A List Of The Top 10 Best Doctoral Degrees By Salary | Grad School Hub (2023)

A List Of The Top 10 Best Doctoral Degrees By Salary | Grad School Hub (1)

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Updated February 17, 2022

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Doctoral Degrees by Salary

  • PhD in Statistics
  • PhD in Biomedical Engineering
  • PhD in Physics
  • PhD in Engineering
  • PhD in Physical Chemistry
  • PhD in Pharmacology
  • PhD Electrical Engineering
  • PhD in Computer Science
  • PhD in Organic Chemistry
  • PhD in Chemical Engineering

A doctoral degree (PhD) is the highest degree you can earn in a particular field, but obtaining it isn’t easy. On average, doctoral candidates dedicate seven to ten years of their life earning a doctorate after completing undergraduate work. However, the earning potential varies greatly depending on the discipline.

Some of the most lucrative PhDs offer six-figure early career salaries, while mid-career salaries (based on 10+ years of work experience in the field) exceed $130,000 per year.

To find out the best Phds with the greatest earning potential, we looked at PayScale’s College Salary Report, which included a list of the highest paying PhDs based on alumni salary. We listed the top 10 best PhDs in increasing order based on mid-career salaries. The degree in our #1 spot offers the highest salary potential based on ten or more years of experience working in the field.

Explore these promoted online degree programs.

These top, accredited schools offer a variety of online graduate degree programs. Figuring out where to apply? Consider one of these online Master’s or PhD programs.

What Are the Highest Paying Doctorate Degree Jobs?

#10 - PhD in Statistics

Early Career Salary: $105,000
Mid-Career Salary: $131,000

Statisticians help solve problems in businesses, healthcare industries, and organizations by collecting and analyzing data through statistical methods. Careers as statisticians require a master’s degree and beyond. Earning a doctoral degree in statistics sets you above the competition and offers a high earning potential. Also, the job outlook for statisticians is extremely favorable. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicates that the projected growth rate is expected to increase by 33%, which is well above the national average. Industries employing statisticians include the federal government, financial institutions, and scientific research and development services. A PhD is required for most research positions.

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#9 - PhD in Biomedical Engineering

Early Career Salary: $88,100
Mid-Career Salary: $133,000

Biomedical engineering has become a popular field of interdisciplinary research. This field is constantly evolving and requires experts well versed in life sciences, computational methods, and theory. Earning a PhD in biomedical engineering opens the door to research opportunities in a wide range of fields. Most biomedical engineers work in hospitals, manufacturing, research facilities, and universities. A doctoral degree is required for most research opportunities, especially at university settings. The job outlook is favorable. According to the BLS, the projected growth rate will increase by as much as 5% over the next seven years. Both early and mid-career salaries are also on the rise.

#8 - PhD in Physics

Early Career Salary: $93,700
Mid-Career Salary: $135,000

Physicists usually require a PhD for careers in academia and research. This high-paying doctoral degree leads to jobs as research advisors, lead physicists, or physics professors. After receiving a PhD, many degree candidates begin their careers in academia as postdoctoral researchers. Employment of physicists is projected to increase 7% between now and the year 2024, about as fast as the national average for all occupations. The BLS reports approximately 1,500 new jobs added to the 20,000 existing jobs over the next several years. This specialized doctoral degree offers one of the highest mid-career salaries on our list.

#7 - PhD in Engineering

Early Career Salary: $93,600
Mid-Career Salary: $137,000

A PhD in engineering is the highest degree offered in the field. While a doctoral degree is not required in many areas of engineering, research opportunities are only awarded to doctoral candidates and graduates. The degree offers several areas for independent research, such as chemical engineering, computer engineering, materials science, and mechanics. Some schools offer a general degree track instead of focusing on a particular specialty. Jobs for PhD candidates include director of engineering roles, engineering technicians, and project managers. On average, the expected growth rate for engineering jobs over the next seven years is 3%, according to the BLS.

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#6 - PhD in Physical Chemistry

Early Career Salary: $73,600
Mid-Career Salary: $138,000

According to the American Chemical Society, physical chemistry is the study of how matter behaves on both a molecular and atomic level. It is also the study of how chemical reactions occur. Most physical chemists work in laboratories and research facilities. These research opportunities require the highest degree possible in the field. Earning a PhD in physical chemistry provides ideal training for high-tech and materials science careers that pay extremely well. While the job growth is below average for physical chemists, the median annual wage puts this doctoral degree in the middle of our list of high-paying PhDs.

