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




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 where she covered politics, universities, religion and news. She has a dozen years experience in education & political journalism.


Education July 9, 2017: MIT remains the world’s best UK slides in 2018 QS World University Rankings




By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

For the sixth consecutive time, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is sitting on the top of the QS World University Rankings’ Top Universities,

The 2018 university ranking season is getting an early start as Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) pushed up the release of their annual world university rankings. For the sixth year, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is sitting on the top of the QS World University Rankings’ annual Top Universities. QS World University Rankings released their 2018 edition on Wednesday, June 7, 2017, and for the first time in the ranking’s history the top four are all American schools, with MIT, Stanford, Harvard University and the California Institute of Technology sweeping the top spots.

Meanwhile, Brexit is affecting British universities with 51 institutions losing ground in the rankings by at least one spot. There are 76 British universities in this year’s ranking. As QS indicates, “This includes 11 of the 16 ranked Russell Group universities.” The top ranking British university comes in only in fifth place with Cambridge University, which fell by one spot from last year. Cambridge is followed by Oxford, which holds on to the sixth place, UCL, the University College of London also holds on to the seventh place. The last British school to rank in the top ten is the Imperial College of London, which falls one to land in ninth place.

The top 10 shows an almost even balance between American and British universities with one continental European institution Switzerland’s ETH Zurich — Swiss Federal Institute of Technology at tenth place falling two spots, but still breaking up what had been for years an exclusive club dominated by the Americans and British. “Academic reputation” is the most important determining factor for the lists, and it is reflected by the universities represented in the ranking.

This year there are five American (MIT (1), Stanford (2), Harvard (3), Caltech (4), the University of Chicago (9)). And four British universities (Cambridge (5), Oxford (6), University College of London (7), Imperial College of London (9)) in the top 10. The top Ivy League school on the list is Harvard at №3 remaining in the same place for two years in a row. For the second year, a British school does not occupy one of the top three spots and now four spots. Britain’s leading school, the University of Cambridge, moves down, one to fifth place.

Two of the four British universities in the top 10 moved down a spot from last year, showing a troubling trend for British universities throughout the ranking. Meanwhile, there are 11 American universities in the top 20, while there are five British universities in the top 20. In this year’s edition, there are four universities outside of the US and the UK in the top 20, two from Switzerland, and two from Singapore.

The QS World University Rankings consistently include more non-US and on-UK universities in the top 20 than any of the other international rankings. There are 81 countries represented in the ranking of 959 schools 25 more than last year’s edition. The United States has the most universities in the ranking top 200 with a quarter, 48 schools, Great Britain follows in second place with 30 of the top 200 universities.

Despite Britain’s strong showing, British schools are ranking lower than last year, mostly of concerns regarding Brexit, including attracting students and funding. According to Forbes, “38 of its 48 representatives in the top 400 have lost ground.” Last year there were three schools from London in the top 20, now there are only two. Additionally, British universities have been suffering from funding cuts.

The top university outside the UK is Switzerland’s ETH Zürich, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology moves down two from number 8 to 10. ETH Zurich is considered “the top university in continental Europe” in many worlds and global rankings. The top Asian University is now NanyangTechnological University (NTU) in Singapore at number 11 moving up two from last year and bumping The National University of Singapore (NUS) from the top Asian university. NUS moved down, three to number 15. Australia’s Australian National University is the top ranking university from the Australasia region moving up two to reach the top 20 at number 20.

Universities in emerging economies countries continue to rise in the rankings. China has six universities in the top 100, up from four. India has three schools featured in the top 200. The Universidad de Buenos Aires is Latin America’s top school coming at number 75. Russia also tops the top 100 for the first time with Lomonosov Moscow State University at number 95.

Canada features three universities in the top 50; the same three universities are Canada’s top institutions in all international rankings. McGill University loses its top spot in Canada falling two to number 32. The University of Toronto is now Canada top university in the QS ranking after it moved up five from number 36 to 31. Although McGill ranks first in Canadian rankings in international ones the University of Toronto usual takes that honor. Canada’s third university in the top 100, the University of British Columbia tumbled in the ranking down seven from number 45 to 52.

Ben Sowter, head of research at the QS Intelligence Unit, who also compiled the ranking, explained why MIT dominates the ranking. Sowter remarked in the official press release, “MIT is the nucleus of an unrivaled innovation ecosystem. Companies created by its alumni enjoyed combined revenues of $2 trillion, making them the equivalent of the world’s 11th largest economy. However, their continued dominance at the top should not obscure a changing landscape elsewhere, with other US and UK institutions making way for the best of Russia, China, and India — among others.”

QS World University Rankings was originally a collaboration between the education and career company Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) with the Times Higher Education (THE) to create a world university ranking in 2003. For five years the listing was published on THE, with QS supplying the data. In 2010, Times Higher Education decided to break off the partnership and pair up with Thomson Reuters to produce their ranking list. The decision was mostly because of the heavy reliance of using peer reviews to determine the rankings. The QS World University Rankings first appeared in its present format in 2010.

The ranking methodology looks at six indicators in giving marks to each university. The six indicators include, “academic reputation, student-to-faculty ratio, citations per faculty, employer reputation, international faculty ratio, and international student ratio.” Each university is accessed on four factors: “research, teaching, employability, and internationalization.”
The QS World University Ranking changed their methodology last year to focus more heavily on research. There is now more reliance on “citations per faculty, making that indicator weight 20 percent of the final score.” QS is using their data from Scopus, “the world’s largest database of research abstracts and citations.” The ranking’s reliance on citation numbers pushes the balance for universities with an active life and natural science programs because academics in those fields have “higher citation rates than in the arts, humanities or social sciences.

The list is highly regarded, but controversial, because they rely on academic peer reviews to rank the universities, others factors include faculty-student ratio, citations by faculty, recruiter review, and internationalism. A recent article from “The Online Citizen” called the “QS ranking downright shady and unethical.” The article questioned the results, the methodology and those chosen to respond to the surveys used to compile the data. The author claims the ranking has an anti-American bias in favor of European and Asian universities. The author found particular issue with Asian universities outranking Ivy League universities” Princeton, Cornell, Yale, and Columbia” and prestigious public and private schools like Johns Hopkins and UC Berkeley. The author questioned the disproportionate percentage of surveys coming from small countries while only 10 percent of respondents came from the US.

The World University Rankings list looks at over 950 schools. The ranking includes some sub-lists looking at more specific issues or geographic areas including; By FacultyAsiaLatin AmericaBRICS countries; Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, Best Student CitiesBy Subject, and also the top 50 universities under 50 years old.

QS World University Rankings Top Universities 2017/18 top 10:

1 Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), United States (1)
2 Stanford University, United States (2)
3 Harvard University, United States (3)
4 California Institute of Technology (Caltech), United States (5)
5 University of Cambridge, United Kingdom (4)
6 University of Oxford, United Kingdom (5)
7 UCL (University College London), United Kingdom (7)
8 Imperial College London, United Kingdom (9)
9 University of Chicago, United States (10)
10 ETH Zurich — Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Switzerland (8)

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 where she covered politics, universities, religion and news. She has a dozen years experience in education & political journalism.