Highest Paying PhD Degrees

A Ph.D. in astronomy can provide a six-figure salary.

A Ph.D. in astronomy can provide a six-figure salary.

Physicians and lawyers often top the list of highest paying occupations in the nation, which stands to reason. Physicians must hold medical doctor or doctor of osteopathy degrees -- M.D.s or O.D.s -- to practice. Lawyers need J.Ds. These degrees can take anywhere from seven to 11 years to earn. But other advanced degrees can provide you with similar earnings, and some are in disciplines that may surprise you.

Ph.D. in Mathematics

Mathematicians often hold advanced degrees beyond a bachelor of science, and the additional years of study provide greater earnings. As of 2011, half of all mathematicians earned at least $101,040 a year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The top 10 percent of earners, however, made more than $152,000 a year.

Ph.D. in Physics

A Ph.D. in physics is needed for most research positions for physicists. Because this advanced degree takes anywhere from five to seven years to complete, it isn’t uncommon to walk away with a job that pays a six-figure salary. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that physicists averaged $112,090 a year in 2011. However, the top 10 percent of earners made just over $171,430 a year.

Ph.D. in Astronomy

As with physicists, astronomers in research positions must hold Ph.Ds., and the five to seven years it takes to earn this advanced degree can improve salaries. As of 2011, the average astronomer earned $101,630 a year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The top 10 percent of earners did even better, making at least $163,950 a year.

Ph.D. in Economics

Although entry-level positions may require just a bachelor’s degree, most economists in higher-level jobs hold either a master’s degree or Ph.D. In 2011, economists earned an average of $100,270 a year, reports the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But your choice of employer can improve earnings. In fact, working in depository credit intermediation -- managing loans made from deposited funds -- can provide a salary of just over $141,000 a year. Central banks, on the other hand, offer economists an average salary of just over $135,000 a year.

Ph.D. in Computer Science

Computer and information research scientists usually need to devote four to five years of study beyond a bachelor’s degree to earn a Ph.D., and the additional schooling can provide a six-figure salary. In 2011, half of all computer and information research scientists earned at least $101,000 a year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The top 10 percent of earners fared even better, making over $151,000 a year.

 

About the Author

Based in Minneapolis, Minn., Dana Severson has been writing marketing materials for small-to-mid-sized businesses since 2005. Prior to this, Severson worked as a manager of business development for a marketing company, developing targeted marketing campaigns for Big G, Betty Crocker and Pillsbury, among others.

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images