Determining the most valuable university degrees depends on what criteria makes a degree valuable. One basic way of measuring a degree is by ranking the average starting salary of graduates entering the workforce. Bloomberg Businessweek partnered with PayScale in 2012 to dig deeper and calculate the cost of a degree at various top-ranking universities compared with the average net earnings over a 30-year career.
According to a study by Scholarships as reported by CollegeTimes, engineering degrees are the most valuable. Of this top group, chemical engineering degrees earn graduates an average starting salary of £36,335. Computer engineering graduates come in second with £35,670, and electrical/electronics engineers start at an average salary of £34,384. Engineering degrees win out because of their flexibility: students interested in engineering have a variety of fields to go into from working with hardware to working with software as a computer engineer or sticking to an analytic or statistics role as a mathematics or statistics engineer.
Financial, business and economics degrees
Economics degrees are often thought to be valuable, but this is not necessarily the case. In a Scholarship study, accounting graduates started at an average of £29,719, with economics majors earning an average of £29,374. Business management majors earn an average of £25,902 while marketing graduates start at an average salary of £23,569. CollegeTimes points out that for most of these degrees, a bachelor's degree is sufficient for the starting salary, though some fields may require a master's or even Ph.D. to earn the high end of the salary bracket.
In a study by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, liberal arts degrees, such as English, history, art, biology and chemistry, ranked tenth on the list of most valuable degrees with an average starting salary of £20,020. Of note about liberal arts degrees is that, though they are not as high earners as engineering or finance degrees, they have experienced an increase in average starting salary of 6.1 per cent since 2010.
Degree value by University
Of course, where you go to university can also impact how much you will make. The annual university league table can influence this but a number of repeat performers usually remain at the top of the table. This include Cambridge, Oxford, London School of Economics, Imperial College London, Durham, St Andrews and University College London.