Education July 9, 2017: Harvard and MIT the best universities for the highest earning majors

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EDUCATION

New guides to picking the best major at the best university

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

The seventh annual QS World University Rankings by Subject 2017 had Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) dominate the rankings as the leading universities for a combined 27 subjects including some of the highest earning majors. Wikipedia Commons

The college admission process seems to be preoccupied with university rankings catering to high school seniors choosing the best university they can be admitted to, but choosing a major is equally important if not more for success after graduation. While rankings look at the best universities, recent lists also look at the best majors and the leading universities to matriculate. Michigan State University’s Collegiate Employment Research Institute (CERI) released in October 2016 their 2016–17 Recruiting Trends, which looks at the starting salaries for each major, helping students identify the best moneymakers. QS Quacquarelli Symonds released in March 2017 their World University Rankings by Subject 2017 listing the preeminent universities for particular majors. The seventh annual list had Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) dominate the rankings as the leading universities for a combined 27 majors.

The Michigan State University’s Collegiate Employment Research Institute annual recruiting trends lists the starting salaries of particular college degree majors from the associate level to the doctorate level emphasizing individual majors at the bachelor’s level. As Forbes explained, “Nearly 200 career service centers in the United States participated in the study and 4,350 employers provided information for the report, which includes data on full-time positions, internships, and co-op jobs.”

Forbes went further ranking these majors with the highest and lowest starting salaries. The vast majority of top earners are STEM, Science, Technology, Engineering and Medical degrees, particularly technology and engineering. Electrical engineering, software design, and chemical engineering are the top three degrees for highest starting salaries with graduates on average earning over $60,000 their first year on the job. Chemical Engineering was last year’s top earning degree.

Top ten highest starting salaries degrees:

1 Electrical Engineering: Average starting salary $62,428. Starting salary range $25,000 to #130,000
2 Software Design: Average starting salary $61,466. Starting salary range $25,000 to #134,000
3 Chemical Engineering: Average starting salary $61,125. Starting salary range $31,000 to #125,000
4 Computer Engineering: Average starting salary $61,092. Starting salary range $15,000 to #130,000
5 Mechanical Engineering: Average starting salary $59,610. Starting salary range $15,000 to #134,000
6 Computer Programming: Average starting salary $59,163. Starting salary range $15,000 to #130,000
7 Information Security Systems: Average starting salary $58,798. Starting salary range $19,000 to #123,000
8 Computer Science: Average starting salary $57,762. Starting salary range $15,000 to #130,000
9 Management Information Systems: Average starting salary $57,301. Starting salary range $15,000 to #122,000
10 Technical Engineering: Average starting salary $55,693. Starting salary range $15,000 to #132,000

While STEM majors dominate the highest earners, the Humanities, Social Sciences and Education have lowest earning starting salaries all earning less than $40,000 a year. Early Childhood Education has the lowest starting salary, followed by social work and then anthropology and sociology. Most of the humanities and social science majors listed as the bottom earners require graduate degrees for better positions and higher earnings.

Bottom ten lowest starting salaries degrees:
Pre-K & Kindergarten Education — $35,626
Social work — $37,115
Anthropology/Sociology — $37,672
Elementary education — $37,803
Special education — $38,002
Psychology — $38,079
English — $38,303
History — $38,361

In graduate and professional degrees, the same holds true STEM careers and graduate degrees reign supreme. Business including the coveted MBA and Law degrees are also high earners. Among the master’s degrees, the top three earners are computer science and engineering, as they are top earners at the undergraduate level. The Masters in Business Administration (MBA) comes in third, breaking up the undergraduate STEM monopoly. The top three all have starting salaries above $60,000 a year.

When it comes to doctorate and professional degrees STEM degrees and law dominate the top three, but this time a health science, pharmacy is the top earner. In second are computer science and engineering, while the law is third. The top three subject areas see starting salaries of $74,000 and above. The bottom end earners in the masters, doctoral and professional degrees are the social sciences and humanities subjects just as they were at the bachelor’s level. The only differences are the average starting salaries, at the masters level is just over 48,000, while at the doctoral level is over $58,000 a year, $20,000 more than just stopping at a degree at the bachelor’s level.

Master’s Degrees & MBAs

Computer science: $72,071 $15,000 — $145,000
Engineering: $69,729 $20,000 — $200,000
MBA: $62,700 $10,000 — $151,000
Physical & biological sciences: $59,204 $10,000 — $200,000
Accounting: $58,159 $10,000 — $144,000
LIR/HR: $58,125 $10,000 — $127,000
Health sciences: MS & MSW $53,283 $10,000 — $175,000
Social sciences: MA & MS $48,697 $10,000 — $150,000

PhD and Professional Degrees

Starting Salaries — PhD & Professional
Selected major Average Range
Pharmacy: $89,725 $20,000 — $146,000
Engineering & computer science: $77,811 $20,000 — $168,000
Law: $74,130 $20,000 — $200,000
Physical & biological sciences: $73,422 $20,000 — $141,000
Business: $67,578 $20,000 — $188,000
Social sciences & humanities: $58,897 $16,000 — $123,000

To complement the high-earning majors are the QS Quacquarelli Symonds World University Rankings by Subject 2017, which lets students know the best schools for their chosen major. QS World University Rankings’ annual list included the rankings for 46 subjects. Harvard was deemed the best university, landing on the top of the most subjects, and 15 majors. MIT came in a close second where they led the lists of 12 subjects. The results are a reversal to QS World University Rankings in 2017 and the latest for 2018, where MIT was the top ranking university for the last six years, whereas Harvard has remained in third place for the last two years. The University of Oxford is in third place topping the rankings of four subjects.

