People who hold a master's degree generally earn more money than people who hold only a bachelor's degree. The extent of difference in salary also depends on other factors, such as demographics, type of degree and occupation.

Median Weekly Earnings

The median weekly income for Americans age 25 and older is $774, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Workers with a bachelor's degree or higher earn a median salary of $1,145 per week. Workers with just a bachelor's degree earn a median salary of $1,026; people who have earned advanced degrees earn a median salary of $1,336. These figures apply to the third quarter of 2009.

Salary by Gender

Although earnings for workers with advanced degrees are higher across the board, there are discrepancies between the earnings of men and women. Men age 25 and older with only bachelor's degrees earn a median weekly salary of $1,194, lower than the median salary of $1,536 for those with advanced degrees. Women with only bachelor's degrees earn a median salary of $905 a week, less than the $1,161 median salary for women with advanced degrees.

Salary by Ethnicity

Asians have the highest median weekly salary of the surveyed ethnic groups. They are statistically followed by whites, blacks and Hispanics. In the third quarter of 2009, Asian men had the highest median weekly income, $941. Hispanic women had the lowest median weekly income with $513.


When you are looking at the statistics for ethnic groups, several factors should be into consideration. The statistics did not factor in mixed-raced individuals or Native Americans. Persons who identify themselves as Hispanic may fit into one or more ethnic groups.

Salary by Degree Type

The difference in annual salary between people who hold master's and bachelor's degrees is generally greater in math and scientific fields than inhumanities and social science fields. For example, those with master's degrees in physical sciences have an average starting salary of $69,842, while those with only bachelor's degrees start about $31,258. Workers with master's degrees in psychology start about $37,528, just a little higher than the $35,085 starting salary for those with only bachelor's degrees.