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5 High-Paying College Majors

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key to successA college degree offers a unique investment proposition: You determine the rate of return. Depending on which major you choose, you could find yourself earning a comfortable living or a lavish lifestyle. Before you commit to an undergraduate major, consider the likely return on your investment.

Math skills add up to higher earnings

Emphasize numbers in your course curriculum, and you can expect to see higher numbers in your bank account. That's the consensus of several studies, including surveys by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) and PayScale.com. "Math is at the crux of who gets paid," states Ed Koc, director of research at NACE. "If you have those skills, you are an extremely valuable asset." According to NACE, all 15 college majors with the highest earnings potential rely on math skills.

For best results, head for a college major that combines mathematics problem sets with hands-on career training. Applied math wins on the job market, explains PayScale's director of quantitative analysis Al Lee: "The kinds of majors where you learn to integrate mathematics and science with the everyday world have a tremendous benefit in terms of earnings potential." High tech isn't the only road to riches -- you can find applied math careers in business, finance, design and other industries.

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Clare Kaufman

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HCX Facts

Growth in women's share of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) occupations declined to 27% in 2011from a high of 34% in 1990. While women make up nearly half of the workforce, they were 26% of the STEM workforce in 2011.

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