#5 - PhD in Pharmacology

Early Career Salary: $75,400
Mid-Career Salary: $141,000

A PhD in pharmacology lays the groundwork for a career as a researcher or pharmacist in various health organizations. PhD programs offer rigorous training in the study of drugs and chemicals on living organisms. These programs build on biochemistry, cell biology, molecular biology, neuroscience, and physiology disciplines, preparing degree candidates as experts in their research. While the mid-career salary is high, entry-level pay can be average depending on work location. For instance, grocery store pharmacists may earn a lower salary than an entry-level research pharmacist. According to the BLS, the job outlook for pharmacists is expected to be 3%, which is slower than the 7% average growth rate.

#4 - PhD Electrical Engineering

Early Career Salary: $103,000
Mid-Career Salary: $144,000

Advances in electrical engineering are seen in everyday life. One hundred years ago, the radio offered entertainment and fifty years later, the television replaced it. These innovations and advancements require electrical engineering. Earning a PhD in electrical engineering opens the door to research and invention career paths in fields that offer steady growth such as aviation, computing, manufacturing, and transportation. Career advancement often requires further education and training. Most team leaders holding supervisory positions have advanced degrees like a PhD in electrical engineering.

#3 - PhD in Computer Science

Early Career Salary: $118,000
Mid-Career Salary: $145,000

A PhD in computer science allows students to become experts within a technical subfield of computer science. Applicants to this type of doctoral degree program should have obtained a bachelor’s or master’s degree in computer science or show evidence of preparation in related subjects. Most computer research scientist roles require a PhD. The BLS reports the job outlook for computer scientists is expected to increase by 15% through the year 2024 (8% faster than the national average). Both academic and non-academic careers are accessible to PhD graduates of computer science. Non-academic jobs include computer hardware engineers, information research scientists, or other specialists on multidisciplinary projects like data mining, programming, or robotics.

#2 - PhD in Organic Chemistry

Early Career Salary: $83,400
Mid-Career Salary: $146,000

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The mid-career salary for a PhD in organic chemistry is tied with chemical engineering, although the early career salary is lower. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment change is steady, but the job outlook through 2024 is only 4% (slower than the 7% average). Most organic chemistry doctoral candidates pursue jobs in research and find themselves leading research teams, while some find teaching jobs in colleges and universities. Advanced research jobs require PhDs in organic chemistry from accredited institutions with programs approved by the American Chemical Society.

#1 - PhD in Chemical Engineering

Early Career Salary: $96,100
Mid-Career Salary: $146,000

Chemical engineering is a branch of engineering that combines physical sciences like chemistry and physics, life sciences like biochemistry and microbiology, and mathematics to solve problems in the use of chemicals, drugs, food, or fuel. Chemical engineering PhD programs are designed to equip engineering professionals with expert knowledge of the field's core fundamentals and current research practices and findings. In recent years, chemical engineering has been recognized as the best doctoral degree by salary-offering steady job growth and high early career and mid-career salaries. Chemical engineers often work in biotechnology and business services as researchers.

Everything You Should Know About the Highest Paying Doctorates

As you research and navigate which doctoral path will best direct you toward your chosen field, your decision process will involve other important factors for consideration. Doctoral programs differ tremendously from each other, one key difference being research versus professional doctoral programs. As you begin to review the programs you’re interested in, do your best to find out how well the program will fit with your lifestyle, learning style, and long-term goals.

When is a good time to earn a Ph.D?

Since there is no such thing as the perfect time to earn a doctorate degree, you’ll have to find the time frame that works best for you. Finding the right time for you to pursue your Ph.D. is important because it takes a long time to earn it — anywhere from 4-8 years. Some people choose to complete their higher education degrees all at once, however, this doesn’t work for everyone. Life’s circumstances get in the way or perhaps you wish to get some career experience first before you seek a Ph.D.

How can I pay for my Ph.D?

There are three common ways to pay for your Ph.D.

  • Pay for it yourself through federal financial aid, scholarships, loans, or out of pocket: This method can be a challenge to meet financially for many but, for some, it is doable. If you’re looking for financial assistance, you can apply for loans, scholarships, and federal financial aid in order to make that price tag a bit more affordable.
  • Teach at the university you’re attending: A common way for students to earn the financial support they need to earn their Ph.D. is to teach at the school they are attending. This can cut down on their costs for their education as well as put money toward it. Many graduate students land teaching assistant jobs that provide flexibility for their students, as enough compensation to cover a portion of their tuition.
  • Ask your employer to pay for it: Many companies and organizations will offer financial support to their employees to pursue their higher education and offer tuition assistance. Whether you qualify for tuition assistance, however, may depend on the type of degree you are pursuing.

Can I do my Ph.D. online?

There are not many Ph.D. programs that are offered online, but this depends on the type of degree you are pursuing. Creating an online Ph.D. program isn’t impossible, however, doctorate degrees are contoured to individual students and often require taking in-person exams or labs in-person at some point.

Explore these promoted online degree programs.

These top, accredited schools offer a variety of online graduate degree programs. Figuring out where to apply? Consider one of these online Master’s or PhD programs.

