What is the ROI of your college degree?

Undergraduate tuition, possible graduate degrees, and room and board all add up — especially for students taking out loans. But which degree and which jobs really pay off? See how long it would take students to pay off their student loans if they chose careers based on their degrees.

What is the return on investment of your college degree?

Occupation Minimum required years in college, graduate school and professional programs Cost of degree (tuition, fees, room, board) After-tax pay (2014) Monthly repayment (if 15% of pay goes to school loans) Years needed to repay education investment1
Advertising, marketing, promotions, public relations specialist 4 $52,596 $74,935 $937 5.3
Economist 4 $52,596 $62,786 $785 6.5
Civil engineer 4 $52,596 $56,286 $704 7.4
Political scientist 6 $68,010 $68,828 $860 7.9
Microbiologist 4 $52,596 $46,504 $581 9.3
Accountant 4 $52,596 $45,235 $565 9.7
Pharmacist 7 $92,421 $79,343 $992 9.7
Physician — family/general practicioner 8 $136,861 $113,443 $1,418 10.2
Market research analyst 4 $52,596 $42,045 $526 10.6
Political science teacher, post-secondary 6 $68,010 $50,620 $633 11.7
Dentist 8 $139,298 $101,444 $1,268 12
Lawyer 7 $103,677 $75,420 $943 12
Public relations specialist 4 $52,596 $38,196 $477 12.1
English language/literature teacher, post-secondary 6 $68,010 $41,270 $516 15.5
Zoologist, wildlife biologist 6 $68,010 $39,973 $500 16.3
Librarian 6 $68,010 $38,533 $482 17.2
Teacher (full time) 4 $52,596 $28,394 $355 18.5
Veterinarian 8 $114,268 $60,087 $751 19.3
News analyst, reporter, correspondent 4 $52,596 $25,519 $319 22
Marriage and family therapist 6 $68,010 $32,955 $412 22.1

Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics, National Center for Education Statistics, Tax Foundation

1Assuming 4.66 percent student loan interest, which matches the direct, unsubsidized federal loan from 2014.

We used the most recent education cost data from the National Center for Education Statistics and occupational data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Costs for undergraduate degrees are based on the tuition, fees, and room and board of a four-year, in-state, public school with no scholarships. Graduate degree costs are based on NCES data regarding tuition and fees for the specific area of study. Calculations were figured using an average loan interest payment of 6 percent. These numbers will vary based on the individual and are to be used solely as an informational tool.

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