Studying for Success

Which university courses give you the best chance of financial success after graduating?

With exam season in full flow and University graduation ceremonies just around the corner, students up and down the country are rightly considering what subjects and industries they want to commit their futures to.

But which degrees are the most likely to land you a job after graduation and which are key to unlocking high paying salaries for a long and prosperous career?

The data team here at Satsuma have crunched official UK Government numbers to answer those very questions.

Which degrees give me the best chance of getting a job?

With 97.5% entering into further study or sustained employment within the first year of leaving university, graduates in the field of Medicine and Dentistry are the most likely to be in full time work or education after completing their course.

Closely following behind in second place is the subject of Nursing, with 95.2% of graduates either entering the workplace or staying on for extra study within one year of completing their course.

Third and fourth place are occupied by the degrees of Veterinary Science and Education and Teaching with 93.6% and 91.7% of graduates finding full time employment or further study one year after graduating respectively.

Health and social care graduates are the fifth most likely to be in full time work or education, with 91.3% of graduates finding further studying opportunities or sustained employment one year after leaving university.

Which degrees are the least likely to result in permanent employment?

According to the data, those graduating with degrees in Languages, Linguistics and Classics are the least likely to find sustained employment or further educational opportunities with just 79.8% being in full time work or study one year after graduating.

Degrees in Philosophy or Religious studies are the least likely to result in first year employment opportunities, with just 82.4% of graduates in full time work or study, followed by Politics degrees in third (82.7%) and Humanities and liberal arts and Media and Communications degrees in joint fourth (83.2%).

To view the full list of degrees and their employment opportunities one, three, five and 10 years after graduation please use the interactive table below:

Click the (+) icons in each row to expand the visible dataset

% of post graduates in further study, sustained employment or both (tax year 2016/17)
University degree
1 year
after graduation
3 years
after graduation
5 years
after graduation
10 years
after graduation
Agriculture & Related Subjects 85.5% 86.9% 83.7% 83%
Architecture, Building & Planning 87.7% 87.7% 85.7% 82.9%
Biological Sciences (excluding Psychology) 88% 87.4% 85.8% 82.7%
Business & Administrative Studies 84.8% 84.3% 83% 81.6%
Combined & general studies 83.9% 81.6% 80.4% 76.1%
Communications & media 83.2% 84.8% 83.8% 84.1%
Computer Science 84.1% 84.4% 83.2% 81.9%
Creative Arts & Design 83.4% 84% 83.5% 81.7%
Economics 86.5% 84.1% 83.5% 80%
Education & teaching 91.7% 89.4% 88.2% 85.6%
Engineering 88.3% 86.2% 85.6% 81.4%
English Studies 85.2% 85.2% 84.8% 82.8%
History 85.8% 85.5% 85.4% 83.3%
Languages, linguistics & classics 79.8% 79.7% 79.6% 75.8%
Law 85.4% 85.3% 84.3% 81.9%
Mathematical Sciences 88.7% 87.8% 85.6% 82%
Medicine & Dentistry 97.5% 90.1% 90% 85%
Nursing 95.2% 93.1% 91.4% 89.1%
Physical, material & forensic sciences 87.5% 85.5% 84% 81.7%
Psychology 88.2% 87.4% 86.6% 84.4%
Sociology, social policy & anthropology 85.9% 86.2% 84.9% 83.4%
Subjects allied to medicine not otherwise specified 91.3% 88.8% 87.4% 84.7%
Veterinary Science 93.6% 89.8% 88.5% 85.1%
Geographical & Environmental studies 87.9% 87.9% 86.9% 84.1%
Health & social care 91.1% 89.8% 88.2% 85.7%
Humanities & liberal arts (non-specific) 83.2% 77.1% 79.6% 71.1%
Pharmacology, toxicology & pharmacy 87.1% 89.2% 86.6% 84.7%
Philosophy & religious studies 82.4% 82.1% 83.1% 80.2%
Physics & astronomy 87.7% 88.1% 84.3% 80.7%
Politics 82.7% 81.2% 81.3% 80.7%
Sport and exercise sciences 89.5% 88.2% 87.7% 87.3%
Technology 83.9% 83.6% 82% 80.3%
Celtic studies 85.7% 82.8% 78.1% 90.4%
Chemistry 89.7% 88.7% 86.1% 82.4%

Which degrees pay the most in the first year of employment?

