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by Rob Porter | October 06, 2023


When deciding on a degree program, there are many things to consider. Is the field something you’re passionate about? What is the job outlook for the next ten or twenty years? Along with this, students may be concerned with earning enough money to make ends meet and pay off their student loan debt. Using data gathered from NACE’s winter 2023 Salary Survey, we’ve compiled the top 15 degrees that are most in-demand by employers, along with their starting salary ranges in 2023.

Let’s start off with bachelor’s degrees. In 2023, degrees in finance were in the greatest demand, with starting salaries reaching as high as $68,000 per year. Depending on factors such as person’s location, this is a very respectable salary, especially early on in their career. Of the top 5 most in-demand bachelor’s degrees in 2023, the ones with the highest earning potential for graduates were degrees in information sciences & systems, accounting, and computer science. See the chart below for the full list of degrees and their starting salary ranges.

As we move through the data, you’ll notice that computer science invariably falls into the very top of the list of most in-demand degrees, and is often among the highest paying as it relates to starting salary. As more companies begin to leverage artificial intelligence in the coming years, the demand for computer science degrees will most certainly continue to increase.

Next, we’ll move onto the most in-demand master’s degrees of 2023. When looking at the chart below, the first thing you’ll notice is that there is quite a bit of overlap when compared with bachelor’s degrees. In addition to this, the starting salary ranges vary wildly when compared with our previous chart. For example, those who earned a master’s degree in accounting weren’t paid much more than those with a bachelor’s degree. Conversely, the earning potential for a new hire in business administration was considerably higher with a master’s degree.

Not for the faint of heart, doctorate degrees require a whole ton of rigorous research and writing, and in most cases, you’ll be asked to put together a dissertation. Considered to be the capstone of a doctorate degree program, a dissertation could be anywhere between 100 to 500 pages in length—yikes. It goes without saying, then, that doctorate degrees are rare. In fact, only around 1.2% of the current U.S. population has a PhD. Nevertheless, those with a doctorate degree will enjoy a much higher earning potential in their career when compared to professionals with bachelor’s or master’s degrees. It’s up to the individual to decide whether the student debt is worth the jump into the world of PhD-level work.

Interestingly, the only overlap in the most in-demand degrees of 2023 between bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate degrees is in computer science. This further demonstrates the growing demand for roles in the tech industry, specifically in artificial intelligence. Here, the starting salary range is much higher for PhD graduates when compared to those with master’s degrees, and new hires with a doctorate in computer science might make as much as $142,000 per year.

It’s also worth mentioning that each of the top 5 most in-demand doctorate degrees of 2023 fell into the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) categories. This will likely become a trend moving forward, as interest in STEM studies is continuing to grow along with the demand for STEM workers.

Always take into consideration how your career might unfold in the future. Will there be an increased need for your role in the decades to come? You may also want to consider whether you feel that your earning potential outweighs the student debt incurred during a particular degree program. Perhaps most importantly, your degree program and subsequent career should align with your skills, interests, and values.