Top 10 Highest Paying Business Degrees

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Is college worth it? This is a question that is being asked a lot these days, as the implications of the cost of college and the burden of student loans are being realized.

The general consensus is that yes, college is worth it. But the question is too broad and ambiguous to be at all useful.

Great College Deals is a website concerned with helping you get the most value out of your college education. We shine the spotlight on colleges that offer great values, and in the case of this article, degrees that are of great value.

The highest paying degrees you will find in colleges and universities around the country are in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and business. In many cases, the highest paying jobs in business involve a combination of business and STEM.

This article spotlights the 10 highest paying business majors: five at the bachelor’s level and five at the master’s level. We explain a bit about the kinds of jobs each degree program can lead to, and what you can expect to earn for each of the jobs in their highest-paying sectors.

The FAQ at the end of the article will focus on maximizing your college education and work experience to increase your chances of landing a high-paying business career. The degrees are listed in order of earning potential.

Highest Paying Business Degrees Reviewed

Bachelor’s in Management

Topping our list of the best business degrees for high-paying jobs is management. There are a lot of ways to major in business management. A bachelor’s of business administration with a management-focused concentration is one. There are also specific management degrees, some of which are general while others are more focused. There are a wide variety of career opportunities for people with strong management skills. For some management occupations, you will want to consider a specialization, minor, or double major. It’s important to note that while most management positions only require a bachelor’s degree, they also often require five or more years of experience working in the field. Following is a list of some of the top paying management jobs, their median salary according to BLS, and projected job growth rate over the next ten years.

  • Computer/Information Systems Manager: $146,360, 11%
  • Architectural/Engineering Manager: $144,830, 3%
  • Financial Manager: $129,890, 16%
  • Compensation and Benefits Manager: $122,270, 3%
  • Public Relations and Fundraising Manager: $116,180, 8%

If you intend to target positions like engineering manager or computer information systems manager, you would want to either double major, or major in engineering or computer information systems for undergraduate studies and get a master’s degree with a focus on management. For compensation and benefits managers, you want to focus on human resources management, while for PR/fundraising you want to combine management and communications. For a financial manager position you would want a management degree with a strong finance component (probably at least a minor).

Bachelor’s in Marketing

The bachelor’s degree in marketing has incredible earning potential. The two highest paying jobs you can get with a marketing degree and less than five years of experience are sales manager; and advertising, promotions, and marketing manager. Currently job growth for sales managers is about average (5%), and a bit faster than average for advertising, promotions, and marketing managers (8%).

While these jobs are similar, there are some basic differences. Sales managers are responsible for managing teams of employees engaged in sales to customers in a much more direct way. Advertising, promotions, and marketing managers are more involved with the development of overall marketing strategy.

The five marketing fields with the highest salaries are as follows.

  • Advertising/PR: $147,100
  • Company/Enterprise Management: $145,510
  • Professional/Scientific/Technical Services: $145,300
  • Manufacturing: $138,950
  • Wholesale Trade: $128,680

Bachelor’s in Actuarial Science

Actuarial Science is the application of finance theory, statistics, and mathematics to risk analysis. Most actuaries will work for insurance companies, designing the methods by which premiums are calculated. While you don’t have to major in actuarial science to become an actuary, it definitely helps. The coursework in most actuarial science programs is designed around preparing students for the seven incredibly difficult exams required to become an actuary.

While the degree might have extremely narrow applications compared to the other degrees on this list, there are also benefits. It’s quite difficult to become an actuary, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics is forecasting a 20% job growth in the field between now and 2028, so finding a job should be quite easy. The median pay for actuaries is $108,350 per year with just a bachelor’s degree and no work experience required. Following is a list of the top four industries employing actuaries, and the salary they can expect to make in each.

  • Professional/Scientific/Technical Services: $110,960
  • Finance and Insurance: $110,020
  • Government: $101,740
  • Company/Enterprise Management: $98,880

Bachelor’s in Mathematics

There are many positions open to mathematicians in the business world, but the pathway from a mathematics degree to those positions isn’t always obvious or clear. Finance firms have a habit of hiring mathematicians, engineers, and computer scientists and putting them to work on various projects; often, they work on the development of complex financial instruments.