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This concludes our listing of the 10 Best Doctoral Degrees by Salary.

Latest Posts


What is the easiest degree to get a doctorate in? ›

Which Subject Is Easy for a PhD? Subjects like the humanities, education, theology, and psychology are generally considered the easiest, mostly because they involve less quantitative research and rely on qualitative study methods.

Which PhD is the hardest? ›

The Doctor of Divinity (DDiv) and the Doctor of Civil Law (DCL) are considered by Oxford to outrank all other degrees, including a Doctor of Medicine (MD) degree. The DDiv is usually awarded for academic accomplishments beyond the PhD level.

Which PhDs are worth getting? ›

25 Highest Paying Doctorate Degrees
  • Immunology.
  • Physics.
  • Aerospace Engineering.
  • Math.
  • Management.
  • Chemical Engineering.
  • Economics.
  • Pharmacology.
Dec 1, 2022

Who makes more money MD or PhD? ›

For MDs, depending on their specialty and setting, the average annual salary is around $220k. For MD PhDs, depending on the type of role and place of employment, the average annual salary is about $100k.

Who hires most PhDs? ›

Google hires the most PhDs, followed by Intel Corporation, and Apple.

Which PhD is most in demand in USA? ›

Top PhD programs include physical therapy, education, administration, chemistry, and more. Political science, for example, allows you to work in one of the highest paying PhD jobs, which makes this one of the best options. PhDs involving technology are also popular.

What is the best age to start PhD? ›

The age at which most people receive their PhD varies from person to person, but typically falls between the mid-twenties and early thirties. The average age for a PhD recipient is approximately thirty-one and a half years old. Of course, there are some who complete their PhD much earlier or later than this.

Which is the most common doctoral degree awarded? ›

There are a number of doctoral degrees; the most common is the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), awarded in many different fields, ranging from the humanities to scientific disciplines.

Is a PhD harder than a doctorate? ›

A doctorate degree is not easier than a PhD. They're different and both take hard work. It would be best to research the area of study you are pursuing. A PhD demands years of original research, while a doctorate degree looks at an existing body of knowledge and looks into theories created by this knowledge.

What GPA do you need for a doctorate? ›

With GPA, it is recommended that students have at least a 3.0 cumulative GPA and around a 3.5 discipline-specific GPA to remain competitive for Ph. D.

Which PhD takes the shortest time? ›

Shortest Doctoral Programs Online
  • Accounting.
  • Business Administration.
  • Counseling & Therapy.
  • Criminal Justice / Homeland Security.
  • Education.
  • Finance.
  • Healthcare Administration.
  • Human Services.
Oct 29, 2022

Is it better to have two masters or a PhD? ›

PhDs, however, are designed to be independent research endeavours, with limited guidance from professors and departments, aiming to verify the answer to a specific question. So, you should choose a second Master's if you want to know a bit of everything, and a PhD if you want to be an expert in your field.

What percent of US has a PhD? ›

Less than 2% of the world's population has a doctorate. According to the US Census Bureau, only 1.2% of the US population has a PhD. This makes having a PhD very rare. But does this rarity indicate value?

Do most people with PhDs go Doctor? ›

A doctoral degree (PhD) is a degree that one earns after a master's degree. A PhD entitles a person to use the title doctor. These are the social and physical scientists who conduct and evaluate published research.

What is the starting salary after PhD? ›

An entry-level PhD candidate makes an average salary of Rs 4.3 Lakhs annually with fewer than three years of experience. An experienced PhD scholar with 10-20 years of experience gets an average salary of Rs. 12.1 lakhs annually, compared to a mid-career PhD scholar with 4-9 years of experience.

What is the difference between a PhD and doctorate? ›

One of the main differences is that a PhD is typically an academic degree, while a doctorate can be either academic or professional. Additionally, a PhD is highly theoretical and research-focused, while a professional doctorate is practical and geared toward applying research to specific professional settings.

DO PhDs get paid more than masters? ›

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics , people with a master's degree earn an average weekly salary of $1,497. Those with a Ph. D. earn an average weekly salary of $1,883.

Is a PhD ranked higher than a MD? ›

MD: Academic Prestige. While both the MD and the PhD are highly regarded qualifications, it could be argued that there is (in general) slightly more prestige attached to having a PhD, as the course is longer and the research more thorough.

Is it better to get a PhD or MD? ›

“Doctor of philosophy: the highest college or university degree, or someone who has this”. A PhD can be awarded for carrying out original research in any field, not just medicine. In comparison to an MD, a PhD in a Medicinal field is focused on finding out new knowledge, as opposed to applying current knowledge.

Do employers care about PhD? ›

A PhD makes a candidate very attractive to employers looking to fill higher-level, research-driven positions. Furthermore, with a PhD you will be qualified for more jobs, and will have more career options than you would with just a bachelor's or master's degree.

