Six Degrees That Can Pay Off Before Graduation


These degrees can help you pursue careers before you collect your diploma.

By Lee Nelson

You want to pursue a new career and you're ready to go back to school to start preparing. Now the question is which degree to go after. While there's no guarantee that getting a degree will result in you getting a job, some degrees seem to be more employable than others.

Case in point: the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) Class of 2013 Student Survey found that 45.9 percent of seniors received at least one job offer prior to graduation. But some majors got more job offers than others.

If you need help settling on which degree to pursue, read on to learn more about degrees that could potentially pay off before you even graduate.

Degree #1: Bachelor's in Accounting

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Numbers just come easily to you. Math classes were never a worry. That could come in handy if you decide on using those skills to pursue a degree in accounting.

In 2013, graduating seniors with an accounting degree were the top major for early employment, with 54.7 of graduating seniors who applied for jobs receiving jobs prior to graduation, according to the NACE study.

Why it's in High Demand: "Accounting programs typically offer a curriculum that provides students with detailed, specific knowledge skills appropriate to accounting as a technical profession as well as preparatory for professional accounting certifications," says Deborah Smith-Howell, associate vice chancellor for Academic Affairs, University of Nebraska at Omaha "additionally, the programs work to develop problem solving, analytical, communication, and teamwork skills which are valued by employers."

Next step: Click to Find the Right Accounting Program.

Potential Career Paths*:

Degree #2: Bachelor's in Computer Science

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You were practically born with a keyboard in your hand. You knew whether you were a Mac or a PC person before you could walk. How about putting that fascination toward a degree that might get you noticed by many industries?

According to the NACE survey, 53.7 percent of computer science majors who applied for a job prior to graduation got a job before getting their diploma.

Next step: Click to Find the Right Computer Science Program.

Why it's in High Demand: "When most people think of computer science, they automatically shift to a thinking of code writing or the internal components of a computer," says Christopher Kline, teacher at Westmoreland County Community College, Youngwood, Pa., and Southern New Hampshire University, Manchester, N.H., "in the 21st century, that is not true… Our society requires the use of computers in health care, animation, design, social networking, architecture - and the list goes on."

Potential Career Paths:*

Degree #3: Bachelor's in Engineering**

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The way things fit together and work together has been inspiring you since your first Lego kit. You just might have what it takes to study engineering.

Pursuing an engineering degree can create a lot of options for you, and you'll be happy to know that 50.4 percent of engineering majors who applied for jobs while in school had jobs before they even graduated, according to the NACE study.

Next step: Click to Find the Right Engineering Program.

Why it's in High Demand: "Engineering falls into the broad category of STEM degrees (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) which is an area that is consistently expanding," says Kline, "this is an area that is not only expanding by definition but also an area that is growing by need."

Potential Career Paths*:

Degree #4: Bachelor's in Economics

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While the other kids were watching "Sports Center," you were watching "Mad Money." While they played fantasy football, you diversified your fantasy stock portfolio. With a degree in economics, you can put your interest in how various forces affect buying and selling to good use.

Furthermore, if the NACE survey is any indication, economics majors remain in high demand. The survey revealed that 41.9 percent of graduating seniors studying economics who applied for jobs before graduation day had jobs before even graduating.

Next step: Click to Find the Right Finance Program.

Why it's in High Demand: "An economics degree is highly valued by employers," says Trish Thomas, assistant director of career services at Eastern Connecticut State University, Hartford, "the study of economics is important because it is a social science that applies theory and quantitative techniques to contemporary problems. It provides invaluable insight into how today's world works and an understanding to the complex political economic issues that face the United States and the world today."

She adds that the scope of the major is broader and more analytical than a business major, and the theories can be applied to multiple sectors, which makes it very employable.

Potential Career Paths*:

Degree #5: Bachelor of Business Administration

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You read the Wall Street Journal from cover to cover. You were in the Future Business Leaders of America in high school. Naturally, you're thinking about seeking a degree in business administration. Is it a degree in high demand? You bet.

According to the NACE study, among business administration majors 32.2 percent who applied got jobs before graduating.

Next step: Click to Find the Right Business Administration Program.

Why It's in High Demand: "Business administration degrees provide a relatively broad foundation but with significant technical, mathematical and analytical skills," says Smith-Howell.  There is also a wealth of opportunities that may be open to those with a business administration degree...

Potential Career Paths*:

* All potential careers listed from the 2014-2015 U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Outlook Handbook. The Department of Labor cites the associated degrees as common, required, preferred, or one of a number of degrees acceptable as preparation for the potential career. In some instances, candidates might require further schooling, professional certifications, or experience, before being qualified to pursue the career.

** All potential engineering careers require an engineering degree in a specific field or specialty.

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