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**.

Do I Need A Degree
iStock/KatarzynaBialasiewicz
Routes into a career other than university degrees
are becoming more prominent 

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.

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.

SubjectProfessional Premium
2010^
Professional Premium
2015
£ 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%
American Studies £6,280 £4,929 -£1,351 -22%
Anatomy & Physiology £5,881 £6,438 £557 9%
Anthropology £3,319 £4,127 £808 24%
Archaeology £4,065 £4,983 £918 23%
Architecture £3,905 £3,715 -£190 -5%
Art & Design £4,253 £3,913 -£340 -8%
Biological Sciences £6,146 £4,852 -£1,294 -21%
Building £7,309 £6,163 -£1,146 -16%
Business & Management Studies £6,506 £6,323 -£183 -3%
Celtic Studies £2,873 £6,132 £3,259 113%
Chemical Engineering £12,218 £11,416 -£802 -7%
Chemistry £5,820 £7,270 £1,450 25%
Civil Engineering £9,389 £6,483 -£2,906 -31%
Classics & Ancient History £5,404 £6,946 £1,542 29%
Communication & Media Studies £3,521 £3,628 £107 3%
Computer Science £7,982 £8,888 £906 11%
Drama, Dance & Cinematics £4,117 £4,230 £113 3%
East & South Asian Studies £5,601 £6,611 £1,011 18%
Economics £10,908 £10,025 -£883 -8%
Education £8,108 £6,482 -£1,626 -20%
Electrical & Electronic Engineering £9,141 £8,893 -£248 -3%
English £4,897 £4,243 -£654 -13%
Food Science £5,827 £6,749 £922 16%
French £5,387 £5,654 £267 5%
General Engineering £10,075 £10,572 £497 5%
Geography & Environmental Science £6,752 £3,968 -£2,784 -41%
Geology £11,878 £8,979 -£2,899 -24%
German £6,692 £5,009 -£1,683 -25%
History £6,429 £4,856 -£1,573 -24%
History of Art, Architecture & Design £4,518 £4,174 -£344 -8%
Hospitality, Leisure, Recreation & Tourism £2,588 £3,164 £577 22%
Iberian Languages £3,932 £5,654 £1,722 44%
Italian £4,677 £3,891 -£786 -17%
Law £6,823 £3,482 -£3,341 -49%
Librarianship & Information Management £4,415 £7,756 £3,341 76%
Linguistics £3,751 £4,269 £518 14%
Materials Technology £5,307 £5,711 £404 8%
Mathematics £9,979 £8,732 -£1,247 -12%
Mechanical Engineering £9,321 £7,753 -£1,568 -17%
Middle Eastern & African Studies £5,365 £5,034 -£331 -6%
Music £5,118 £4,376 -£742 -14%
Nursing £6,074 £4,619 -£1,455 -24%
Pharmacology & Pharmacy £5,766 £2,641 -£3,125 -54%
Philosophy £7,572 £8,235 £663 9%
Physics & Astronomy £10,015 £9,200 -£815 -8%
Politics £7,423 £3,692 -£3,731 -50%
Psychology £4,641 £4,181 -£460 -10%
Social Policy £5,900 £4,758 -£1,142 -19%
Social Work £11,444 £9,396 -£2,048 -18%
Sociology £6,272 £4,562 -£1,710 -27%
Sports Science £4,840 £3,856 -£984 -20%
Theology & Religious Studies £6,864 £6,644 -£220 -3%
Town & Country Planning and Landscape Design £4,255 £5,284 £1,029 24%
     
All Subjects £7,866 £6,198 -£1,668 -21%

Source: HESA 2014–15
Published October 2016

Notes

*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).

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