These bachelor’s degrees pay the most (and the least) in Canada

A Statistics Canada study puts engineering degrees at the top and arts and humanities at the bottom of the graduate pay scale


Earning a bachelor’s degree can pay – depending on your field.

Higher education leads to good income, and graduates of some degrees fare better than others.

A new study by Statistics Canada shows which bachelor’s degrees pay the most and least.

Engineering degrees top the list. Arts and humanities take the bottom.

The study – called Which Bachelor’s Degree Programs Were Associated with the Highest Pay Prior to the COVID-19 Pandemic? A Focus on Very Detailed Fields of Study – was published on August 24.

It focuses on bachelor’s degree graduates from universities and colleges between 2010 and 2012, and incomes after five years.

“Most top-earning graduates came from various engineering specialties,” Marc Frenette and Tomasz Handler wrote.

They noted that six of the top 10 disciplines among men, and seven of the top 10 disciplines among women consisted of various types of engineering specialties.

Mining and mineral engineering graduates ranked first among men with a median income of $111,533.

Following among men for the top five are pharmacy, pharmaceutical sciences and administration; petroleum engineering; nuclear engineering; and chemical engineering.

Among women, graduates in mining and mineral engineering came second with $89,680.

Chemical engineering also ranked high.

Among men, graduates in chemical engineering came fifth, with $89,637.

Female graduates of chemical engineering came third among women with $82,193.

“In total, there were 23 different types of engineering disciplines among men, all of which appeared in the top 44 of the 118 disciplines,” the authors noted.

Pharmacy, pharmaceutical sciences and administration also pay well.

“For example, male and female pharmacy, pharmaceutical sciences and administration graduates registered the second highest median earnings among men with $106,055, and the highest median earnings among women with $94,177,” the Statistics Canada study stated.

Among women, following graduates of pharmacy, pharmaceutical sciences and administration graduates in terms of the highest median earnings were those with degrees in mining and mineral engineering; chemical engineering; mechanical engineering; and industrial engineering.

Bachelor’s degrees that pay lowest

The authors noted that “most of the disciplines associated with the lowest median earnings were in arts or humanities.”

According to Frenette and Handler, eight of the bottom 10 fields among men and women were in arts or humanities.

“The lowest-paying field among male graduates was Drama/theatre arts and stagecraft ($35,935), while for women, it was bilingual, multilingual and multicultural education ($19,892),” the authors noted.

Moreover, music graduates earned the third least for men ($38,462) and second least for women ($22,174).

“In the vast majority of cases, the median earnings of arts and humanities graduates were well below than the median earnings of all bachelor’s degree graduates for both men and women,” the authors wrote.

The study excluded programs not offered as a first degree after high school like law, medicine, and dentistry.

This story originally appeared in the Georgia Straight.

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