Does a Degree Help You Earn More Money?
The results for graduate earnings compared to non-graduate may have you questioning whether a degree in your chosen field is worth it. The table below shows the changes in these professional premiums† between 2010 and 2015, by specific subject groups.
The professional premium is the difference between the mean salary for those entering employment in a professional* occupation, and the mean salary for those starting non-professional employment**.
It is evident from this data that a degree in a handful of subject areas is becoming a less economical way to begin your career – but basing a decision about going to university solely on salary will not give the best informed decision.
- Notes on the methodology
- How have graduate starting salaries changed?
- Subjects with the highest and lowest professional premiums
It's also interesting to note that graduates from the academic year 2014–15 were the first to be hit by the rise to £9,000 in university tuition fees.
The columns £ Change and % Change show the increase or decrease in professional premium between 2010 and 2015. All figures are adjusted for inflation, thus they reflect the true change of salary over time.
You will find the rest of our graduate employment and salary data in the box to the right, or at the bottom of the page for mobile users.
Click the links below to see the best-performing universities in each subject group.
|£ Change 2010–15^||% Change 2010–15^|
|Accounting & Finance||£5,888||£5,374||-£514||-9%|
|Aeronautical & Manufacturing Engineering||£8,420||£9,349||£929||11%|
|Agriculture & Forestry||£3,687||£3,625||-£62||-2%|
|Anatomy & Physiology||£5,881||£6,438||£557||9%|
|Art & Design||£4,253||£3,913||-£340||-8%|
|Business & Management Studies||£6,506||£6,323||-£183||-3%|
|Classics & Ancient History||£5,404||£6,946||£1,542||29%|
|Communication & Media Studies||£3,521||£3,628||£107||3%|
|Drama, Dance & Cinematics||£4,117||£4,230||£113||3%|
|East & South Asian Studies||£5,601||£6,611||£1,011||18%|
|Electrical & Electronic Engineering||£9,141||£8,893||-£248||-3%|
|Geography & Environmental Science||£6,752||£3,968||-£2,784||-41%|
|History of Art, Architecture & Design||£4,518||£4,174||-£344||-8%|
|Hospitality, Leisure, Recreation & Tourism||£2,588||£3,164||£577||22%|
|Librarianship & Information Management||£4,415||£7,756||£3,341||76%|
|Middle Eastern & African Studies||£5,365||£5,034||-£331||-6%|
|Pharmacology & Pharmacy||£5,766||£2,641||-£3,125||-54%|
|Physics & Astronomy||£10,015||£9,200||-£815||-8%|
|Theology & Religious Studies||£6,864||£6,644||-£220||-3%|
|Town & Country Planning and Landscape Design||£4,255||£5,284||£1,029||24%|
Source: HESA 2014–15
Published October 2016
- This data is based on the latest Destination of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) survey 2014–15. The annual survey is conducted approximately six months after students leave. Approximately two-thirds of survey respondents in full-time paid employment provide information about their salary.
- Insufficient data for the following subjects: Aural & Oral Sciences, Complementary Medicine, Marketing, Medical Technology, Medicine, Ophthalmics, Physiotherapy, and Veterinary Medicine.
*Professional employment refers to a job or occupation which normally requires a degree.
**Non-professional employment refers to a job or occupation which doesn't normally require a degree.
†Professional premium refers to the average difference in salary between those starting professional employment, and those starting non-professional employment.
^Indicates data adjusted for inflation at 1.15% (using the Bank of England inflation calculator, based on composite price index published by the Office for National Statistics).