Modern economics is heavily based on complex mathematical analysis, statistics, and probability. So a strong math background is essential for anyone who wants to go far in the field of economics. I would suggest majoring in mathematics, with either a second major in economics, or at least a minor in economics. Becoming an economist will require advanced study. A master’s degree is a minimum entry-level requirement but most economists earn a doctorate in the field. According to the BLS, economists earn an average annual salary of $105,020 per year. Job growth in the field is projected to be 8% between 2018 and 2028, which is faster than average.

It should also be noted that many finance-related career paths benefit from a strong background in mathematics as well. So earning a master’s in finance after your maths degree is another great option.

Bachelor’s in Supply Chain Management

Supply chain managers, categorized as logisticians by the BLS, and purchasing managers, buyers, and purchasing agents, earn a median salary between $69,000 and $120,000 per year. The highest 10% of purchasing managers earned more than $193,400 per year. This is one of those degrees that can get you a job that pays great with little to no work experience in the field. However, opportunities for advancement abound with job experience and earning an advanced degree.

Supply chain manager jobs are expected to grow at a rate of 5% between 2018 and 2028. However, purchasing manager, buyer, and purchasing agent jobs are actually expected to decline by 6% over the same period.

Supply chains are the foundation of the modern global marketplace. Supply chain managers are responsible for coordinating and overseeing a company’s supply chain. Major companies will often have many supply chain managers, responsible for overseeing portions of the overall supply chain. A good supply chain is invisible to most people. They never have to think about how the goods they purchase make it to the stores. However, there are many challenges in managing supply chains, especially global ones. The ethical implications of work conditions around the world, for instance, are one way that supply chains make their way into the public consciousness. Another way is when supply chains are disrupted, causing people to not be able to purchase the goods they need or want. Logistical work is fast paced, strategic, and can be stressful due to its unpredictable nature. If you like real-time decision making, can deal with crisis management, have leaderships skills and analytics skills, and are looking for a job that requires critical thinking, then this is a great choice for you.

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Master of Business Administration

The MBA is probably the best known and most popular advanced business degree. This degree is the pathway to upper management and executive positions. If you’re interested in climbing your way into positions like chief executive officer (CEO), chief financial officer (CFO), and other high-level management positions, the MBA can be a great choice. MBA programs tend to cover a broad spectrum of advanced business knowledge, which makes them great for somebody who did their undergraduate degree in a different field.

For instance, if you want to become an engineering manager or information technology manager, and you already have an undergrad degree in the field and work experience, the MBA can give you the tools you need to be successful as a manager.

While you can work your way into management and executive positions without an advanced degree, the MBA is the key that unlocks many of the highest-paying executive positions. Following is the median pay that can be expected for top executives in various professions.

  • Professional, Scientific, Technical: $208,000+
  • Manufacturing: $208,000+
  • Healthcare/Social Assistance $166,410
  • Government: $110,000

But not everybody can be a top executive. The number of positions is quite limited. So what are you looking at for pay as a general manager or operations manager in top professions? The numbers are as follows.

  • Professional, Scientific, Technical: $140,840
  • Manufacturing: $118,180
  • Wholesale Trade: $104,880
  • Construction: $102,270
  • Retail Trade: $73,190

So, as you can see, the return on investment for an MBA is quite high. With online learning, MBAs are easier than ever to earn while keeping your current job.

Master’s in Finance

We chose to spotlight a master’s in finance over a bachelor’s because most of the best jobs in finance are unlocked by a master’s degree. Finance professionals work in commercial banking, as personal financial advisors, as finance managers, as public accountants, and as financial analysts in every sector of business.

Finance is a complex industry and difficult to quantify. So many of the highest paying positions and jobs, like investment banker and fund manager, are also somewhat rare, and the BLS doesn’t really have numbers for them.

However, financial manager is one of the best paying jobs in business, though the pay does vary across industries. Here are the median salaries of financial managers in five of the largest industries in the United States.

