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Report: How much a Master’s degree boosts your salary by field of study

Dive In
  • Writer's pictureThe CareerBeacon Team

Graduating with a Master’s degree can boost your pay by an average of 40% – 47% in Canada. Those are the findings of a new study released this morning by Statistics Canada.

To determine those numbers, Stats Can followed the careers of over one million students who achieved graduate degrees over a half-decade period. Their earnings in the years following graduation were closely related to their field of study, the degree they obtained, and the age at which they graduated.

Two years after finishing school, graduate degree graduates were making, on average, 40% to 47% more than undergraduate degree holders — a difference in median employment income ranging from $18,100 to $21,200.

The income boost for higher education tapers off after the Master’s degree level. Those students who earned their Doctoral degree during the study period saw a further salary boost of just an additional 4%.

Older graduates, students who were 35 to 64 years old at the time of graduation, represented about 20% of the cohort each year. This group earned statistically more than the younger grads by an average of 43%. This is attributed to the fact they likely had more prior work experience, and they tended to be more concentrated in higher-paying fields of study than the younger Master’s degree graduates.

For example, the three highest-paying fields for older Master’s degree graduates of 2015 were: business, management and public administration ($91,900), health and related fields ($87,700) and education ($87,500). These fields accounted for 71% of all of the master’s degree graduates who were aged 35 to 64.

By contrast the average income for graduates who earned their Master’s degree in visual and performing arts, and communications technology was just $27,050.

Median earnings of Master’s degree graduates by field of study (Average for all age groups)

  1. Education – $73,600

  2. Visual and performing arts, and communications technologies – $27,050

  3. Humanities – $43,700

  4. Social and behavioural sciences and law – $59,250

  5. Business, management and public administration – $79,000

  6. Physical and life sciences and technologies – $48,600

  7. Mathematics, computer and information sciences – $64,950

  8. Architecture, engineering, and related technologies – $63,650

  9. Agriculture, natural resources and conservation – $50,350

  10. Health and related fields – $75,250

  11. Personal, protective and transporation services – $79,350

  12. Other instructional programs – $71,350

To see the complete breakdown of degree salaries by age group, view the complete report from Statistics Canada.

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