This debt-to-salary tool draws information from two national databases to display median debt and salary figures based on your selections of degree-level, field of study, and occupational area. The two national databases are: the National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS), which is administered by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), and the National Survey of College Graduates (NSCG), administered by the National Science Foundation (NSF).


    For this iteration of the tool, CGS employed the 2011-12 version of NPSAS (NPSAS:12) and 2009-10 version of NSCG (NSCG:10), the most current data available. NPSAS:12 data were retrieved from NCES’s PowerStats, a publicly available online portal that allows researchers to build custom data tables. CGS made custom data requests to the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics, NSF, to retrieve NSCG:10 data.


    NOTE: Please consider that factors influencing your actual salary may depend upon a variety of factors including but not limited to: labor market conditions by sector and geographical region, your skills and prior work experience, and the reputation of your institution and program. Users of this tool are encouraged to inquire about the availability of recent information about debt and/or salaries for recent graduates, as well as their career pathways for the institution and/or program you are attending or considering.


    What do the numbers mean?


    Debt figures


    This tool displays median cumulative debt amounts of students who completed their degree programs in the academic year 2011-12 and borrowed toward their education.


    Debt figures are displayed by degree type and field of study, to which NPSAS respondents completed during academic year 2011-12.

    • Debt figures are cumulative by education-levels (i.e., undergraduate or graduate education); therefore, some respondents might have reported total debt amounts for multiple degree programs (e.g., cumulative debt for Master’s and doctorate degrees or cumulative debt for Associate’s and Bachelor’s degree) or debt incurred at multiple institutions (i.e., students who transferred to different programs/institutions). 
    • In order to maintain statistical integrity, CGS followed NCES PowerStats’ reporting standard. Some cases[1] were suppressed automatically by PowerStats, and cases with the standard error representing more than 30 percent of the estimate are displayed with a caution message.


    Salary figures


    This tool displays 10th percentile, median, and 90th percentile annual salaries for a principal job of persons who are working as of October 1, 2010 and hold a Bachelor's degree or above as their highest degree.

    Salary figures are displayed by highest degree-level and occupational area as of October 1, 2010 and adjusted to 2012US$ by CGS, using consumer price index, and include both full-time and part-time employees. Also, these salary figures are based on a whole year or less.

    Educational background beyond highest degree types and fields of study, as well as workforce experience and socioeconomic background of NSCG respondents are not controlled in salary figures displayed in this tool. Therefore, the designation of “Low” and “High” salaries only reflect salary amounts. Also, the salary figures may be skewed due to sampling weights. Users should interpret the displayed salary figures with caution. 

    In order to maintain statistical integrity, CGS suppressed cases[2] with less than ten (10) unweighted counts. Also, for cases with ten (10) to nineteen (19) unweighted counts, as well as cases with twenty (20) to twenty-nine (29) unweighted counts are displayed with caution messages. 




    Degree types


    For the purpose of this tool “Degree types” are defined as follows[3]:


      • Following degree types are included in the category, “Master’s”:
        • Master of Science (MS)
        • Master of Arts (MA)
        • Master of Education or Teaching
        • Master of Business Administration (MBA)
        • Master of Public Admin or Policy
        • Master of Social Work (MSW)
        • Master of Fine Arts (MFA)
        • Master of Public Health (MPH)
        • Other master’s degree program
      • Following degree types are included in the category, “Doctorate”:
        • Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
        • Doctor of Education (EdD)
        • Doctor of Science or Engineering
        • Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)
        • Doctor of Business or Public Admin
        • Doctor of Fine Arts (DFA)
        • Doctor of Theology (ThD)
        • Other Doctoral Degree


      • Following degree types are included in the category, “Professional”:
        • Ministry or Divinity
        • Law (LLB or JD)
        • Medicine or Osteopathic Medicine (MD, DO)
        • Dentistry (DDS, DMD)
        • Chiropractic (DC, DCM)
        • Pharmacy (PharmD)
        • Optometry (OD)
        • Podiatry (DPM, DP, PodD)
        • Veterinary Medicine (DVM)
        • Other professional practice doctoral degree


    Fields of study


    For the purpose of this tool, “Fields of study” are defined as the following thirteen categories:

    • Arts and Humanities
    • Biological and agricultural sciences
    • Business
    • Computer sciences
    • Education
    • Engineering
    • Health and medical sciences
    • Law
    • Mathematics
    • Other fields
    • Physical sciences
    • Religion and theology
    • Social and behavioral sciences


    Because this tool draws debt and salary figures from two different national databases, fine fields of study that constitute these “Fields of study” above have two different definitions.


