What’s It Worth?: The Economic Value of College Majors, a new report from the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce, contains some very interesting data that should spark debate over the relative economic value of college majors. The Georgetown researchers analyzed census data that links workers’ bachelor degree majors with their careers and earnings – data that’s never been available before. The results show wide variation in earnings between majors -students with the highest-earning majors earn over 300% more than those with the lowest-earning majors. That’s a big difference in the return on investment for tuition dollars.
There are also substantial differences within majors. Table 27 from the report (below) shows the top 10 majors with the biggest variation in earnings.
The researchers also found troubling disparities in earnings by gender and race, even within the same majors. Below is chart 20 from the report, which shows the top 10 highest earning majors for African Americans – it also shows some pretty big differences among racial groups in median earnings within those majors.
This is important information for college students to know. Some people may not want finances to enter into students’ choice of major – students should study what they’re passionate about, right? Students should also know the economic cost or benefit of that decision and be able to weigh passion and economics accordingly.