This report finds that different majors have different economic value. While going to college is undoubtedly a wise decision, what you take while you’re there matters a lot, too. On average, as we stated, Bachelor’s degree holders earn 84 percent more than those with a high school diploma. However, returns to majors run a wide gamut. At the extreme, the highest earning major earns 314 percent more at the median than the lowest earning major at the median. The difference in earnings potential between a bachelor’s degree in one major versus another can be well over 300 percent. This report analyzes 171 majors in 15 categories. The lifetime advantage ranges from $1.09 million for engineering majors to $241,000 for education majors. The median annual income for a petroleum engineer is $120,000, while the median income for those with a counseling/psychology degree is $29,000.
Carnevale, A., Strohl, J., & Melton, M. (2011). What’s it worth? The economic value of college majors. Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce.