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What Are the Most Profitable Degrees and How Have They Changed Over the Years?


Student Life



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With the increase in tuition fees over the last few years, as well as a fluctuating job market, there’s a good chance that you’re choosing your degree based on what kind of salary you’ll start on after you’ve graduated. And while it’s still possible to bring home decent earnings from studying a humanities degree, if you’re looking for an attractive salary straight out of the gate, then you might want to look elsewhere.

But while graduate starting salaries should certainly be a consideration when choosing a degree, don’t forget that there are a number of other factors that affect earning potential. The institution, your academic performance, the current economy, past job experience and even the odd bit of luck, can all play their part.

So, while money isn’t everything, knowing the kinds of graduate salaries you can expect to earn after your studies is important, especially since it can fluctuate from institution to institution – with the name value of some top universities adding a significant amount to the average starting salary.

Whatever the reasons or motivations are for your choice of degree, here’s a list of the most profitable post-graduation subjects, as well as a look at how degrees have evolved and changed over the years.

Business and management

With its in-depth analysis of business strategy, decision-making and risk-handling, a business and management degree provides a thorough grounding in how organisations work within the world they operate in. As a result, it’s a highly-valuable, profitable degree that stands graduates in good stead for economics, accounting and marketing roles.

Average graduate salary: Business graduates applying for their first role in a relevant field can expect to garner somewhere in the region of £24,000.

Salary after five years: On average, a business graduate will earn just under £30,000 a year five years after leaving university.


Covering a broad spectrum of topics and aspects, including IT and computer science, it’s not too surprising that degrees in the computing sector are highly valued – because what modern business doesn’t use computers or some form of technology nowadays? And with big names like Apple, IBM and Google always on the lookout for talent, it can be a highly-profitable degree too.

Average graduate salary: As a rule of thumb, a computer science graduate will be looking at around £25,000 as a starting salary.

Salary after five years: Similar to business graduates, a computing scholar can earn just shy of £30,000 five years after graduation.



Whether it’s criminal law or civil law, you don’t actually need an A-Level in law to study the subject at uni – just a strong set of grades and a keen sense of right and wrong. The majority of institutions offer an LLB (Bachelor of Laws) which leads to Bar qualifying exams, while others provide BA or BSc law qualifications which don’t lead to the same path. Make sure you research which is best for your career path before applying.

Average graduate salary: Upon completion of the three years of an LLB, law graduates can expect just under £25,000 as a starting salary.

Salary after five years: Whilst Oxbridge graduates tend to earn considerably more, the average law graduate will be around the £30k mark five years into their career.


A combination of maths, science and social theory, there’s more to studying economics than just the money. The topic studies the distribution of things like wealth, services and goods, as well as how these things are consumed and produced. The wide range of careers it can be applied to makes it a very lucrative degree, and it can even provide the background you need to set up your own business.

Average graduate salary: The average starting salary for an economics degree comes in at around £29,000.

Salary after five years: Five years into an economics career, and the average graduate will be earning around £40,000.


For maths graduates, the numbers don’t lie. All that algebra, trigonometry, calculus and equations equal one very profitable degree after you’ve graduated – providing a range of applicable, transferable skills that look very good on your resume if you’re pursuing things like statistics, accountancy and finance roles.

Average graduate salary: Those landing their first role in a maths-related role can expect around £26,000 for a starting salary.

Salary after five years: A Cambridge graduate can expect around £59,200 after five years. Elsewhere, the average clocks in around £37,000.


Tough to get into, medical students face quite the challenge during their studies. But, all that thorough, intensive training does translate into a healthy salary upon graduation.

Average graduate salary: Junior doctors tend to be on a median salary of £25,792, which may not be too different from the starting salaries mentioned here, but it’s worth noting…

Salary after five years: …that medicine has long attracted the highest average salary after five years, according to figures. Though economics and business courses might bring in the most money on an individual basis, the average medicine graduate earns around £46,600 five years after completing their course.

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