New Ranking: Higher Business Degrees That Are Sure to Pay


Business is the most popular major in the United States at the undergraduate and graduate college levels. But does majoring in business pay off?

A major new report and school rankings suggest the answer, in most cases, is a resounding yes.

In a study that is the first of its kind to focus on a major, the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce found that while graduate incomes and federal student loan debt vary by institution and degree level, the majority of commercial programs lead to a median income of approximately 10 times graduate debt repayment two years after program completion.

Where Does a Masters in Commerce Pay the Most? Georgetown CEW ranked the best schools and No. 1 is the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, where median earnings net of debt payments two years after graduation are $165,600. The top five B schools are Dartmouth College Tuck School of Business ($162,000), MIT Sloan School of Management ($159,600), Columbia Business School ($157,200) and Stanford University Graduate School of Business ($156 $000); numbers and order of schools are slightly different if only MBA graduates are considered: see tables below and on page 2.


Georgetown CEW, a research and policy institute within Georgetown’s McCourt School of Public Policy known for its college ROI rankings, based its new report on College Scorecard data from thousands of U.S. schools. The most popular degree pays off: Ranking the economic value of 5,500 business programs at more than 1,700 colleges finds that while the economic value of business programs is high, it is lower than the financial returns associated with health, engineering, computer and information science programs.

Two years after graduation, the CEW found, associate degree holders in business have a median annual income of $30,000 after paying off debt, while the financial performance of a degree in commerce is $43,200 after debt repayment for bachelor’s degree graduates and $51,600 for master’s degree graduates.

“Strong financial returns are good news for the more than 700,000 graduates who pursue the most popular field of study for bachelor’s and master’s degree graduates each year,” said Anthony P. Carnevale, author principal of the report and director of the CEW of Georgetown. “This information will help prospective students and their families assess the value of various business programs.”

For whom are business degrees the least lucrative? Women, who make up 43% of Master of Commerce graduates but have a median income about $23,000 lower than men (see chart below).


The CEW produced its report from several sources, primarily program-level data in the College Scorecard released by the U.S. Department of Education in February 2022. The report includes a sortable table of over 1,700 colleges and universities and 5,500 programs categorized by metrics, including income, debt repayments, and net income from debt repayments.

By institution, earnings net of debt payments are highest for graduates of Excelsior College in New York and Union County College in New Jersey ($44,400) at the associate degree level; Bismarck State College in North Dakota ($103,200) at the bachelor’s level; and the University of Pennsylvania ($165,600) at the master’s level. By field of study, these earnings are highest for business/commerce majors ($32,400) at the associate degree level, construction management majors ($62,400) at the bachelor’s degree level, and majors in management science and quantitative methods ($96,000) at the master’s level. , AI found.

“Income and debt at the degree, institution or program level only tells one side of the story. In a specific business program at a given institution, students may earn significantly more or less than typical earnings for that institution or program,” says Emma Wenzinger, report co-author and strategic communications specialist at CEW.


There are exceptions to the conventional wisdom that greater business education leads to higher earnings. For example, an associate’s degree in business administration, management, and operations from Southern New Hampshire University generates net debt income of $44,400 two years after graduation, one of the highest among Associate of Commerce degree programs. This gain exceeds typical returns from four of the six most common bachelor’s degrees in business, as well as returns from a common master’s degree in business, human resource management, and services. Similarly, some Bachelor of Commerce degrees have higher financial returns than Master’s degrees in the same field of study. A bachelor’s degree in finance from the University of Pennsylvania, for example, leads to median earnings of $121,200 two years after graduation, well above the median of $62,400 for master’s degrees in finance in all institutions.

There are also what the CEW calls “significant differences in earnings by gender and race/ethnicity.” Women make up a growing share of business graduates, but men with business degrees earn more at the median (see above). Additionally, “Forty-seven percent of young people (aged 22 to 27) with Bachelor of Commerce degrees are women, and they earn an average of $44,600 per year, compared to $50,500 for men. The contrast at the master’s level is even more striking: women make up 43% of master’s in commerce graduates and earn $75,600 compared to $99,000 for men at the median. »

Among racial and ethnic groups, CEW found that Asian workers have the highest median earnings for bachelor’s and master’s degrees in business. “For Bachelor of Commerce graduates, Asian workers’ entry-level earnings ($51,300) are followed by those of multiracial ($48,600), white ($48,600), Latino ($42,600) workers. ), Black ($40,700), and Native American/Alaskan Native workers ($39,400) For those with a master’s degree in business, Asian workers have the highest median annual earnings ($100,000), followed by white ($92,000), Latino ($77,700) and black ($65,000).

Occupancy is also key, found the CEW. “Early in their careers (between the ages of 22 and 27), 12% of business majors become accountants and auditors, earning an average of $57,000 per year. Among business majors, financial and investment analysts, and agents Sales, commodities and financial services have the highest median earnings, at $71,000 per year, followed by management analysts ($67,000) and computer systems analysts ($65,000). Secretaries and administrative assistants have the lowest earnings among business majors, at $38,000 a year.

See the next page for a list of the top 50 schools ranked by earnings of master’s graduates net of debt payments. Visit for more information.


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