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Choosing what to study

Top ten postgraduate subjects for starting salaries

Postgraduate courses come at an extra cost, and you’ll naturally consider starting salaries when deciding whether to take this route. Here we list the ten best subjects for postgraduate starting salaries.

Two people shaking hands over business

=8. Architecture, Building and Planning

People discussing architectural plans

Average starting salary: £30,000

Qualifying as an architect can take up to seven years of specialist training, making it one of the most expensive careers to pursue. However, the generally high levels of pay mean this often becomes a worthwhile investment. Going into building and planning can take less time but offers similarly impressive postgraduate starting salaries.

=8. Physical Sciences

Scientist programming equipment

Average starting salary: £30,000

Playing their part in driving technological and manufacturing developments, postgraduates in the physical sciences can also command a high starting salary. High-paying areas include work with condensed matter like graphene, nanotechnology; forensic chemistry and pharmacology; or within the oil, gas or nuclear industries.

=8. Social Studies

Delegates at a conference

Average starting salary: £30,000

Social Studies encompass the full suite of social sciences subjects including Economics, Politics, Social Work and Anthropology. Postgraduate subjects in this area are often open to degree holders from a range of educational backgrounds.

=6. Computer Science

Students listening to a lecture

Average starting salary: £32,000

IT pervades all areas of life – from business to consumer applications, industrial to gaming. Those with expertise in computer science, software engineering, or artificial intelligence can find employment in any industry, and they usually get paid very well. Most postgraduate computer scientists come from computing or mathematical backgrounds, but there are some courses specially designed for students with less relevant undergraduate degrees.

=6. Engineering and Technology

Two women in an engineering lab

Average starting salary: £32,000

Whichever field of engineering you specialise in, you’ll likely find well-paid, professional-level employment straight after graduation. Bear in mind postgraduate degrees in engineering require applicants to have a relevant undergraduate qualification.

=4. Mathematical Sciences

Hands typing on a laptop

Average starting salary: £33,000

Postgraduate courses in Mathematical Sciences include those in mathematics, operational research, and statistics. Maths is literally everywhere and is applied to all industries, so it’s no wonder people with high-level mathematical skills are remunerated well.

=4. Medicine-related degrees

Medical student looking into a microscope

Average starting salary: £33,000

Anatomy, Ophthalmics and Medical Technology are just some of the subjects allied to medicine. Society cares deeply about the standard of its healthcare, so it's understandable that postgraduate students of these subjects get a good starting pay.

3. Business and Administrative Studies

Hand placing notes on project board

Average starting salary: £34,000

Degrees exploring commerce lead to high starting salaries. As you'll be in a position to work for a money-making entity in a reasonably senior position, this does make sense. Postgraduate students studying business and administrative studies come from all kinds of educational backgrounds, and go on to work in all sorts of industries.

2. Medicine and Dentistry

Dentist checking a patient

Average starting salary: £36,000

It's no secret that medics and dentists start their careers on a good salary. Get a postgraduate degree in the field and this will be boosted even more. Not only will you earn a decent package, you'll also make a worthwhile contribution to society’s wellbeing.

1. Veterinary Medicine

et nursing a cat's paw

Average starting salary: £36,500

Veterinary science postgraduate students are more concerned with the science behind veterinary medicine than the actual clinical practice itself. Many postgraduate students study subjects that will prepare them for vet support roles.

Average starting salaries in high-skilled roles for postgraduate students from different subject areas entering full-time employment. Date source: HESA 2017–18, published July 2020.

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