Understanding the link between Masters degrees and earning potential in the UK

In the contemporary job market, a Masters degree is not just a symbol of academic achievement – it’s a strategic tool that can significantly enhance your career prospects. In certain sectors, the distinction between a Bachelors degree and a Masters degree can have a profound impact on career and salary potential.

The value of a Masters degree in the job market

Enrolling in a Masters degree such as  a Master of Science (MSc), Master of Business Administration (MBA), or a specialised degree like a Master of Public Administration (MPA) means delving deeper into subject matter compared to an undergraduate programme. Advanced programmes like Masters or doctoral degrees equip postgraduates with a greater understanding of their field and help develop a number of valuable traits.

Because of this, employers often view candidates who have a Masters degree as more desirable for higher-level positions. This preference stems from the perception that candidates with Masters degrees possess a greater depth of knowledge, advanced research and critical analysis skills, a dedicated commitment to their field, and a mentality that is well-prepared for the complexities and challenges of the working world today.

“Having a relevant Masters degree could give you a crucial competitive edge in a crowded job market – employers are increasingly looking for ways to distinguish between candidates, and this higher-level qualification shows your ability to commit to an intense period of work,” says Prospects.

According to FindAMasters.com, holding a postgraduate qualification means your chance of gaining a professional occupation, over a less senior associate role, is more than 20% higher. It also notes that a Masters degree means someone is 20% more likely to be in a high-skilled job.

All of this is particularly true in rapidly evolving industries such as business or computing and information technology, where an advanced degree signifies that a person is not only well-versed in current best practices, but is also prepared to adapt and innovate as the field advances.

It’s also worth noting that the process of obtaining a Masters degree often involves developing a wide network of colleagues and other professionals. This can be invaluable in the job market, with connections frequently leading to job opportunities.

The impact of a Masters degree on job salary

The value of a Masters degree is also reflected in its impact on earning potential and its links to some of the highest-paying jobs available. Data from various sources indicates that someone with a Masters degree can expect a higher average salary than someone with just an undergraduate degree. What’s more, this difference is not just evident in starting salaries but continues throughout one’s career, with Masters degrees often leading to more senior, higher-paying roles over time.

For example, the Higher Education Policy Institute stated in its Postgraduate Education in the UK report that postgraduates earn 18% more on average than those with only undergraduate qualifications. 

What are the best Masters degrees in terms of earning potential?

From economists and human resource management professionals, to nurse practitioners and those in social work, a Masters degree is a good indicator of greater earning potential. However, certain types of Masters degrees are more likely to be associated with higher salaries and lower unemployment rates.

For example, a Master of Science (MSc) in Computer Science is highly valued in the tech industry, known for its high-paying jobs. Emerging fields like artificial intelligence are actively recruiting, while in information systems and cybersecurity, demand outstrips supply, leading to a higher median salary. Grads with these degrees often secure high-earning roles as software engineers or project managers.

Arguably the most lucrative postgraduate degree is the Master of Business Administration (MBA), renowned for its potential to significantly boost earning potential. MBA graduates often move into high-level management roles, with salaries reflecting their leadership positions and breadth of responsibilities.

Other in-demand Masters degrees associated with an enviable annual salary and payscale are in fields such as engineering management, economics and healthcare.

It’s important to note, however, that while all of these Masters degrees typically offer higher earning potential, this can also depend on other factors like the institution’s prestige and rankings, research specialities, location and experience level.

The added benefits of studying a Masters degree online

A Masters degree requires considerable investment in time and in resources, including student loans, but can pay dividends with respect to your career path, earning potential and job prospects, so it’s an increasingly popular option. Online Masters degree programmes offer several additional benefits::

  • Flexibility and accessibility. Online Masters programmes allow you to balance your studies with other commitments like full-time or part-time work, enabling you to earn an advanced education while still gaining a salary and real-world experience.
  • Relevance in the digital age. Studying online prepares students for the increasingly digital work environment.
  • Expanded networking opportunities. Online programmes typically have diverse student bodies, offering broader networking opportunities across different industries and geographies.
  • Cost-effectiveness. Online degrees can be more affordable, with pay-per-module fees and the elimination of associated costs like student housing or commuting.

Enhance your career prospects with an online Masters degree

Earn a Masters degree from a Russell Group university – without putting your life on hold – with a 100% online Masters degree from the University of York. Our online programmes give you the flexibility to fit your studies around your professional and personal commitments and have been designed for working professionals and ambitious career-changers.

Our programmes span degrees in management, business administration, public administration and computer science. There are six starts per year as well as a pay-per-module structure, so you can begin whenever you’re ready. You’ll be able to access course content and study anytime, anywhere, and on a variety of mobile devices.