missing from this list. This is because we’ve focused only on starting salaries and haven’t considered lifetime earnings in our calculations, as they vary based on career trajectory and further education. For example, undergraduates in law and medicine usually don’t earn a big, fat paycheck right out of college like professionals in tech do. But their earnings are likely to soar after completing their master’s degree and gaining a few years of experience. 

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