    • For debt figures in this tool, the following fine fields of study, which derived from the variable, “MAJORS” in NPSAS:12UG and NPSAS:12GR, are included in respective “Fields of study”[4]:
      • Arts & Humanities
        • Foreign languages and literatures
        • English language and literature/letters
        • Liberal arts, sciences and humanities
        • Philosophy and religious studies
        • Visual and performing arts
        • History
      • Biological & agricultural sciences
        • Agricultural and related sciences
        • Natural resources and conservation
        • Biological and biomedical sciences
        • Parks, recreation, and fitness studies
      • Business
        • Business, management, and marketing
      • Computer sciences
        • Computer and information sciences
      • Education
        • Education
      • Engineering
        • Engineering
        • Engineering technologies/technicians
      • Health & medical sciences
        • Health professions and related sciences
      • Law
        • Legal professions
      • Mathematics
        • Mathematics and statistics
      • Other fields
        • Architecture, planning, related services
        • Communication and journalism
        • Communications technologies/technicians
        • Personal and culinary services
        • Family, consumer, and human sciences
        • Library science
        • Military technologies
        • Multi/Interdisciplinary studies
        • Public administration/social services
        • Construction trades
        • Mechanic and repair technologies
        • Transportation and materials moving
      • Physical sciences
        • Physical sciences
        • Science technologies/technicians
      • Religion & theology
        • Theology and religious vocations
      • Social & behavioral sciences
        • Area, ethnic, and gender studies
        • Psychology
        • Security and protective services
        • Anthropology
        • Criminology
        • Economics
        • Geography
        • International relations and affairs
        • Political science and government
        • Sociology
        • Social sciences, other
    • For salary figures in this tool, the following fine fields of study, which derived from the variable, “O_ED_HD_MAJOR_ED_GRP_MINOR_NEW” and “O_ED_HD_MAJOR_ED_CAT_NEW” in NSCG:10, constitute “Fields of study”[5]:
      • Arts & Humanities
        • Art and humanities fields
      • Biological & agricultural sciences
        • Agricultural and food sciences
        • Biological sciences
        • Environmental life sciences
      • Business
        • Management and administration fields
        • Sales and marketing fields
      • Computer sciences
        • Computer and information sciences
      • Education
        • Science and mathematics teacher education
        • Education, except science and math teacher education
      • Engineering
        • Aerospace, aeronautical and astronautical engineering
        • Chemical engineering
        • Civil and architectural engineering
        • Electrical and computer engineering
        • Industrial engineering
        • Mechanical engineering
        • Other engineering
      • Health & medical sciences
        • Health
      • Law
        • Law/Prelaw/Legal Studies[6]
      • Mathematics
        • Mathematics and statistics
      • Other fields
        • Balance of cases
      • Physical sciences
        • Chemistry, except biochemistry
        • Earth, atmospheric and ocean sciences
        • Physics and astronomy
        • Other physical sciences
      • Religion & theology
        • OTHER philosophy, religion, theology[7]
      • Social & behavioral sciences
        • Economics
        • Political and related sciences
        • Psychology
        • Sociology and anthropology


    Occupational areas


    This tool includes the following sixty-five occupational areas, which are derived from the variables, “B_JOB_OCC_GRP_MINOR_NEW2” and “B_JOB_CAT_NEW2” in NSCG:10[8]. The names of occupational areas listed below are in the original name and order appeared in NSCG:10 and in this tool, the occupational areas are listed in alphabetical order and some names have been modified for consistency.