Starting out with the average salaries one year after graduating and Medicine and Dentistry graduates are once again top of the pile, earning a very tidy £36,600 per annum.

Second on the list of top paying degrees is Veterinary Science with an average first year salary of £28,000.

Completing the top five of the highest paying degrees are the subjects of Engineering and Economics, with graduates earning an average of £26,500 and £26,000 in their first year of employment respectively; followed by Nursing in fifth with a first-year salary of £25,800.

Which degrees pay the least in the first year of employment?

It’s bad news for those graduating in Creative Arts and Design – one year after leaving University the average wage stands at an incredibly low £14,900 – that’s nearly 5% LESS than the current National Living Wage.

The second lowest paying degree is Sport and Exercise Sciences, with graduates from this discipline earning an average of £15,800 in their first year.

Completing the top five are the degrees of Communications and Media, English Studies and Psychology, paying £16,500, £16,800 and £17,100 respectively.

Which degrees have the highest growth in wages over a ten-year period?

For many, job satisfaction and quality of life are far more important than high earnings.

Additionally, just because a degree typically pays out low first year wages doesn’t mean graduates from that discipline are condemned to a lifetime of low earnings.

And the subject of Sports and Exercise Sciences is testament to that.

While being one of the lowest paying graduate degrees (in the first year of work), it has the highest growth rate of graduate earnings, at a staggering 93.67% increase in wages over a ten-year period.

The tenth-year average graduate salary of £30,600 is well above the UK average of £27,600* and goes to show that low pay in the first year doesn’t always result in lifetime low pay.

Closely following in second is the subject of Law, with graduates increasing their pay from a starting salary of £17,200 to £33,600 (an increase of 95.35% in ten years), with third placed Economics being the last of the degrees that witness a 90 plus percentage growth rate in pay over a ten-year period (91.54% growth rate in wages).

Fourth and fifth place are occupied by the subjects of Technology and Politics, with graduates increasing their pay over a ten-year period by an average of 74.03% and 71.78% respectively.

Which degrees have the lowest growth in wages over a ten-year period?

Supporting the argument that first year wages don’t really matter, it is surprisingly the subject of Veterinary Science that has the lowest rise in graduate pay over a ten-year period, at just 11.43%.

With a decrease in graduate earnings of 13.33% YOY (for the tenth year of employment), the data reveals that Veterinary Science graduates in fact earn LESS in their tenth year of employment than in their third (£31,400) and fifth (£32,500) respectively.

Number two on the list of degrees that have lowest growing graduate wages is the subject of Nursing, with graduates increasing their first-year salary by just 16.67% over a ten-year period to £30,100.

Positions three and four are occupied by the subjects of Combined and General studies and Humanities and Liberal Arts. With respective growth rates in graduate pay of just 22.05% and 28.09% in a ten-year period, both subjects result in graduate wages below the UK national average of £27,600 at £25,500 and £22,800 respectively.

Fifth place on the list is occupied by subjects relating to Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmacy, with graduate pay increasing by 30.58% over a ten-year period.

Which degrees pay the most and least over a ten-year period?

There has been a concerted effort by recent governments to push students into STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math’s) given the ongoing concerns over a skills supply shortage.

And in keeping with the basic economic laws of supply and demand, seven of the top ten paying degrees (ten years after graduation) are all STEM subjects.

View the full interactive table below to see where your degree places you:

