10 graduate degrees that offer the best and worst debt-to-income ratios

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If you think the cost of a four-year degree is expensive, try piling on another two or more years of education to get a graduate degree.

New data from Credible.com can help you determine how much debt you’ll be saddled with to get that advanced degree you might be thinking about earning.

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Graduate degrees: Choose your path wisely

Graduate school can create a big financial burden in your life, but it can also boost your earning potential.

The trick is knowing which degree is going to do more of the latter and less of the former for you.

Much like SoFi.com, Credible.com is in the business of helping student loan borrowers refinance their debt load. Culling data from 91,000 refi applicants over some three years, Credible was able to determine which advanced degrees result in the highest debt-to-income ratios for borrowers.

Here’s a look at the top five best and worst graduates degrees, according to their study.

5 degrees with the highest student loan monthly debt-to-income ratio

Graduate degree Monthly debt-to-income ratio Monthly loan payment  Annual income
 Optometry  14.9%  $1,369  $110K
 Veterinary  12.6%  $891  $85K
 Physician Assistant  11.6% $964  $100K
 Dentistry  11.5%  $1,434  $150K
 Pharmacy  10.9%  $1,092  $120K

5 degrees with the lowest student loan monthly debt-to-income ratio

 Graduate degree  Monthly debt-to-income ratio  Monthly loan payment  Annual income
 Computer Science  6.4%  $477  $89.7K
 MBA  6.8%  $510  $89.9K
 Finance (not MBA)  7.0%  $467  $80K
 Nursing  7.1%  $566  $96K
 Accounting  7.2%  $408  $68.2K

What these numbers effectively show is that an accountant or a computer scientist is better poised to tackle student loan debt after grad school than a dentist or optometrist — even though the dentists can earn more than twice as much as accountants.

Which brings up a central question about higher education: Is graduate school worth the cost?

Let’s look closer at the numbers…

Annual tuition for a graduate degree at a public college or university is nearly $30,000, according to the latest estimates. And if you’re talking about private schools, you can tack on another $10K a year for tuition costs.


Remember, that’s above and beyond what you pay for a traditional bachelor’s degree.

When it comes to getting a bachelor’s, the College Board’s latest numbers for the 2017-2018 academic year show that could easily run you $34,740 at private colleges, $9,970 for state residents at public colleges and $25,620 for out-of-state residents attending public universities.

Don’t forget to multiply that by four for each year of your undergrad studies!

Deciding to continue your education and attend graduate school is a very personal choice. No matter what field of study or work you want to get into, earning an advanced degree takes a big financial and personal commitment. There’s a lot of money, time, energy and effort involved.

Before making your decision, it’s smart to know your options. Because there may be some alternatives to expensive advanced degrees that you haven’t considered…

Consider this before you commit to grad school

Enrolling in a program from a technical college or continuing education branch of a university might provide you with the skills, training and knowledge you need to advance in your career at a fraction of the cost of grad school. Some states even make tuition free!

There are also a variety of free educational resources available to anyone with an Internet connection. Here at Clark.com, we’ve got a list of more than half a dozen places where you can learn to code for free.

When you consider that an Android developer can earn nearly $98K a year and you could learn the skill set for free — well, that’s what money expert Clark Howard would call “a steal of a deal.”

In a similar vein, sometimes all you need for career advancement is real-world experience. Consider doing volunteer work in your chosen field or industry if you’re interested in gaining the experience you need to obtain a better position at work. It’s free and you’ll only have to give of your time.

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