QS subject rankings not only lists the top majors, but also subject areas. MIT is the best school for high earning engineering and technology degrees followed by Stanford University in second and Cambridge in third. Harvard is the preeminent place for the Life Sciences & Medicine, Cambridge is second with Oxford third. MIT ranks as the leading school for the Natural Sciences, Cambridge is again second, while Harvard comes in at third. Harvard is again on the top as the leading university for the Social Sciences and Management. British schools again are the runner-ups with the London School of Economics (LSE) in second and Oxford third. For the Arts & Humanities, Oxford, the preeminent school for the classics is tops, followed by the University of Cambridge and Harvard in third.

The 46 subject rankings include “1127 universities from 74 countries” and are supposed to be “the most comprehensive global overview of higher education performance at discipline level.” This year QS added four additional subject rankings, “Anatomy & Physiology, Hospitality, Sports-related Subjects, and Theology, Divinity and Religious Studies.” There were only six subjects seeing new leaders this year notably as University World News indicates, “Mathematics, where MIT has taken over from the University of Cambridge, and history, where Harvard is the new leader.” Additionally, “development studies, the University of Sussex is now top, and archaeology, which is another of Oxford’s successes.”

The only school from continental Europe to top a subject list is ETH Zurich — Swiss Federal Institute of Technology for the Earth and marine sciences, who currently the only European school in the top ten at ten in the 2018 World University Rankings. In Australasia, the University of Sydney tops the Sports-related subjects. Canada does not have a university leading any of the subjects, but McGill University, the number 32 in the World University Ranking is third in Anatomy. However, the University of Toronto, QS’ top Canadian university at number 31 for the world ranking did the best in Canada ranking in “the top ten for six subjects.” Eastern European schools are also faring better in the rankings particularly those from Russia.

The rise of Asian schools in world rankings continues with their positions in the subject rankings. Only one Asian school, however, the University of Hong Kong tops a subject list with Dentistry. Singapore has the most top 20 placements of all Asian countries. With the rise of Asian schools, there is a decline of American and British schools in the rankings, although American schools still dominate the top spots.

Ben Sowter, head of research at the QS Intelligence Unit, who also compiled the ranking, commented on the shift. Sowter noted, “We observe nations in both Eastern Europe and Asia — most notably Russia and China — increasing their overall share. However, the upper echelons of the tables remain dominated by the US and UK, and this seems likely to continue for the foreseeable future.” Sowter, however, pointed out, “It seems certain that Asia’s leading institutions will continue to strongly displace the second tier of North American and European institutions.”

As with their World University Rankings QS relied on citations and surveys to compile their subject rankings, which is based on three major indicators “academic reputation, employer reputation and research impact.” For the ranking QS used their data from Scopus, “the world’s largest database of research abstracts and citations.” To determine the leading universities in certain subjects 43 million academic research papers with 144 million citations were analyzed. Additionally, to determine the reputation component QS used 305,000 “survey responses” from academics and 194,000 from employers.

QS World Rankings by Subject 2017

Accounting & Finance — Harvard
Agriculture & Forestry — Wageningen University
Anatomy & Physiology — Oxford
Anthropology — Harvard
Archaeology — Oxford
Architecture — MIT
Art & Design- Royal College of Art
Biological Sciences — Harvard
Business & Management Studies — Harvard
Chemistry — MIT
Communication & Media Studies — University of Southern California
Computer Science & Information Systems — MIT
Dentistry — University of Hong Kong
Development Studies — University of Sussex
Earth & Marine Sciences- ETH Zurich
Economics & Econometrics — MIT
Education — UCL Institute of Education
Engineering — Chemical — MIT
Engineering — Civil & Structural — MIT
Engineering — Electrical — MIT
Engineering — Mechanical — MIT
Engineering — Mining & Mineral — Colorado School of Mines
English Language & Literature — Oxford
Environmental Sciences — University of California, Berkeley
Geography — Oxford
History — Harvard
Hospitality — University of Nevada
Law — Harvard
Linguistics — MIT
Materials Science — MIT
Mathematics — MIT
Medicine — Harvard
Modern Languages — Harvard
Nursing — University of Pennsylvania
Performing Arts — Juilliard School
Pharmacy & Pharmacology — Harvard
Philosophy — University of Pittsburgh
Physics & Astronomy — MIT
Politics & International Studies — Harvard
Psychology — Harvard
Social Policy & Administration — Harvard
Sociology — Harvard
Sports-related Subjects — Loughborough University; University of Sydney
Statistics & Operational Research — Harvard
Theology — Harvard
Veterinary Science — University of California, Davis

Bonnie K. Goodman BA, MLIS (McGill University), is a journalist, librarian, historian & editor. She is a former Features Editor at the History News Network & reporter at Examiner.com where she covered politics, universities, religion and news. She has a dozen years experience in education & political journalism.

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Universities January 7, 2014: Historian Jonathan Sarna elected president of the Association for Jewish Studies

EXAMINER ARTICLES

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EDUCATION

Historian Jonathan Sarna elected president of the Association for Jewish Studies

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Examiner.com, January 7, 2014, 11:43 PM MST

Brandeis University Professor Jonathan Sarna was elected President of the Association of Jewish Studies at their annual meeting, Dec. 2013
Brandeis University Professor Jonathan Sarna was elected President of the Association of Jewish Studies at their annual meeting, Dec. 2013
Mike Lovett