Click the (+) icons in each row to expand the visible dataset

Salary (£) per year after graduating YoY % increase in earnings from 2015/16 tax year
University Degree
Salary (£) per year after graduating
1 yr
3 yrs
5 yrs
10 yrs
YoY % increase in earnings from 2015/16 tax year
1 yr
3 yrs
5 yrs
10 yrs
Salary growth (%) from 1-10 years
Agriculture & Related Subjects
17,300 19,500 21,700 25,100 4.85% 2.09% 5.85% 3.29% 45.09%
Architecture, Building & Planning 24,200 30,200 32,100 37,000 4.31% 5.59% 3.88% 1.09% 52.89%
Biological Sciences (excluding Psychology) 18,100 21,900 25,500 30,900 11.73% 3.79% 4.08% 0.65% 70.72%
Business & Administrative Studies 20,500 24,300 27,200 32,400 5.67% 3.85% 1.49% 0.62% 58.05%
Combined and general studies 20,400 22,100 24,000 25,000 4.08% 0.91% -0.83% -2.34% 22.55%
Communications and media 16,500 20,300 23,200 26,600 3.77% 3.05% 1.75% -2.56% 61.21%
Computer Science 22,400 25,900 28,600 34,100 6.16% 2.78% 2.88% -0.29% 52.23%
Creative Arts & Design 14,900 18,500 20,500 23,300 4.20% 3.93% 1.49% 0.43% 56.38%
Economics 26,000 32,000 40,200 49,800 6.12% 1.59% 6.07% 3.75% 91.54%
Education and teaching 19,600 22,000 23,300 26,200 7.10% 1.85% -1.69% -4.73% 33.67%
Engineering 26,500 30,800 34,300 41,200 5.58% 4.41% 5.21% 3.00% 55.47%
English Studies 16,800 21,500 24,100 27,900 3.07% 0.47% 0.42% 0.00% 66.07%
History 17,900 22,800 25,900 30,700 2.87% 2.70% 1.97% 4.78% 71.51%
Languages, linguistics and classics 19,700 24,300 27,500 31,800 2.07% 0.83% 0.36% 2.58% 61.42%
Law 17,700 22,400 25,600 34,000 2.91% 4.19% 1.59% 1.19% 92.09%
Mathematical Sciences 24,000 28,300 33,900 40,400 6.67% 1.07% 2.42% 0.25% 68.33%
Medicine & Dentistry 36,600 43,000 47,100 53,300 1.67% 0.47% -0.42% -3.27% 45.63%
Nursing 25,800 26,900 28,300 30,100 1.18% -1.10% -0.70% -0.66% 16.67%
Physical, material and forensic sciences 18,400 22,500 25,000 30,000 -6.12% -5.46% -7.75% -8.54% 63.04%
Psychology 17,100 20,700 23,200 26,600 4.91% 2.99% 2.65% -0.37% 55.56%
Sociology, social policy and anthropology 17,100 21,000 23,200 26,400 -5.00% -3.67% -5.31% -8.65% 54.39%
Subjects allied to medicine not otherwise specified 21,300 24,100 26,000 28,500 1.43% -1.23% -1.52% -3.72% 33.80%
Veterinary Science 28,000 31,400 32,500 31,200 -1.06% -3.09% -6.88% -13.33% 11.43%
Geographical & Environmental studies 19,800 24,600 27,600 32,700 NA NA NA NA 65.15%
Health & social care 20,100 21,700 22,700 27,100 NA NA NA NA 34.83%
Humanities & liberal arts (non-specific) 17,800 19,100 21,800 22,800 NA NA NA NA 28.09%
Pharmacology, toxicology & pharmacy 24,200 29,700 33,700 31,600 NA NA NA NA 30.58%
Philosophy & religious studies 18,200 23,300 26,500 30,000 NA NA NA NA 64.84%
Physics & astronomy 24,400 29,800 32,900 39,200 NA NA NA NA 60.66%
Politics 20,200 25,300 29,000 34,700 NA NA NA NA 71.78%
Sport and exercise sciences 15,800 21,100 24,100 30,600 NA NA NA NA 93.67%
Technology 18,100 22,400 25,200 31,500 NA NA NA NA 74.03%
Celtic studies N/A 15,900 26,000 30,600 NA NA NA NA NA
Chemistry 21,000 25,200 29,100 35,000 NA NA NA NA 66.67%

What percentage of degrees pay less than the UK average salary?

It is often claimed that graduates (as a whole) earn or go on to earn more than those who don’t go to University and receive a degree. But for how many degrees is this case and how long does it take for graduates to surpass the average UK salary of £27,600?

We’ve crunched the numbers below to reveal all:

Year One Earnings:

Average Graduate Salary: £19,900. That means you are paid 72% of the UK average salary of £27,600.

Percentage of degrees paying below the average UK salary: 93.93%

Year Three Earnings:

Average Graduate Salary: £23,300. That means you are paid 84% of the UK average salary of £27,600.

