College has never been more expensive, so what should someone study so the student has a better chance at a high salary once graduation comes?

Here's a hint -- head to your nearest medical school or engineering college if you want an awesome starting salary.

According to College Majors Handbook with Real Career Paths and Payoffs, which uses data from the Census Bureau statistics, U.S. Department of Labor studies and a 2011 survey of 170,000 college grads by the National Science Foundation, students who studied engineering and medicine command the highest median pay.

If you've already decided on another major, though, you might still be in good shape for a big payoff of another type, as Fortune magazine notes:

Despite relatively modest median pay of $44,000, well below the roughly $54,000 average for all 58 fields of study, English majors report job satisfaction that is on a par with that of people who make far more money. Likewise, recent grads who majored in history, although they earn $48,000 on average — and often end up working in unrelated fields like sales and marketing — report higher-than-average satisfaction with their chosen path.

Click through the slideshow below to see the 15 majors with the biggest median salary pay offs, and let us know in the comments section below what the most important factor is in choosing a major for you!

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  • Mechanical engineering technology $63,000

  • Financial management $63,000

  • Economics $63,300

    FILE photo of Ben Bernanke (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

  • Electrical and electronics engineering technology $65,000

    Lead Processing Engineer Patrick O'Keefe, right, talks to U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu, as they watch a robot at work during a tour of the General Electric Prime Star solar manufacturing plant in Arvada, Colo., on Friday, Nov. 18, 2011.

  • Civil engineering $70,000

    In this May 18, 2012, photo, Kathy Gwilym, a senior civil engineer with the SVR Design Company, walks past a sewer access cover in a neighborhood in Seattle, where the county plans to install landscaped natural drainage systems in front of people's homes to prevent storm water runoff from flowing into Puget Sound. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

  • Physics and astronomy $72,200

    South Korean astronomy students use telescopes to observe an annular solar eclipse in Seoul, South Korea, Monday, May 21, 2012. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

  • Industrial engineering $73,000

  • Computer science $73,000

  • Aerospace and aeronautical engineering $74,000

  • Mechanical engineering $75,000

  • Electrical and electronics engineering $75,000

  • Chemical engineering $80,000

  • Pharmacy $84,000

  • Computer systems engineering $85,000

  • Pre-med $100,000