Humanities Indicators
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Workforce  >  Career Paths of Graduates with Advanced Degrees in the Humanities
 
Earnings of Humanities Master’s Degree Recipients
(Updated October 2016)

Master’s degree recipients in the humanities have substantially lower median earnings than graduates with master’s degrees in other major academic fields. In part, this reflects the breadth of the “professional degree” category, which can range from a master’s degree with a certification in a specific type of work activity to a medical degree. Also contributing to the comparatively low salaries for master’s degree recipients in the humanities (and education) is the relatively large share of degree recipients in both fields working as teachers, who have traditionally been paid less than other workers of similar educational attainment.[1]

Findings and Trends

  • In 2013, college graduates with a master’s degree in the humanities or education had the lowest median earnings of any major academic field, $58,000, which is $22,000 below the median for all recipients of master’s and professional degrees (Indicator III-8aa). Graduates with a degree in engineering had the highest median earnings, $107,000.
  • Male recipients of humanities master’s degrees had median earnings of $63,000, which is $9,000 greater than their female counterparts but the lowest median earnings for men in any field. The 14.3% gender gap in earnings among humanities degree recipients was the narrowest found in any major academic field (both in dollars and as a percentage) and was nearly 20 percentage points less than for all fields combined (Indicator III-8bb).[2] The widest earnings gender gap (42.1%) was found among recipients of medical degrees (including M.D.’s) and degrees in health science.
III-8aa: Median Annual Earnings of Full-Time Workers with a Master’s or Professional Degree, by Gender and Field of Degree, 2013*

* Full-time workers are those who worked 35 or more hours per week for 50 or more weeks during the previous 12 months. Earnings estimates have been rounded to the nearest $1,000.

Source: Original analysis by the Humanities Indicators (www.humanitiesindicators.org) of data from the National Science Foundation, National Survey of College Graduates, 2013.

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III-8bb: Gender Earnings Gap among Full-Time Workers with a Master’s or Professional Degree, by Field of Degree, 2013*

* The earnings gap is the difference between male and female median annual earnings expressed as a percentage of male median earnings. Full-time workers are those who worked 35 or more hours per week for 50 or more weeks during the previous 12 months.

Source: Original analysis by the Humanities Indicators (www.humanitiesindicators.org) of data from the National Science Foundation, National Survey of College Graduates, 2013.

About this DataRelated Indicators
../cmsData/xls/tableIII-8bb_final.xlsx../cmsData/ppt/III-8bb.ppt../cmsData/pdf/III-8bb.pdf

Endnotes

[1] Herron, Jana, "Teacher Pay Hits Record—but Not a Good One,” Fiscal Times, 15 August 2016, http://www.thefiscaltimes.com/2016/08/15/Teacher-Pay-Hits-Record-Not-Good-One (accessed 9/19/2016).
[2] The earnings gender gap is the difference between male and female median earnings expressed as a percentage of male median earnings.