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Degree subjects that earn the most and least money

Updated: Jul 1, 2023



Although for most young people it's absolutely worth it to get a degree, according to statistics, a third of UK students will leave university with debts exceeding £30k, and half may struggle to repay them within five years.


While being a graduate of one of the 24 Russell Group universities definitely gives one a competitive advantage when it comes to how much their degree pays afterwards, another important factor for future earnings is the choice of what to study at university.


According to the most recent Institute for Fiscal Studies report on the impact of undergraduate degrees on lifetime earnings, while subjects like medicine or economics earn average net lifetime returns* of around £500k, average net returns for agriculture,

English, physical sciences and communications are around zero, with creative arts and social care being the worst subjects in terms of lifetime returns.


It should be noted, of course, that for the majority of subjects, returns vary a lot depending on the person, with a return of more than £1m for more than 10% of those who studied economics and returns below £70k for the bottom 10% who made the same choice.


Nursing and education probably won't make one rich, but they turn out to be good, solid choices for almost all women, while maths and computing are worth it for almost all men.


Subjects bringing the most positive returns for women:


Pharmacology

Business

Economics

Law

Medicine

Education

Maths

Nursing

Computing

Politics


Least positive returns: creative arts, languages, philosophy


Subjects bringing the most positive returns for men:


Economics

Medicine

Computing

Maths

Engineering

Architecture

Business

Pharmacology

Law

Geography


Least positive returns: creative arts, social care, agriculture


*This is the sum of the increase (or decrease) in earnings associated with attending university at each age, plus the value of maintenance loans received and minus the value of any student loan repayments and taxes paid, all discounted.


Want to know more about what it's like to study in the UK and how to get into the best universities in the country? LEO International Online School offers a diverse and intensive two–year A-Level programme designed to prepare students for university entry in the United Kingdom. Learn more about this programme and our other courses here, and don't hesitate to contact us at info@leo-school.uk.

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