The pursuit of a higher degree is generally considered a major investment. Each year, students enroll in MS programs all over the world to get the best in education. And each year, USA leads in the international admission of fresh college graduates from India – the ritual-like biannual fall and spring migration of bright eyed, slightly nervous younglings to the land of opportunities.
With nearly 5000 Universities in the US (Read Guide to an MS degree), there’s a lot of room to choose the best suited program catering to the needs of every individual student. USA’s leading torch is followed by Canada and Australia, with UK’s strict immigration making it fall behind in laying out the welcome mat for international students.
As of 2016, there are over 166,000 Indian students in USA, nearly 45,000 in Canada and over 36,000 in Australia. (Read Popular Study Destination Countries)
With an MS costing more than $70,000 (INR > Rs 4,00,000) (Read Cost of MS in US), you may quite obviously wish to know the return of such an investment. We are assuming that the motivation, to pursue an MS, is for the most part in obtaining a job with satisfactory compensation, the other being the love of the subject itself. With the three major higher education destinations, spanning two continents – USA, Canada and Australia, we have listed the most commonly studied fields along with the average salaries.
Consider this the next best thing to actually looking into your possible future. Well, you are already here reading a crystal ball article anyway!
Here are the details of each country with popular fields and average salaries based on current studies.
The number of public and private institutions for higher education pales in comparison to the US. There are less than 150 but nearly 25% of them are considered to be among the top ranked universities in the world, with six of them among the top 100, as per QS University Rankings. (Source: Top Universities)
Australian National University, University of Melbourne, University of Sydney, University of New South Wales, University of Queensland and Monash University are some of the prestigious ones in Australia.
The distribution of international students varies between fields, with the largest number pursuing Business and Management degrees. Here is a list of fields in order of popularity, from the land down under (Source: IIE.org).
|Subject||Number of International Students|
|Business and Management||131,831|
|Mathematics and Computer Sciences||23,724|
The popularity of STEM fields is mainly owed to to its job prospects and higher potential salaries. Based on surveys conducted by compensation data resource website, PayScale.com, we have listed here a few starting salaries in accordance with the above popular fields of study.
|Job Description||Average Salary|
|Human Resource||AU$51,000 to AU$90,000 / Entry Level|
|Business Manager||AU$65,000 / Entry Level|
|Marketing Manager||AU$63,000 / Entry Level|
|Professional, Scientific and Technical Services||AU$92,482
|Health Care and Social Assistance||AU$84,183|
|Humanities and Social Sciences||~AU$50,000
Though Grad Stats 2015 surveyed data among Bachelor graduates in the respective fields, it is clear that Humanities and Social Sciences graduates are most likely to get the least in returns for their investments on advanced degrees.
That being said, Australia ranks fifth in countries with highest average income. With an exchange rate roughly hovering around Rs 50 for every AU dollar, it is quite a handsome compensation for Indians.
According to the data on IIE.org, Canada does not have any private higher education institutes and the total number of public ones are about 250. Twenty six of those are ranked among the best in the world, according to Times Higher Education’s World University Rankings 2016-17. Some of the best ones being University of Toronto, University of British Columbia, McGill University, University of Montreal, University of Alberta and McMaster University, to name a few. Following the same recipe as in with Australia, here’s a list of most popular degrees in Canada (StatCan.gc.ca).
|International (Total number being 88,000)||Canada|
|Business, Management and Public Administration||23.2||16.5|
|Architecture, Engineering and Related Technologies||14.4||7.7|
|Social and Behavioral Sciences, and Law||13.1||17.5|
|Physical and Life Sciences, and Technologies||8.3||8.5|
|Mathematics, Computer and Information Sciences||6.9||2.6|
|Health, Parks, Recreation and Fitness||4.9||11.2|
These numbers represent overall enrollment of international students and not particularly exclusively for MS students. However it was estimated, according to the studies done by the Post Secondary Student Information System (PSIS), that there were 18% of International students enrolled in Masters programs which also accounted for about 13% of all Masters students in Canada.
Here is some information of average salaries, obtained mostly from Payscale.com.
|Job Description||Average Salary|
|Human Resource||C$52,000 / Entry Level|
|C$44,000 to C$62,000
|Production Manager, Manufacturing||C$60,000|
Mental Health Therapist
|C$51,000 to C$81,000 / Entry to > 20 years
|C$57,000/ > 1 year
C$90,000/ >10 years
|Software Engineer||C$50,000 to C$95,000|
|Teacher||C$50,000 / Entry Level
With C$58,500 in Alberta
With about Rs 51 to one Canadian dollar, the average salaries are somewhat less than Australia’s. However, according to the cost of living rankings on Numbeo.com, Australia ranks more than ten points higher than Canada (Australia at 79.73 vs Canada at 69.09) in living expenditures. Essentially what this means is if New York’s cost of living was considered to be a 100, then Australia is cheaper by 20% while Canada is cheaper by 30.
And so we finally reach the most popular destination of all students everywhere – The United States of America. We are very much aware of all the wonderfully well known universities in the US – home to nearly 70% of the top 25 universities in the world (Read Ivy League Universities Rankings and Admissions and Best Universities for Placement in USA).
It is unparalleled in higher education resources and facilities, aided with the best in faculty. So clearly it is the most sought after for students pursuing a higher degree. It is also one of the most friendly countries to immigrate to, to study and subsequently earn a living in the all mighty US dollars, which last heard, was placed at Rs 68 to one USD. So let’s rinse and repeat the census.
Here’s some numbers reflecting the number of international students by field of study, in the US. (Source IIE.org)
|Subject||Number of International Students|
|Business and Management||200,312|
|Mathematics and Computer Sciences||141,651|
|Physical and Life Sciences||75,385|
|Fine and Applied Arts||59,736|
Not surprisingly, the numbers are led by management students. However STEM fields are in close competition with Social Sciences. Unfortunately, though, the field of Social Sciences doesn’t fall in the toppers list of highest salaries in the US (Read MS Degrees that pay the highest Salary). As promised, we will lay out a glimpse of what most of the masses are amassing at the end of every year, after having an advanced degree in some of the above mentioned subject matter. So get your calculators oiled up and ready to see what you could be expecting to get paid in a few years, which if all else falls in place, will be the logical conclusion to your travel overseas to obtain a higher degree. The salary data, for 2016, has been obtained from surveys conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NCAE).
So here we go.
|Job Description||Average Salary (Starting)|
|Mathematics and Sciences||$67,891|
Clearly business is the reigning king in the US, after an MS, but the STEM fields and Computer Science manage a a pretty dramatic overthrow once done with a Doctorate degree with average salaries about $100,000 as compared to the miniscule movement to $75,000 for Business Doctorates.
In the end, an advanced degree does bring about some decent returns, in most cases. But there is still a great deal of research that you should absolutely put in before you decide your field, your degree, which country and definitely which university to get it from. The numbers above are mere guide to your eyes and your reality will ultimately depend on many factors which may not have anything to do with the surveyed employees the data was collected from. The economy and job opportunities being the ones most out of your control. You can, however, attempt to reduce the uncertainties in the others by starting somewhere like here, this big crystal ball of relevant information, and use your resources to build on your very own data reserve.
Good luck mate!
Read these related articles:
– Guide to MS degree programs
– Masters in foreign universities versus studying in India
– Average cost of studying abroad: Masters in Europe vs America comparison