Percentage of degrees paying below the average UK salary: 76.47%

Year Five Earnings:

Average Graduate Salary: £26,000. That means you are paid 94% of the UK average salary of £27,600.

Percentage of degrees paying below the average UK salary: 55.88%

Year Ten Earnings:

Average Graduate Salary: £30,500. That means you are paid 111% of the UK average salary of £27,600.

Percentage of degrees paying below the average UK salary: 26.47%

Will my place of birth affect my employability and future earnings potential?

Based upon further study and/or sustained employment, graduates born in the East Midlands are the most likely to find work immediately after graduation with 89.1% either in full time employment or further study within the first year.

Graduates from the West Midlands closely follow in second place, with 88.7% either in fulltime employment or further study with the first year of leaving university, followed by Yorkshire and the Humber in third (88.6%) and the East of England in fourth (88.3%).

Graduates born in London are the least likely to find immediate employment or further study in the first year at just 84.6%. This is still the case 10 years after graduation with even less (80.5% of graduates born in London) being in either full time employment or further study.

View the full interactive table below:

Click the (+) icons in each row to expand the visible dataset

% of post graduates in further study, sustained employment or both (tax year 2016/17)
Home region
1 year
after graduation
3 years
after graduation
5 years
after graduation
10 years
after graduation
East Midlands 89.1 87.9 86.9 85.2
East of England 88.3 87.6 86.7 84.4
London 84.6 84 83.2 80.5
North East 87.9 87.6 86.7 85.3
North West 87.5 86.9 86.3 85.1
Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland 86.5 83.6 83.9 81.5
South East 87.4 87.2 86.2 82.9
South West 87.9 87.6 86.7 84.3
West Midlands 88.7 87.6 87.6 85.2
Yorkshire and the Humber 88.6 87.6 86.8 85.7

While Londoners may have the most difficulties in finding employment, they do end up earning the most (overall) by the tenth year, with an average graduate salary of £35,100.

Graduates from the South East follow in second position, earning £34,400 ten years after graduating, followed those from the East of England in third (£33,500) and graduates from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland in fourth (£31,800).

North East, irrespective of what degree they studied, their grade and which academic institution they studied at, on average earn the least both in the first year of employment and the tenth, earning £17,700 and £28,400 respectively.

While the tenth year of employment is above the current UK national average salary, it is rather alarming the clear lack of social mobility that sees like for like graduates from London earn 24% more.

View the full breakdown of graduate earnings by home region in the interactive table below:

Click the (+) icons in each row to expand the visible dataset

Salary (£) per year after graduating YoY % increase in earnings from 2015/16 tax year
Home region
Salary (£) per year after graduating
1 yr
3 yrs
5 yrs
10 yrs
YoY % increase in earnings from 2015/16 tax year
1 yr
3 yrs
5 yrs
10 yrs
Salary growth (%) from 1-10 years
East Midlands 19100 22600 25100 30400 6.11% 3.67% 0.40% 1.00% 59.16%
East of England 20200 24500 27900 33500 5.76% 2.08% 0.72% -0.59% 65.84%
London 20600 25400 29000 35100 5.64% 2.42% 1.75% -1.40% 70.39%
North East 17700 21100 23300 28400 4.73% 3.94% -0.85% -2.74% 60.45%
North West 18200 21700 24400 29300 5.81% 2.36% 1.24% -1.01% 60.99%
Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland 19300 23000 26400 31800 3.21% 3.60% 0.76% -0.93% 64.77%
South East 20900 25200 28900 34400 5.03% 2.44% 2.12% -0.29% 64.59%
South West 19500 23300 26300 30500 4.84% 1.75% 1.94% 0.00% 56.41%
West Midlands 18800 22500 25400 30200 6.21% 3.69% 2.01% 0.00% 60.64%
Yorkshire and the Humber 18300 21700 24400 29100 5.78% 2.36% 1.24% -1.69% 59.02%

University degree and graduate earnings data sourced from the official UK Government Graduate Outcomes LEO statistics dataset 2016/2017. Data was collected and analysed by the data team at Satsuma who calculated trends (in percentages) and combined both available graduate cohorts into one singular database.

*Data is based on current 10-year salaries as a reference base.