Top uni subjects for earnin

In our last blog post we looked at which universities generate the highest earners. Now we’ll take a look at which degree subjects are likely to lead to the highest earnings within 5 years of graduation. With tuition fees and student debt now higher than ever, students need to make sure that they are following a career path which not only suits their abilities and interests but also one which is likely to recoup a decent return on their considerable investment of time and money.

As before, the underlying data comes from’s evaluation of over 35,000 submissions made by individuals who contributed salary information to their continuous benchmarking service. (Working graduates can contribute data here).

So let’s take a look …

Average salaries, by university subject, within 5 years of graduation:

  • Earning £45,000 p.a. on average are Economics graduates, right at the top in 1st place. It will be no surprise that Economics graduates are most likely to be employed by the very lucrative Financial Services industry, although Iindustry and Telecoms sectors are also significant employers;
  • With an average salary of £42,000 p.a. we have Law graduates in 2nd place. Employers of such graduates are most likely to be Law firms, as you’d expect, followed by the Services, Tourism and Entertainment sectors or within Telecoms;
  • Earning £39,000 p.a., we have Mathematicians & Statisticians in 3rd place. As with Economics graduates, Mathematicians and Statisticians are most likely to be employed within the Financial Services industry, followed in order of likelihood by Industry generally and the Telecoms sector;
  • Earning £38,000 p.a. are graduates of Chemistry & Natural Sciences in 4th place. The Public Sector are the most prevalent employer of such graduates, followed by the Industry and Engineering sectors;
  • Earning £37,000 p.a. are graduates of several degree subjects: Accounting, Business & Finance as well as graduates of Engineering and Computer Sciences;
  • Earning £36,000 are graduates of Physics, Life Sciences & Healthcare as well as Management & Strategy;
  • Humanities graduates (e.g. History, Geography, Politics) come in at £34,000, with their most likely employers being Charity & Non-profits followed by the Public Sector then the Media & Advertising sectors;
  • Earning £32,000 are both Modern Languages and Philosophy graduates;
  • English literature graduates come in next with an average salary of £31,000;
  • at £27,000 is Media, Marketing & Communication whose graduates are most likely to be employed by the Media & Advertising sector, followed by the Retail sector and also, to a lesser extent, by Charities and Non-profits;
  • Finally at £25,000 we have Fine Arts & Design graduates.

So we can see that the subjects studied at university have a quite significant impact on earnings potential. The earnings at the top of our table (£45k) are 1.8 times higher than those at the bottom (£25k) — that’s not too far off double so we can see the significant difference the choice of degree subject makes upon our later earnings. However, those Bachelor of Arts graduates right at the bottom of the list needn’t be discouraged because their earnings tend to overtake those of Bachelor of Science graduates, by a factor of 7%, within 15 years of graduating. The difference between the two is even more pronounced, at 11%, when you compare salaries from the two camps based on individuals with Masters Degrees.

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