The 10 Most Profitable (and 10 Least) Undergraduate University Degrees


Sure, you could earn your millions after earning your bachelor’s degree in English or Art History, but if high earning potential is your goal after graduation, you’ll want to target your education plans accordingly. . (Hint: think STEM.)

(Photo credit: Bradley P. Johnson/ Flickr)

Establishment, academic performance, geography, internship experience, current economy, and luck, to name a few factors, all have an impact on earning potential after graduation. That being said, salary data can reveal valuable patterns that link specific undergraduate majors to higher median salaries.

Overall, national averages of median salaries suggest that practical and technical degrees are more profitable than creative or abstract degrees. Petroleum engineering, for example, ranks first on Payscale College salary report, while art, creative writing, and music all rank below the top 100.

In fact, the top 10 spots on PayScale’s list are almost entirely dominated by STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) degrees:

10 Most Profitable Undergraduate Majors *

1. Petroleum engineering: $ 176,300

2. Actuarial mathematics: $ 119,600

3. Nuclear engineering: $ 118,800

4. Chemical engineering: $ 116,700

5. Electronics and communications engineering: $ 113,200

6. Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE): $ 113,000

7. Computer science (CS) and engineering: $ 112,600

8. Computer Engineering (CE): $ 108,600

9. Aerospace engineering: $ 107,900

10. Electrical Engineering (EE): $ 107,900

* Ranked by highest mid-career salary potential

Humanities majors requiring sharp analytical and critical skills, including English philosophy, history, language and literature, can also lead to profitable careers. These degrees, however, tend to produce higher salaries later in the career compared to STEM majors. Of all the humanities majors, those who study philosophy earn the highest salaries midway through their careers ($ 84,000).

At the other end of the spectrum of earning potential, those who specialize in highly rewarding but less technical degrees unfortunately tend to have lower earning potential overall. In fact, four of the five least profitable degrees, according to PayScale data, are in teaching or education. Here is a list of the 10 least profitable:

10 least profitable university majors

1. Child development: $ 36,400

2. Early childhood education: $ 38,000

3. Child and Family Studies: $ 38,600

4. Early childhood and elementary education: $ 40,400

5. Personal services (HS): $ 41,300

6. Primary education: $ 45,500

7. Sports training: $ 45,900

8. Pastoral ministry: $ 46,000

9. Social work (TS): $ 46,600

10. Special education: $ 46,800

While national averages should not be taken as a rock-solid guarantee of how much money you will earn after college, being aware of national trends can lead to more informed decisions about your academic and professional future and better. understand what you want from you. both your education and your career.

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