    • Computer and information scientists
    • Mathematical scientists
    • Postsecondary teachers - computer and math sciences
    • Agricultural & food scientists
    • Biological and medical scientists
    • Environmental life scientists
    • Postsecondary teachers - life and related sciences
    • Chemists, except biochemists 
    • Earth scientists, geologists and oceanographers
    • Physicists and astronomers
    • Other physical & related scientists 
    • Postsecondary teachers - physical and related sciences
    • Economists 
    • Political scientists
    • Psychologists
    • Sociologists and anthropologists
    • Other social and related scientists
    • Postsecondary teachers - social and related sciences
    • Aerospace, aeronautical or astronautical engineers
    • Chemical engineers 
    • Civil, architectural or sanitary engineers
    • Electrical or computer hardware engineers
    • Industrial engineers
    • Mechanical engineers
    • Other engineers
    • Postsecondary teachers – engineering
    • Health-related occupations[9]
      • Diagnosing/treating practitioners (e.g., dentist, optometrists, physicians, psychiatrists, podiatrists ,surgeons, veterinarians)
      • Registered nurses, pharmacists, dieticians, therapists, physician assistants, nurse practitioners
      • Health technologists and technicians (e.g., dental hygienists, health record technologists/technicians, licensed practical nurses, medical or laboratory technicians, radiological technicians)
      • OTHER health occupations
      • Postsecondary Teachers: Health and Related Sciences
    • S&E managers
    • S&E Pre-college Teachers
    • S&E technicians and technologists[10]
      • Technologists and technicians in the biological/life sciences
      • Computer programmers (business, scientific, process control)
      • Electrical, electronic, industrial, and mechanical technicians
      • Drafting occupations, including computer drafting
      • Surveying and mapping technicians
      • OTHER engineering technologists and technicians
      • Surveyors, cartographers, photogrammetrists
      • Technologists and technicians in the mathematical sciences
      • Technologists and technicians in the physical sciences
    • Other S&E-related occupations
    • Non-S&E Managers
    • Management-related occupations
    • Non-S&E precollege teachers
    • Non-S&E postsecondary teachers
    • Social services and related occupations
    • Sales and marketing occupations
    • Art, humanities and related occupations
    • Other non-S&E occupations[11]
      • Accounting clerks and bookkeepers
      • Secretaries, receptionists, typists
      • OTHER administrative (e.g. record clerks, telephone operators)
      • Farmers, Foresters and Fishermen
      • Lawyers, judges
      • Librarians, archivists, curators
      • Food preparation and service (e.g., cooks, waitresses, bartenders)
      • Protective services (e.g., fire fighters, police, guards, wardens, park rangers)
      • OTHER service occupations, except health (e.g., probation officer, human services workers)
      • OTHER teachers and instructors (e.g., private tutors, dance or flying instructors, martial arts instructors)
      • Construction and extraction occupations
      • Installation, maintenance, and repair occupations
      • Precision/production occupations (e.g., metal workers, woodworkers, butchers, bakers, assemblers, printing occupations, tailors, shoemakers, photographic process)
      • Transportation and material moving occupations

    [1] A “case” here refers to a combination of a degree type and field of study

    [2] A “case” here refers to a combination of a highest degree-level, field of study and occupational area.

    [3] These definitions are based on U.S. Network for Education Information’s Structure of U.S. Education (  For NPSAS:12, graduate degrees are defined by the variable, GRADGPG, and undergraduate degrees are defined by the variable, UGDEG. For NSCG:10, the variable, 

    [4] The online data portal and codebook can be found at:

    [5]The online data portal and codebook can be found at:

    [6] O_ED_HD_MAJOR_ED_CAT_NEW = 768100

    [7] O_ED_HD_MAJOR_ED_CAT_NEW = 738620

    [8] The online data portal and codebook can be found at:

    [9]B_JOB_CAT_NEW2 = 611110, 611120, 611130, 611140, and 612870

    [10]B_JOB_CAT_NEW2 = 640260, 640530, 641000, 641010, 641020, 641030, 641040, 641750, and 641970

    [11]B_JOB_CAT_NEW2 = 780310, 780320, 780330, 781100, 781200, 781300, 782210, 782220, 782230, 783000, 784010, 784020, 784030, 784050, and 785000