Premium Schools’ 10 Most Valuable Bachelor’s Degree Majors

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Attending college is touted as the path to profitable careers. Professionals with bachelor’s degrees do earn 62 percent more on average than high school grads. But not all majors lead to sizeable paychecks atop the salary pyramid. Reaping a good return on investment for your college tuition will require carefully picking a bachelor’s degree. In general, majors in the liberal arts and humanities have lower income potential than science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM) and business disciplines. For instance, the average starting salary for early childhood education majors is $29,700. That’s tough to swallow when the average undergraduate tuition at private U.S. universities is $32,090 each year! To help you select the right collegiate course, we’ve outlined the following 10 most valuable bachelor’s degree majors with generous salaries and high demand.

1. Petroleum Engineering

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Average Starting Salary: $102,300
Average Mid-Career Salary: $176,300

Petroleum engineering is a six-figure bachelor’s major rooted in geosciences to prepare students for extracting oil and gas from underground deposits. ABET-accredited petroleum engineering programs teach the latest drilling and fracturing techniques used to force out oil. Typical courses include geology, thermodynamics, physics, chemistry, and sedimentology. Jobs for petroleum engineering majors are expected to grow by 10 percent through 2024. Crumbling crude prices are threatening a shortage of experienced oil workers. Graduates can become drilling engineers, reservoir engineers, production engineers, pipeline integrity engineers, and geological techs.

Great Programs to Consider:
University of North Dakota’s Bachelor of Science in Petroleum Engineering (Online)
University of Houston’s Undergraduate Degree in Petroleum Engineering
Louisiana State University’s Bachelor of Science in Petroleum Engineering

2. Computer Science

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Average Starting Salary: $61,600
Average Mid-Career Salary: $103,600

In today’s digital world, earning a bachelor’s degree in computer science is an excellent bet with a lucrative salary outlook. Computer science majors learn to program software and hardware systems for generating technological innovations. Coursework will explore calculus, computer architecture, data analysis, C++ programming, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, and more. The curriculum may even include industry certification from Oracle, Microsoft, or Cisco. Computer science graduates enter a workforce poised for 10-year growth at 15.9 percent. Job opportunities like IT systems analyst, data architect, and computer scientist are numerous.

Great Programs to Consider:
California Institute of Technology’s Undergraduate Major in Computer Science
Cornell University’s Bachelor of Science in Computer Science
University of Texas at Austin’s Bachelor of Science in Computer Science

3. Actuarial Mathematics

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Average Starting Salary: $60,800
Average Mid-Career Salary: $110,560

Actuarial mathematics majors learn the statistical methods used to analyze financial risks and forecast event probability for creating insurance policies. Bachelor’s programs in actuarial mathematics qualify students to begin the four to six-year process of becoming Associates of the Society of Actuaries (ASA). Coursework will cover statistics, calculus, economics, risk management, insurance planning, interest theory, and linear algebra. According to the BLS, actuarial mathematics jobs will grow by 18 percent over the next decade. Bachelor’s holders could specialize in medical, life, automotive, or property and casualty insurance.

Great Programs to Consider:
University of Pittsburgh’s Bachelor of Science in Actuarial Mathematics
Bryant University’s Bachelor of Science Degree in Actuarial Mathematics
University of Nevada Las Vegas’ Bachelor of Science in Mathematics: Concentration in Actuarial Science

4. Software Engineering

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Average Starting Salary: $61,700
Average Mid-Career Salary: $99,800

Another high-tech major dominating our list is software engineering. Bachelor’s programs in software engineering equip undergraduates with the ability to develop both applications and systems software. Software engineering majors studies the scientific bases of computers to design, evaluate, debug, and maintain cutting-edge software. Programming skills are unsurprisingly in-demand with estimated 10-year job growth at 23.4 percent. Software engineering bachelor’s programs unlock careers like software developer, web designer, mobile applications developer, Java developer, and software QA engineer.

Great Programs to Consider:
Florida Institute of Technology’s Software Engineering Bachelor of Science Degree
Arizona State University’s Bachelor of Science in Software Engineering (Online)
San Jose State University’s Bachelor of Science Program in Software Engineering

5. Management Information Systems

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Average Starting Salary: $56,300
Average Mid-Career Salary: $95,500

Management information systems is a business-oriented bachelor’s degree that teaches students how companies utilize information to improve operations. MIS majors master the skills to develop organizations’ technology systems for the smooth processing of data. Curricula will delve into database design, eCommerce, network security, project management, systems analysis, telecommunication, and IT development. This knowledge is in high demand with 10-year job growth projected at 16.7 percent. Most MIS graduates strive to become information systems managers, network administrators, IT project managers, and business analysts.