What school produces the most PhDs? ›

Total Ph.D.
Search Search in Rank (Total) Institution (Total) #PhD (Total) Rank (Adjusted) Institution (Adjusted) #PhD (Adjusted)
Rank (Total)Institution (Total)#PhD (Total)
1University of California, Berkeley2638
2University of Michigan1903
3Cornell University1675
8 more rows

Are PhDs still worth it? ›

If there is something really specific you want to spend three year or more years learning then a PhD can be a great opportunity. They're also great for building soft skills such as independence, team work, presenting and making decisions.

Where are PhD students paid best? ›

It is very interesting that even though Denmark has the highest minimum PhD salaries, Switzerland has the highest maximum PhD salaries. It shows that the salary of a PhD student in Switzerland could differ significantly among Swiss universities.

Where do most PhDs go? ›

Recall that most PhDs in potentially permanent positions work in the private sector. Many of them secured employment in the fields of computer software, engineering, and data science.

What is the average salary of a PhD graduate in USA? ›

The average phd salary in the USA is $99,500 per year or $47.84 per hour. Entry level positions start at $80,000 per year while most experienced workers make up to $140,000 per year.

Is 40 too old for PhD? ›

In 2020, the average age of a graduate from a PhD program in the United States was 33. However, 6% of the graduates were over 45. When people ask what the average age of a PhD student is, many times they're really asking, “Am I too old to get a PhD?” The answer is almost always no.

What age do most people finish PhD? ›

You enter a PhD program at 25 or even 30, the average PhD duration takes six to eight years. That means you will finish when you are around 30 to 37.

Can I start a PhD at 60? ›

There are a few PhD students at ANU who enrolled in their PhD in their late sixties and early seventies. It's never too late to pursue the PhD dream, but what's it like for people who are older to be surrounded by younger students all the time?

What is the easiest and fastest doctorate degree? ›

Generally, education, humanities, and the social sciences are considered the easiest fields in which to pursue degrees.

Should I put PhD after my name? ›

Yes. There's no harm in including PhD after your name on LinkedIn, and it may help. As your career progresses, you can decide whether or not to keep it as your skill-set gets more defined and you build a reputation for other things.

Do you call someone with a PhD Doctor? ›

Holders of research doctorates – PhDs and similar degrees – commonly use the title "doctor".

What are the disadvantages of getting a doctorate degree? ›

Here are some of the drawbacks along with ways you might address them:
  • Incurring additional costs and time. Doctorate degrees can take several additional years to complete compared to standard higher education degrees. ...
  • Increasing workload. ...
  • Limited job experience. ...
  • Working independently.
Nov 28, 2022

Is getting a doctorate hard? ›

While it's entirely worth it, earning your doctorate is a grind. It's difficult, time-consuming, and, at times, it can be downright frustrating. Success is often determined by a person's support system—the people they surround themselves with in the pursuit of their degree.

Can you get into PhD with 2.5 GPA? ›

Yes, many students get into grad school with a 2.5 GPA. While the GPA on your college transcripts is an important consideration for graduate admissions at many schools, it's only one factor among many in terms of your overall applicant profile.

Can I do doctorate without masters? ›

Generally, you need a Master of Research to apply to a doctoral programme. However, if you graduated your Bachelor's with an Honours or double degree you might still be considered for a PhD.

Does a PhD guarantee a higher salary? ›

Earning a PhD does not guarantee you a high salary. Instead, it opens up your career options and gives you the opportunity to pursue higher-paying jobs.

Does a PhD boost your salary? ›

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in 2020, doctoral degree holders earned a median weekly salary over 20% higher than those with a bachelor's degree. Master's degree salaries were also significantly higher—over 18% greater than those who stopped their higher education at the bachelor's level.

Do PhD students get paid enough? ›

While PhD students generally don't earn a traditional salary, there are a number of ways they may be able to financially sustain themselves while earning their degree, like pursuing paid fellowships, paid research opportunities, or part-time or freelance employment.

How can PhD students make extra money? ›

6 Ways to Earn Additional Income as a PhD Student
  1. Fellowships. There are a wide variety of academic and professional fellowships that offer funding that can increase your income as a graduate student. ...
  2. On-campus jobs. ...
  3. Cash-based part-time jobs. ...
  4. Freelance work. ...
  5. Consulting work. ...
  6. Help faculty prepare grant applications.
Mar 25, 2021

Do all PhD programs pay you? ›

Do All PhD Students Get a Stipend? Not all PhD students get stipends. However, most students in traditional programs do get stipends because these are full-time programs that require full-time attention, if not more.

Is a PhD worth it pay? ›

Certain industries will greatly reward PhD-holders with higher salaries than those without PhDs. Again it ultimately depends on how valuable your skills are. I've known PhD holders to do very well going into banking, science consultancy, technology and such forth.


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