University education is one of the most valuable investments a person can make in their life. Indeed, receiving a university degree will increase your monthly income by more than 100-200 per cent compared to only graduating from high school. But the subject you are learning may also have a significant effect on this calculus. That is because different research concentrations have different starting salaries and work rates.
We have compared the tuition of the different university majors to their respective job information and stats to estimate a measure of return on investment for each major to determine which majors are the most “cost-effective”.
Based on our estimate, we find that undergraduate programmes related to computing, engineering ( civil or electrical and electronic engineering), architecture, pharmacy and law appeared to have the highest level of return on investment immediately upon graduation on their tuitions. A bachelor’s degree in law particularly stood out as having the 2nd highest median gross monthly salary and the 5th highest full-time employment rate. Although both architecture and law require additional training after graduation, once they started working full-time, both programmes yielded good results for their graduates.
Also noteworthy is that a bachelor’s degree in computing and computer engineering took all of the top 3 places in terms of tuition return. Bachelor of arts degree and a bachelor of business administration degree with honours also had an above-average return on investment.
On the other end of the spectrum, we found that bachelor’s degrees in arts, science, music, dental and medicine tended to have the lowest return on investment on tuition, adjusted for job rates. Specifically, music degree holders made only S$3,250 of gross median income per month, with an 86 per cent part-time employment rate, despite having to pay S$110,000 of annual tuition.
On the other hand, due to their too-high tuition of about S$27,400 per year, medicine, surgery and dental surgery degrees tended to have low ROIs even though they had 100 per cent full-time employment rate and S$4,000-S$5,000 of median gross monthly salary. However, this figure may under-represent the true economics of a medical degree given the stability of their income stream over the long run.
Another interesting finding in this data set was that earning an honours degree appears to have a real impact on a person’s earning ability, both in terms of average salary and employment rate. We found on average that honours degree increases the employee-adjusted salary of a person by 27 per cent compared to a moderate degree of the same major. This was particularly true for both the bachelor’s degree in arts and the bachelor’s degree in business administration, whose median wage itself increased by about 20 per cent and the employment rate increased by 12 per cent to get an honours degree. The impact of a bachelor’s degree in nursing was the lowest.