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According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), the majors with the highest average starting salary are led by petroleum engineering, computer programming, computer engineering, computer science, as well as electrical, electronics, and communications engineering.

A new report from NACE’s Summer 2021 Salary Survey shows the average is 2.5% above the average starting salary of $53,889 for the Class of 2019 and a gain of 8.5% from the Class of 2018’s final average starting salary of $50,944.

The salary data presented were gathered from 249 schools that provided salary data by specific program or major. NACE’s national Class of 2020 First-Destination Survey of the Class of 2020 graduates reported to NACE through May 15, 2021.

“In some cases, salary increases most likely reflect these unique times,” says Shawn VanDerziel, NACE executive director. “For example, the increased demand for nurses as frontline workers during the COVID-19 pandemic may have fueled the 2.1% increase in the average starting salary for registered nursing majors, from $57,416 for these graduates from the Class of 2019 to $58,626 for Class of 2020 registered nursing graduates.”

Top-Paid Majors Among Class of 2020 Graduates Earning Bachelor’s Degrees

  • Petroleum engineering $87,989
  • Computer programming $86,098
  • Computer engineering $85,996
  • Computer science $85,766
  • Electrical, electronics, and communications engineering $80,819
  • Operations research $80,166
  • Computer and information science $78,603
  • Statistics $75,916
  • Applied mathematics $73,558
  • Chemical engineering $72,713

Since 1956, NACE has been the leading source of information about the employment of college graduates. The Summer 2021 Salary Survey report provides actual starting salaries and serves as the final salary report for the college Class of 2020. The figures reported are for base salaries only and do not include bonuses, commissions, fringe benefits, or overtime rates. For more information, visit www.naceweb.org.

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