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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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US investment in the Netherlands from 2000 to 2010 was nine times more than US investment in China during the same period. US investment in the UK was more than seven times more, and in Ireland nearly three times more, than in China. (Source: Transatlantic Economy 2011

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