10 of the Best Degrees to Graduate with in 2019

10 of the Best Degrees to Graduate with in 2019

Chloe Lane

Updated April 29, 2020 Updated April 29

If you’re struggling to decide which degree you should study at university, perhaps it might help to learn more about which degree subjects will be the most beneficial to you after you graduate.

This is based on the PayScale College Salary report in 2019, which takes into account several factors. These include: early career pay (median salary for alumni with degrees in the subject up to five years after graduating), mid-career pay (median salary for graduates with 10+ years’ work experience) and the percentage of high meaning (the percentage of alumni who say their work makes the world a better place.

Read on as we explore 10 of the best degree subjects to graduate with in 2019…


Degree subject

Average early career pay

Average mid-career pay

% high meaning


Petroleum Engineering





Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS)





Applied Economics and Management





Operations Research





Political Economy





Actuarial Mathematics





Electrical Power Engineering





Business Analysis










Aeronautics and Astronautics




10. Aeronautics and Astronautics

Aeronautics and Astronautics courses explore the science involved with the study, design and manufacturing of aircraft, race cars, satellites and rockets.  In the degree, you’ll look at how they operate within both our atmosphere and in space.

Typical career options for Aeronautics and Astronautics graduates include aeronautical/astronautical engineer, researcher, designer or technician. However, these are only several of the many careers available to Aeronautics and Astronautics graduates, with many graduates going on to further study.

Starting salaries for Aeronautics and Astronautics graduates are around US$73,100, progressing to an average of US$131,600 later in your career. Of those working in the field, 59% of graduates believe their job has a high meaning.

9. Pharmacy

Pharmacy is the science of preparing, dispensing and reviewing drugs and providing additional clinical services. Pharmacy students will study pharmaceutical chemistry and medical science in great depth, giving them excellent career prospects after graduation.

Typical jobs for pharmacy degree holders include community pharmacist, hospital pharmacist, pharmacologist, or research scientist.

Salaries start at around $79,600 for recent pharmacy graduates, with this rising to a significantly higher $132,500 after ten years. Interestingly, an impressive 77 percent of pharmacy graduates report feeling like their job has a high level of meaning.

8. Business Analysis

Business degrees are well known for being in high demand across a whole range of industries. Business analysis graduates often have exceptional numerical and data analysis skills, making them perfect for careers in accounting, finance or consulting and a range of other business-related careers.

It is perhaps unsurprising that business analysis graduates often go into well paid careers; starting off at around US$57,200; later increasing to $133,200.

7. Electrical Power Engineering

Engineering graduates of all types have strong career prospects, and electrical power engineering graduates are no exception. With a recent focus on climate change, there is an even more urgent desire to move towards renewable energy sources, and therefore a higher demand for electrical power engineering graduates. Electrical power engineering graduates with leave university with a strong technical expertise, strong numeracy and IT skills and problem-solving skills.

Graduates also go into careers such as: electric power network analysts, electric vehicle designers, and development and market analysts. Graduates’ starting salaries are high – according to the most recent PayScale salary report, graduates earn a $72,400 starting salary, progressing to $134,700 after 10 years. An impressive 63 percent of electrical power engineering graduates report feeling like their job has high meaning. 

6. Actuarial Mathematics

Actuarial mathematics degrees use mathematical, statistical, financial and economic theory to solve business problems, including risk, uncertainty and financial impact of unforeseen events, giving them strong career prospects. Typical careers for graduates include risk analysts, chartered accountant, audit analysts and statistician.

Graduates enjoy high salaries of $57,600 for graduates with under five years of work experience and $136,200 for graduates who have worked for over five years. However, PayScale also reveals that under 50 percent of graduates say their work has high meaning to the world.

5. Political Economy

Political economy is the study of trade and production and their relations with customs, law and government, and problems that arise from or are affected by the interaction with international politics. Political economy graduates have a range of career opportunities available to them such as economists, financial analysts, communications officer and political consultants.

Political economist majors, on average earn US$57,600 in the first five years after graduating, rising to US$136,200 after ten years.

4. Operations Research

Operations researchers provide analytics and guidance to management teams. Degrees in this subject provide graduates with strong mathematical, computational and communication skills to help them in a wide range of industries. Operations researchers generally work in consulting companies, financial companies, airlines, and governmental agencies, to name a few.

Typical starting salaries are relatively high; averaging at $77,900. They rise to £137,100 after ten or more years, and there is a lot of career progression available.

3. Applied Economics and Management


Applied economics and management graduates reportedly earn $58,900 at the start of their careers, rising to $140,000 after ten years, meaning that they are amongst the top graduate earners. 

Most universities offer the chance for students to specialize later on in their degree to fit their interests and career aspirations. Applied economics and management employees are generally satisfied with their jobs with 69 percent reporting that they believed their work makes the world a better place.

2. Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS)

The second highest earners are electrical engineering students, earning an impressive US$88,000 within the first five years of graduating and $142,200 ten years after graduation. Both electrical engineering graduates and computer science graduates report very low levels of unemployment, so these two subjects studied together leads to some very strong employment prospects!

Graduates may want to be electrical engineers, IT consultants or software designers – the possibilities are endless! Despite this, graduates derive high meaning from their job, so make sure this is the path for you before selecting it. 

1. Petroleum Engineering

In first place, and the top degree subject to graduate with this year is petroleum engineering. Petroleum engineers explore and extract oil and gas in a safe and environmentally sustainable way – as energy will always be needed, petroleum engineering graduates are continually in high demand!

Petroleum engineering graduates earn an impressive $94,500 on average in the first five years of their careers (significantly higher than any other degree). After ten years this annual salary rises to US$176,900. On top of this hefty salary, as many as 77 percent petroleum engineering graduates also report feeling like their job has a high level of meaning. Typical jobs in petroleum engineering include petroleum geologists, drilling engineers, reservoir engineers and production engineers.

This article was originally published in November 2019 . It was last updated in April 2020

Written by

A Content Writer for TopUniversities.com, Chloe has a bachelor’s degree in Economics from the University of Reading and grew up in Leicestershire, UK. 

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