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Career prospects

What do postgraduate students do and earn?

Our tables give a snapshot of jobs and earnings in the UK once you’ve graduated from a postgraduate course.

Three students discussing notes around a table

CONTENTS

  1. What do postgraduate students do?

  2. What do postgraduate students earn?

What do postgraduate students do?

Many students continue after their undergraduate degree and study at postgraduate level to enhance their career prospects.

The tables below show what students of each subject area do after full- and part-time postgraduate study, ranked by four destinations:

  • Employed 
  • Self-employed
  • Engaged in further study
  • Unemployed

Please note, this is a smaller version of the full table. The percentages may not add up to 100% due to the exclusion of four measures: 

  • Running their own business
  • Developing a professional portfolio 
  • Voluntary work
  • Other (which includes travelling, caring, retired and other reasons you may not study or work)

Postgraduate students' destinations after full-time postgraduate study

Subject Employed Self-employed Further study Unemployed
Agriculture and related subjects 76% 4% 9% 4%
Architecture, Building & Planning 79% 3% 3% 5%
Biological Sciences 74% 3% 15% 3%
Business & Administrative Studies 76% 4% 5% 6%
Computer Science 77% 3% 8% 4%
Creative Arts & Design 45% 21% 7% 5%
Education 90% 1% 2% 3%
Engineering & Technology 76% 3% 10% 5%
Historical & Philosophical Studies 64% 4% 18% 4%
Languages 62% 6% 19% 4%
Law 75% 4% 9% 4%
Mass Communications & Documentation 73% 9% 4% 4%
Mathematical Sciences 75% 1% 16% 3%
Medicine & Dentistry 77% 3% 15% 2%
Physical Sciences 77% 2% 14% 4%
Social Studies 79% 2% 8% 4%
Subjects allied to Medicine 81% 2% 10% 3%
Veterinary Science 81% 0% 13% 2%

Postgraduate students' destinations after part-time postgraduate study

Subject Employed Self-employed Further study Unemployed
Agriculture and related subjects 76% 5% 5% 1%
Architecture, Building & Planning 85% 3% 2% 1%
Biological Sciences 72% 7% 7% 2%
Business & Administrative Studies 82% 4% 2% 2%
Computer Science 78% 4% 6% 2%
Creative Arts & Design 45% 17% 6% 2%
Education 87% 2% 4% 1%
Engineering & Technology 85% 4% 2% 2%
Historical & Philosophical Studies 45% 7% 13% 2%
Languages 50% 10% 13% 3%
Law 79% 5% 5% 2%
Mass Communications & Documentation 75% 6% 5% 3%
Mathematical Sciences 72% 3% 8% 5%
Medicine & Dentistry 79% 9% 4% 1%
Physical Sciences 75% 3% 9% 4%
Social Studies 81% 4% 4% 2%
Subjects allied to Medicine 84% 5% 3% 1%
Veterinary Science 69% 14% 8% 0%

What do postgraduate students earn?

The higher earning potential of doing a postgraduate degree draws many students into continuing their studies.

The table below shows the average salaries of postgraduate students from different subject areas entering employment. The three skill levels – high, medium and low – reflect the UK's Standard Occupational Classification's major groups 1–3, 4–6 and 7–9 respectively.

Subject High-skilled Medium-skilled Low-skilled
Agriculture and related subjects £26,000 £19,000 £20,000
Architecture, Building & Planning £30,000 £27,000 £18,000
Biological Sciences £28,000 £18,000 £17,500
Business & Administrative Studies £34,000 £21,500 £20,000
Computer Science £32,000 £21,000 £19,000
Creative Arts & Design £25,000 £19,000 £16,000
Engineering & Technology £32,000 £26,000 £19,000
Historical & Philosophical Studies £26,000 £20,000 £18,000
Languages £26,000 £20,000 £18,000
Law £26,000 £20,000 £19,000
Mass Communications & Documentation £25,000 £20,000 £17,000
Mathematical Sciences £33,000 £20,000 N/A
Medicine & Dentistry £36,000 £21,000 £18,000
Physical Sciences £30,000 £22,000 £17,000
Social Studies £30,000 £21,000 £18,000
Subjects allied to Medicine £33,000 £20,000 £17,500
Veterinary Science £36,500 N/A N/A

Date source: HESA 2017–18, published July 2020.

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