Premium Schools’ 10 Most Valuable Bachelor’s Degree Majors for 2021

Attending college is touted as the path to profitable careers. Professionals with bachelor’s degrees do earn 57 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 $30,000. That’s tough to swallow when the average undergraduate tuition at private U.S. universities is over $46,950 each year!

most valuable bachelor's degree

Table of Contents

The Most Valuable Bachelor’s Degree Majors with generous salaries and high demand!

Petroleum Engineering

petroleum engineering

Average Starting Salary: $79,270
Average Mid-Career Salary: $137,720

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 3 percent through 2029. 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:

Computer Science

computer science

Average Starting Salary: $69,990
Average Mid-Career Salary: $122,840

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 percent. Job opportunities like IT systems analyst, data architect, and a computer scientist are numerous.

Great Programs to Consider:

Actuarial Mathematics

actuarial mathematics

Average Starting Salary: $64,860
Average Mid-Career Salary: $108,350

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 the 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:

Software Engineering

software engineering

Average Starting Salary: $64,240
Average Mid-Career Salary: $107,510

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 study 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 of 22 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:

Management Information Systems

mis management information systems

Average Starting Salary: $87,480
Average Mid-Career Salary: $146,360

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 10 percent. Most MIS graduates strive to become information systems managers, network administrators, IT project managers, and business analysts.

Great Programs to Consider:

Biomedical Engineering

biomedical engineering

Average Starting Salary: $55,280
Average Mid-Career Salary: $91,410

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 as fast as average by 5 percent through 2029. 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:

Physics

physics

Average Starting Salary: $59,420
Average Mid-Career Salary: $114,590

Completing a bachelor’s degree in physics can accelerate your career in 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 7 percent.

Great Programs to Consider:

Statistics

statistics

Average Starting Salary: $58,100
Average Mid-Career Salary: $105,030

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 33 percent. Statistics majors excel as actuaries, market researchers, biostatisticians, data analysts, and more.

Great Programs to Consider:

Economics

economics

Average Starting Salary: $59,450
Average Mid-Career Salary: $105,020

The big data boom has established pleasing job opportunities for economics majors. Over the next 10 years, openings are projected to grow by 14 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:

Environmental Engineering

environmental engineering

Average Starting Salary: $54,430
Average Mid-Career Salary: $88,860

Global climate change fears are making environmental engineering a hot major. The BLS predicts an average 10-year job growth by 3 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:

Still looking for more valuable bachelor’s degree majors? Notable runners-up to our list:

  • Civil Engineering
  • Materials Science
  • Information Technology
  • Nursing
  • Architecture

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