College Graduate Salaries in the U.S

The year 2020 brought so many changes that affected every sector of the economy in one way or another; salaries were not an exception. Some college graduates lost their jobs while others started working for less than the average college graduate’s salary. However, 2021 has come with hope for college graduates. At the same time, some college graduates like those who majored in computer sciences are experiencing an increase in their average annual salaries. Other graduates who majored in different fields are lagging in this aspect. The amount you receive as a salary depends on your major. 

This article discusses the average college graduate’s salaries in 2021.

What Is the Average Salary for College Graduates?

College graduates earn an average hourly salary of $21 in the United States. This amount sums up to form an average annual college graduate salary of $50,000 in 2021. College graduates earned an average yearly wage of $53,889 in 2020.

Starting Salary Average for College Graduates

The starting average salary for college graduates is $50,000. This is based on a salary survey that NACE made in recent times.  However, note that the average salary differs depending on the state and job field of the college graduate.

Highest-paying Bachelor’s Degree Majors

Getting a bachelors’ degree is an excellent achievement. However, be mindful that the pay packages are not the same for all majors. While some majors offer incredibly juicy salaries, others may offer up to $11,000 less. The disparity in their average annual wages often lies in demand for professionals who majored in that area. For example, more demand for computer science graduates in 2020 than for graduates who majored in Humanities. Here is a list of the highest-paying bachelor’s degree majors and their wages in 2021.

Computer science graduates can earn up to $72,173.

It is a 7.1% increase from their 2020 salary, which was $67,411.

College graduates who majored in engineering may earn $71,088 on average in 2021. 

Engineering graduates were earning an average of $67,961 the previous year.  They will get over a 1.6% increase in their average annual salaries, which equals $3127. 

Math and Sciences graduates had an average annual salary of $62,177 in 2020.

Experts predict that their average annual salaries will increase to $63,316 in 2021.

Experts predict that Social sciences graduates will have an average annual salary of $59,919 in 2021.

However, they are currently earning 57,310.

Business majors are earning an annual average salary of $57,657 in 2021. 
Humanities majors are earning an average annual salary of $56,651 in 2021.

Experts initially predicted the amount to increase to $59,500, an 11% increase in the average annual salary. 

The average salary after college for Agriculture majors is $55,750 in 2021. 
Graduates who majored in Communications are earning an average annual salary of $52,056.

Lowest-Paying Bachelor’s Degree Majors

The lowest paying majors are good fields to study in college. However, they offer a low average income after college. Following a Georgetown University report showing the list of majors that provide the lowest average annual salaries for graduates, here is what you should know. These values are the average of a range of values that participants in their survey provided. Therefore, you may earn more or less than the average annual salary on this list. 

  1. Drama and theater arts graduates have annual average salaries of $44,538 in 2021. 
  2. Graduates who majored in Fine arts receive an average annual salary of $48,686.
  3. Graduates with a bachelor’s degree in Music earn an average annual salary of $48,686.
  4. Studio arts graduates earn an average salary of $41,762 after college. 
  5. Visual and performing arts graduates earn $42,465 in 2021. 
  6. The starting salary average out of college for Neuroscience graduates is $48,190.
  7. Art and music education graduates earn $45,623. 
  8. Early childhood graduates also have a low average annual salary. They earn $39,097 on average yearly. 

Average Salary College of a Graduate After Ten Years

College graduate salaries vary depending on many factors. The average income of a college graduate from any of the top schools in the U.S often surpasses the average salary after ten years. 

Additionally, college graduates who majored in fields with the highest annual salaries are most likely the same people to have high wages after ten years. Here is a list of the best average college salaries after ten years and the schools they attended. 

  1. Graduates from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) earn an average salary of $91,600 10 years later. 
  2. Harvard University graduates earn an average salary of $82,000 10 years from their graduation day. 
  3. The median college graduate salary after ten years for Georgetown university graduates after ten years is $83,300. 
  4. Stanford University graduates earn $80,900 on average over ten years since graduation. Stanford is the 4th best college in the U.S. 
  5. The University of Pennsylvania is the 7th best college in the U.S, and graduates earn an average salary of $78,200 10 years later. 
  6. Graduates from Washington and Lee university earn an average salary of $77,600 10 years after graduation. 
  7. Duke University alumni earn an average salary of $76,700 a decade after graduating from the prestigious school. 
  8. Princeton University is the best school in the U.S. Its alumni earn an average salary of $75,100 10 years after graduating. 
  9. Columbia University graduates earn an average salary of $72,900 10 years after graduation. 
  10. Graduates from Cornell University earn an average salary of $70,900 10 years after graduation. 

What Is a Good Starting Salary for a Graduate?

A good starting salary for a graduate is just around the national college grad average salary. The national starting salary average is $50,000 in 2021. However, some majors offer better starting salaries for graduates of up to $70,000 while others provide about $39,000. The starting salary is good as long as it is not far below the national average. 

Is Graduation Worth It?

Yes, it is. It increases your chances of getting a satisfying job that meets your needs and wants. Furthermore, the average female bachelor’s degree holder earns nearly $630,000 compared to the average person with a high school diploma. 

The average male college graduate with a bachelor’s degree earns $900,000 more than the average earnings of a high school graduate throughout their lifetime. 


Helen Vlasova
Helen is the co-founder of, a career guidance website for students and young professionals. She has a degree in English from the University of Michigan. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends, reading, and traveling.

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