For most people choosing to pursue a college degree, especially a graduate level degree, taking out student loans to pay for the tuition is unavoidable. But is the degree worth the massive amount of student loan debt you will face upon graduation? Although the suggestion is that following a standard repayment plan will allow you to pay your student loan debt off within 10 years, reality is that about 60% of student loan borrowers are not completely repaying their debt until they are well into their 40’s. This means that for most borrowers they will be paying back their student loans for nearly double the amount of time they originally anticipated. Many students do not think ahead about the total amount of debt they will face and the consequences this massive debt can have on their life moving forward. So, we gathered together information on the average amount of student loan debt accumulated and the average amount of time it takes to pay it off for the most popular graduate degrees obtained.

Of course, the actual amount of student loan debt a borrower will accrue and the actual amount of time it will take them to repay that debt will vary from one borrower to the next and is dependent upon a number of variable factors such as the terms of the loan, the amount of their interest rate, the salary they obtain in their chosen career being enough to make the monthly payment, etc. In this guide, we are looking only at the averages and are assuming the borrower will be able to obtain a job within their field at the average salary for their industry upon graduation.

Doctors and Lawyers

 

By large, doctors and lawyers graduate with the largest average amount of student loan debt. And while doctors and lawyers also are typically among the highest earners of the most common degrees obtained, they also are still among the longest amount of time needed to repay their student loan debt because of how high their debt is.

In order to become a family or general practitioner, an individual will need to obtain a Doctor of Medicine (DM) degree. The average overall student loan debt for this type of degree is about $220,000 and the median salary for a doctor is $208,560. It takes the average doctor graduate approximately 16 and a half years to completely pay off their student loan debt.

In order to become a lawyer, an individual will need to obtain a Juris Doctor (JD) degree from a law school that is accredited by the American Bar Association (ABA). According to the ABA, the average overall student loan debt for this type of degree is about $170,000 and the median salary for a lawyer is $135,000. It takes the average law school graduate approximately 15 years to completely pay off their student loan debt.

Master of Business Administration (MBA)

 

The next degree that carries the largest amount of student loan debt on average is a Master of Business Administration (MBA). This type of degree is typically required for those individuals looking to reach an executive level position in business. The average overall student loan debt for this type of degree is about $100,000 and the median salary for a top-level executive is about the same, $100,000. It takes the average MBA graduate approximately 23 years to pay off their overall student loan debt.

Chiropractors

 

In order to become a chiropractor, an individual will need to obtain a Doctor of Chiropractic (D.C.) degree. The average overall student loan debt for this type of degree varies widely depending on the school you attend, with a range from only about $40,000 to more than $150,000. Additionally, most chiropractors are self-employed, and many have to take out additional loans after graduation in order to begin their careers in their own practice. The median salary for a chiropractor is $67,520. Because of the varying factors in the overall total amount of debt that will need to be repaid and the level of success a chiropractor will obtain in private practice, it is difficult to measure the average amount of time it will take for a chiropractor to pay back their student loan debt.

Nurse Practitioners

 

In order to become a nurse practitioner (NP), an individual will need to obtain a master’s degree in nursing. The average overall student loan debt for this type of degree is about $55,000 and the median salary for a nurse practitioner is $98,190. It takes the average nurse practitioner graduate approximately 11 years to completely pay off their student loan debt.

Veterinarians

 

In order to become a veterinarian, an individual will need to obtain a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM or VMD) degree from an accredited college of veterinary medicine. The average overall student loan debt for this type of degree is about $167,534 and the median salary for a veterinarian is $88,490. It takes the average veterinarian between 20 and 25 years to completely pay off their student loan debt.

Dentists

 

In order to become a dentist, an individual will need to obtain a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) degree or a Doctor of Medical Dentistry (DMD) degree. The average overall student loan debt for this type of degree is $241,000 and the median salary for a dentist is $158,310. It takes the average dentist approximately 17 years, at a minimum, to completely pay off their student loan debt.

Teaching positions requiring a Graduate level degree

 

In most states an individual is required to obtain a master’s level degree in order to become a teacher. Additionally, those individuals who would like to teach at the college level as a professor also need a minimum of a master’s degree in the subject that they want to teach, although most universities will require a Doctor of Philosophy (PHD) degree for their professors.

The average overall student loan debt for a master’s in teaching degree is $67,488 and the median salary for teachers with this level of a degree is $76,170. It takes the average teacher approximately 10 years to completely pay off their student loan debt, but this is factoring in their ability to qualify for student loan forgiveness for a portion of their overall loans.

The average overall student loan debt for an individual obtaining a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree is $200,000. The median salary for a full professor at a public university is about $113,738 and for a full professor at a private university is about $120,977. It is also important to note that individuals holding a PhD level degree are able to obtain other careers, such as being a psychiatrist, which has a median salary of $216,090. For PhD graduates who go on to become a psychiatrist, it takes about 16 years on average to completely pay off their student loan debt. For PhD graduates who go on to become a professor, it can take 20 years or more on average to completely pay off their student loan debt, although they may also qualify for some student loan forgiveness as well.

If you have already taken out a large amount of student loans for one of these degrees and are struggling to pay it back, contact the specialists at the Student Loan Advisory Group to discuss the many options we have available to assist you.