The Top 10 Highest Paying Undergraduate Degrees

The highest paying undergraduate degrees offer graduates the ability and knowledge to establish long term, often lucrative careers in a number of dynamic industries. Undergraduate degrees offer graduates  increased employment options and opportunities for advancement in these areas:

  • science
  • information technology
  • engineering
  • business
  • mathematics

Ranking the Top 10 Highest Paying Undergraduate Degrees

1. Petroleum Engineering – B.S. in Petroleum Engineering

Students with petroleum engineering degrees gain the skills required to advance as professional “hydrocarbon harvesters.” Petroleum engineering graduates gain a versatile understanding of:

  • mathematics
  • earth science
  • petroleum geology
  • geophysics
  • engineering

They can also get specialized training regarding:

  • drilling
  • artificial lift systems
  • reservoir simulation

Petroleum engineering programs are only offered at a few colleges in the U.S. and Europe. Competition for acceptance is intense.  Employment for qualified professionals is among one of the fastest growing occupations. The potential for layoffs is large despite job growth. This is due to the depletion of crude and natural gas. Most graduates with a petroleum engineering degree have earnings starting at $119,140 annually.

Further Reading:

30 Great Small Colleges for STEM Degrees

2. Computer and Information Systems Managers – B.S. in Computer and Information Systems

The field of information technology is one of the largest, fast growing industries. This is due to current computer and telecommunication trends. Computer and Information System managers are highly skilled professionals who manage all aspects of

  • web technologies
  • bioinformatics
  • cloud computing

These professionals are responsible for the installation, maintenance, upkeep, and security of:

  • computer networks
  • programs
  • the overall development of  Internet and intranet sites.

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Computer and Information Systems managers often supervise a staff of:

  • software engineers
  • systems analysts
  • programmers
  • computer support specialists

They use skills learned through their studies in:

  • computer science
  • computer programming
  • computer engineering
  • mathematics
  • information science
  • statistics
  • accounting
  • management
  • information systems

Computer and Information Systems Managers generally earn $112,210 annually after completing their bachelor degree. However, some employers prefer candidates with master’s degrees.

3. Aircraft Pilot and Flight Engineer – B.S. in Aeronautical or Aerospace Engineering

An educational foundation based in aircraft and flight engineering is among the highest paying undergraduate degrees. Training to become an aircraft pilot and flight engineer is intensive. It requires studies based in:

  • physics
  • aeronautical engineering
  • English
  • mathematics
  • the ability to meet flight training requirements

Skilled graduates generally advance to careers:

  • flying planes
  • helicopters
  • commercial jets

They also fly private aircraft:

  • transporting passengers and cargo
  • dusting crops
  • directing fire fighting efforts
  • tracking criminals
  • testing aircraft
  • rescuing injured individuals

Graduates must also be qualified to assist pilots and copilots by:

  • monitoring instruments
  • making in flight repairs
  • supporting air traffic control
  • supporting company, or cabin communications

Earnings for individuals who complete aircraft pilots and flight engineers have the potential to earn as much as $111,680 annually.

4. Computer Hardware Engineer – B.S. in Computer Science and Networking

Computer hardware engineers are skilled professionals who manage all aspects of computer systems and networks. Computer hardware engineers handle the development of:

  • computer chips
  • computer systems
  • routers
  • keyboards
  • circuit boards,
  • other hardware

They also test, maintain, and upgrade these components and systems.

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An undergraduate degree in computer hardware engineering is among the highest paying degree programs. It includes studies in:

  • computer engineering
  • information systems
  • mathematics
  • other technological advances

Potential earnings for most graduates in the field can be $97,570 annually.

5. Nuclear Engineer – B.S. in Nuclear Engineering

Nuclear engineering is among one of the highest paying undergraduate degree programs with a great earnings potential. Nuclear engineers are responsible for the research and maintenance of:

  • nuclear reactors
  • weapons
  • power plants

They must possess the skills to release, control, safely utilize, and dispose nuclear energy and waste. Studies in this field include courses in:

  • nuclear fusion
  • radiation safety
  • medical or ionizing applications
  • heat and thermodynamic transport
  • nuclear proliferation
  • nuclear fuel
  • the effects of radioactivity on the environment and organisms

Earnings for graduates with nuclear engineering degrees are often $97,080 yearly.

6. Actuary – B.S. in Actuarial Science

A bachelor’s degree in actuarial science provides students one of the highest paying undergraduate degrees. Graduates find employment as professionals assessing risks in the insurance industry. Graduates are skilled to assess the likelihood of:

  • disability
  • illness
  • death loss of property
  • other events

Actuaries also develop policies to minimize the expenses associated with the risks.

Courses include studies in:

  • actuarial science
  • mathematics
  • economics
  • statistics

Most students are required to complete internships and pass a series of examinations which require a 4 to 8 year time investment before qualifying for employment. Academic and employment competition is keen. Professionals in the field of actuarial science though professionals generally have earnings beginning at $95,980 annually.

7. Chemical Engineer – B.S. in Chemical Engineering

A chemical engineering degree offers undergraduates the ability to advance careers in many high paying industries like:

  • biotechnology
  • health care
  • global business

Chemical engineers are highly skilled professionals. Courses include:

  •  mathematics
  • chemistry
  • natural science
  • physics
  • mechanical engineering
  • electrical engineer

Chemical engineers are responsible for designing the equipment for large scale chemical manufacturing and their by-products. Professionals in the field of chemical engineering also resolve problems related to how manufactured chemicals impact:

  • the environment
  • consumers
  • other workers

Chemical engineers earn salaries of $84,680 annually upon gaining necessary training.

8. Electronics Engineer – B.S. in Electronics Engineering

Electronics engineering is also one of the highest paying undergraduate degree programs. It offers individuals the ability to work in a number of quickly evolving technology industries. Electronics engineering programs offer students a broad understanding of:

  • electrical and electronics engineering
  • mathematics
  • the principles and theories of electronics
  • physical and life and sciences
  • engineering technology

Electronics engineers are highly skilled workers. They designand supervise the manufacturing of:

  • electronic equipment
  • signal processes
  • control systems

Skilled professionals in this field have the ability to earn $86,370 annually

9. Materials Engineer – B.S. in Materials Engineering

An undergraduate degree in materials engineering is one of the highest paying undergraduate programs.  Graduates have the knowledge and training necessary to advance as professionals. Materials engineers complete studies based in:

  • mathematics
  • science
  • chemistry
  • computer science
  • physics

In their profession they:

  • develop new uses for materials
  • develop machinery and the processes necessary to manufacture them
  • assure design and performance specifications

Many materials engineers specialize using specific materials like:

  • metal
  • alloys
  • ceramics
  • graphite
  • plastics
  • polymers
  • glass,
  • organic materials

They also assist in the development of new materials. Graduates who meet certification requirements n the field of materials engineering often earn $81,820 annually.

10. Registered Nurse – BSN

A four year bachelor degree in nursing offers individuals the skills and training necessary to work  as registered nurses. Registered nurses offer:

  • patient care
  • education to patients
  • clinical support to physicians
  • professional expertise in a variety of medical care facilities

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Nursing programs feature courses based in:

  • anatomy
  • physiology
  • chemistry
  • microbiology
  • psychology
  • nutrition
  • supervised clinical experiences

They can also specialize in studies in a number of health care fields. They must complete the NYCLEX exam required for licensure.  Registered nurses earn up to $76,570 yearly.

Brenda Rufener
Author

Julie McCaulley
Expert

Carrie Sealey-Morris
Editor-in-Chief