Monday, July 27, 2009

Math Skills Bring in the Big Bucks has released it's annual list of the top paying college majors. The top 15 are listed in the table on the right. As you'll notice, they all have something in common: math skills.

It turns out that so-called "math-based majors" are in short supply - they make up only about 4% of college graduates. So good old economics tells us that if supply is low, demand is high, which is good news if you can do math.

By comparison, if you take a two of the most common non-"math based" graduate degrees, they would wind up at #2 and #19 on the list. A law degree pays an average starting salary of $73,396 and a masters of business administration averages only $50,301 to start. That means that, roughly speaking, it pays as well to do 4 years of math-heavy schooling as it does to do 6 to 7 years of math-light schooling.

Of course the sad part for those of us working on our PhD's is that the average starting salary for 9+ years of post-secondary education is $70,370.


  1. Yes, the market has chosen math ability as the most superior talent one can posses and who am I to argue?

    What CNN doesn't tell you is if you were to plot "major vs. awesomeness" not only would the math-intensive majors be on top but would be out at 5-7 sigma, depending how much physics is involved. (Physics is at ~+12 sigma.)

  2. Unfortunately has yet to release the top starting awesomeness by major, but I'm sure that Joe's numbers are qualitatively correct.


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