Most and least lucrative college majors
The value of a bachelor’s degree, in dollars and cents.
With the average tuition and fees for private colleges at a gut-punching $29,056 per year, students and their gently weeping parents may be wondering which fields of study stand to see the greatest financial returns.
Of course, an untold number of additional factors beyond a student’s major influence employability and income. And there is more value in a good education than setting up a high starting salary. But for anyone who wants to evaluate the worth of a college degree in dollars and cents, the numbers have officially been crunched.
Anthony Carnevale, an economist at Georgetown University, and two colleagues researched the median earnings for full-time workers with bachelor’s degrees (no workers with graduate degrees are included in the data below) and shared the study results with NPR.
Here are the three most lucrative and three least lucrative majors according to Carnevale’s research, with median incomes included.
Majors with the highest earnings
Petroleum Engineering: $120,000
Pharmacy Sciences/Administration: $105,000
Mathematics and Computer Science: $98,000
All seven of the remaining top 10 majors with the highest median earnings were engineering degrees, according to the research. Earning median incomes between $80,000 and $87,000 were majors in aerospace, chemical, naval architecture/marine, mechanical, metallurgical, and mining and mineral engineering. Looking more broadly, the median income for all workers with a bachelor’s degree in engineering was $75,000.
Majors with the lowest earnings
Counseling Psychology: $29,000
Early Childhood Education: $36,000
Theology and Religious Vocations: $38,000
The seven remaining top 10 majors with lowest median earnings, ranging from $38,000 to $40,000, were human services and community organization, social work, drama and theater arts, studio arts, communication disorders sciences, visual and performing arts, and health and medical preparatory programs.
Apparently wary of scaring people away from higher education, Carnevale and co. open their study with a memorable insight.
When considering the question of whether earning a college degree is worth the investment in these uncertain economic times, here is a number to keep in mind: 84 percent.
On average, that is how much more money a full-time, full-year worker with a bachelor’s degree can expect to earn over a lifetime than a colleague who has no better than a high school diploma.
To learn more, including income differences by gender and race, see What’s It Worth: The Economic Value of College Majors from Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce.
Photo: Offshore oil rig (© Mayumi Terao/Getty Images)
inspire: live a better life
Research could mean more effective treatment for human disorders.
An entry a day might keep the doctor away (or at least the shrink).
One woman's shout-outs to daily moments of joy — and how to cultivate them.
Volunteering (and these other rituals) might be just as good as exercise when it comes to extending your life.
Use these tricks to set a better tone for the rest of the week.
In September, I'll turn 38. I'm at the age now where, when people ask how old I am, it takes me a minute to remember. I don't know if that's because I've already been 37 different ages and it's hard to keep straight which one I am now, or if it's because I'm in denial, or if it's because I am going senile. Maybe a combination of all of the above. Regardless, my 30s have flown by and soon they will be but a memory. So, in an effort to preserve the memory I have left (or at least keep a record of it), and to celebrate what has been an amazing decade so far, here are 30 things that have happened to me in my 30s (and will probably happen to you too):
Our best health and fitness tips including the one move that tones all, berry news, and more.
Who just wants to stand around and watch the red and gold leaves slowly fall from their tree branches to the ground as we move from summer to fall? Instead, take in the changing seasons while you're on the move.
Here's some tips to get to happiness going forward in your life.
People 60 to 82 did best on cognitive tasks before 10:30am.
Lucille Ball was born in 1911, and though we lost her long ago, her legacy as America's favorite redhead lives on through the timeless classic, "I Love Lucy." People of all generations still enjoy Lucy's antics as much as they did over 60 years ago when the show first premiered.