  • Professional/Scientific/Technical Services: $152,810
  • Company/Enterprise Management: $145,280
  • Manufacturing: $130,900
  • Finance and Insurance: $125,600
  • Government: $114,250

Master’s in Human Resources

While a bachelor’s in human resources is a great start to your career, the best positions are opened up by a combination of experience and an advanced degree. Human resources is a multifaceted job that includes recruiting, hiring, firing, mediating disputes between employees, mediating disputes between employees and the company, sometimes negotiating with labor unions, or for labor unions, depending on where you work. HR also oversees payroll and compensation/benefits.

Every single company has to have an HR department in order to function properly, meaning it’s a crucial position that requires highly competent people, but it’s also quite common. Human resources managers and compensation and benefits managers earn roughly the same across the most common industries in the United States. Following is an example of the kind of pay you can expect across various industries.

  • Professional/Scientific/Technical Services: $131,340
  • Company/Enterprise Management: $129,510
  • Manufacturing: $115,000
  • Government: $102,660
  • Healthcare Administration/Social Assistance: $99,380

Master’s in Economics

Economics is a broad field with lots of applications and many different types of jobs. On some level, all economists are researchers. Economists in academia or working in think-tanks often conduct their research with the goal of influencing economic policy, advancing economic science, and solving various economic problems on a scale that ranges from local to global.

Economists working in various industries still conduct research, but are more focused on analysis and using economic theory to solve problems and create financial reports and strategies for their companies. Economists working for the government conduct research and analyse data in order to develop better economic policies and government services and programs. The five major industries that employ economists, and what economists can expect to make in those industries, are as follows.

  • Finance/Insurance: $120,770
  • *Federal Government: $119,580
  • Scientific R&D: $114,140
  • Management/Scientific/Technical Consulting: $108,190
  • **State Government: $73,400

*Excluding Postal Service
**Excluding education and hospitals

Master’s in Statistics

Combining a master’s in statistics with any business undergraduate degree puts you in a great position. Every industry needs statisticians. The job outlook for statisticians is unlike almost any other field, with an expectation of a 31% increase in jobs between now and 2028, according to the BLS. Jobs are most commonly found in the federal government, research and development in engineering, physical sciences, life sciences, insurance, healthcare and social assistance, and colleges, universities, and professional schools. The highest 10% of statisticians earn more than $146,770 per year. Median earnings across their most common industries are as follows.

  • Federal Government: $106,670
  • Science/Engineering/Life Science R&D: $102,500
  • Insurance: $88,040
  • Healthcare/Social Assistance: $80,920
  • Colleges/Universities/Professional Schools: $74,370


What is the highest paying business major?

Generally speaking, the highest paying business major is business management. According to the website Payscale, the average starting salary of someone with an undergraduate marketing degree is $73,000 per year. However, the highest paying business degree is a master’s degree in business administration, better known as an MBA. The same website reports that those with an MBA begin their careers with an average salary of $91,000.

What are the most in-demand majors in the business field?

According to, business majors account for four of the current top 12 most in-demand majors. In order, the most in-demand majors in the business field are business administration, accounting, finance, and marketing.

Is a business major easy?

The overall difficulty of any major will mainly depend upon the student and the university. Depending on the specific business subject being studied, you can expect your business courses to cover advanced mathematics, economics, management and organizational theory, and communication, among other things.

How much does a business major make right out of college?

Starting salaries for business majors vary from subject to subject. According to Payscale, the average salary for a new Bachelor of Business Administration grad is $69,000, while a new Bachelor of Science in Business Management can expect to be offered about $73,000 per year to begin.

What are the best universities for a business major?

University of Pennsylvania, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and University of California — Berkeley top U.S. News & World Report‘s list of the best universities for an undergraduate business degree. The best universities for graduate-level business work include Stanford University, University of Pennsylvania’s The Wharton School of Business, and University of Chicago.

Job Stats: Bureau of Labor Statistics


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GCD Staff
August 2020

This concludes our ranking of the top 10 highest paying business degrees.