Great Programs to Consider:
Washington State University’s Management Information Systems Bachelor’s (Online)
New York University’s Bachelor in Science in Information Systems Management
University of Dayton’s Bachelor of Science in Management Information Systems

6. Biomedical Engineering

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Average Starting Salary: $53,800
Average Mid-Career Salary: $97,800

At the intersection of engineering and biology, undergraduates can pursue a valuable bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering. Bachelor’s majors in biomedical engineering train students to design instruments and devices used in healthcare to support patient well-being. From pacemakers to x-ray machines and artificial joints, biomedical engineers apply engineering principles to resolve clinical problems. Biomedical engineering jobs will grow much faster-than-average by 23 percent through 2024. Graduates can find employment in specialties like biomechanics, bioinstrumentation, and systems physiology. Some earn Juris Doctorates to become medical device patent lawyers.

Great Programs to Consider:
Johns Hopkins University’s Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Engineering
Syracuse University’s Bachelor of Science in Bioengineering
The Ohio State University’s Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Engineering

7. Physics

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Average Starting Salary: $57,200
Average Mid-Career Salary: $105,100

Completing a bachelor’s degree in physics can accelerate your career into the sciences. Physics majors learn the laws that govern our universe’s existence, from subatomic particles to entire galaxies. This lab-oriented bachelor’s program will delve into topics like particle physics, magnetism, electricity, computational physics, thermodynamics, relativity, and cosmology. Following in Albert Einstein’s footsteps as a physicist typically requires an advanced degree. However, physics majors can find bachelor’s-level jobs, such as civil engineer, aerospace engineer, materials scientist, or natural sciences manager. The projected 10-year job growth rate is 11.3 percent.

Great Programs to Consider:
Princeton University’s Undergraduate Physics Program
Georgia Institute of Technology’s Bachelors of Science in Physics
University of Kansas’ Bachelor of Science Degree in Physics

8. Statistics

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Average Starting Salary: $54,900
Average Mid-Career Salary: $103,100

Math lovers have another excellent option for their bachelor’s major – statistics. Bachelor’s programs in statistics teach students the applied mathematical methods for correlating relationships between variables. Statistics majors spend significant time in computer labs collecting, analyzing, interpreting, and organizing data to draw conclusions. The rigorous coursework deals with probability, experimental design, calculus, statistical computing, and regression analysis. The likelihood of finding a lucrative job is high with 10-year job growth at 24 percent. Statistics majors excel as actuaries, market researchers, biostatisticians, data analysts, and more.

Great Programs to Consider:
University of Illinois at Chicago’s Bachelor of Science with a Major in Statistics
University of California Santa Barbara’s Bachelor of Science in Financial Mathematics and Statistics
Case Western Reserve University’s Bachelor of Science in Statistics

9. Economics

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Average Starting Salary: $51,400
Average Mid-Career Salary: $97,700

The big data boom has established pleasing job opportunities for economics majors. Over the next 10 years, openings are projected to grow by 15.3 percent. Bachelor’s degrees in economics study various economic systems like capitalism to understand how monetary resources are made and traded. Economics majors will take courses in comparative economics, econometrics, statistics, finance, international trade, and business analytics. Entry-level jobs for economists are often found in federal and state government agencies. Bachelor’s graduates could also become financial analysts, market researchers, benefits managers, and policy analysts.

Great Programs to Consider:
Pennsylvania State University’s Bachelor of Science in Economics (Online)
Ball State University’s Bachelor’s Degree in Economics
University of Wisconsin Madison’s Undergraduate Major in Economics

10. Environmental Engineering

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Average Starting Salary: $55,900
Average Mid-Career Salary: $91,800

Global climate change fears are making environmental engineering a hot major. The BLS predicts faster-than-average 10-year job growth by 12 percent. Bachelor’s programs in environmental engineering train undergraduates to design and construct systems that protect the planet’s welfare. ABET-accredited environmental engineering degrees build upon the natural sciences with courses in geology, pollution control, hazardous waste management, and water treatment. Environmental engineering students work on real-life projects making the world “green” before taking the FE exam. Bachelor’s graduates can work as environmental engineers, urban planners, environmental scientists, and hydrologists.

Great Programs to Consider:
Michigan Technological University’s Environmental Engineering B.S. Degree
University of Colorado Boulder’s Bachelor of Science in Environmental Engineering
University at Buffalo SUNY’s Bachelor of Science in Environmental Engineering

Still looking for more valuable bachelor’s degree majors? Notable runners-up to our list were civil engineering, materials science, information technology, nursing, and architecture.