Follow Your Passion…Or Not

Those entering college desiring to give something back to the community, by majoring in Human Services and Community Organizations, might not be getting much back in their wallets.

In a not-surprising, yet first-of-its-kind study, Georgetown University released a report examining the link between undergraduate majors and earnings potential. Using United States Census data that had not been previously tracked, the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce is “helping Americans connect the dots between college majors and career earnings.”

The top ten majors with the highest median earnings are: Petroleum Engineer ($120,000); Pharmacy/pharmaceutical Sciences and Administration ($105,000); Mathematics and Computer Sciences ($98,000); Aerospace Engineering ($87,000); Chemical Engineering ($86,000); Electrical Engineering ($85,000); Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering ($82,000); Mechanical Engineering, Metallurgical Engineering and Mining and Mineral Engineering (each with median earnings of $80,000).

The ten majors with the lowest median earnings are: Counseling/Psychology ($29,000); Early Childhood Education ($36,000); Theology and Religious Vocations ($38,000); Human Services and Community Organizations ($38,000); Social Work ($39,000); Drama and Theater Arts, Studio Arts, Communication Disorders Sciences and Services, Visual and Performing Arts, and Health and Medical Preparatory Programs (each at $40,000).

Liberal Arts and Humanities majors end up in the middle of the pack in terms of earnings and employment, the report found. They are the third most popular major group, and earn median incomes of $47,000. Moreover, about 40% of people with these majors obtain a graduate degree – the increase in potential earnings depends upon the degree earned.

Ending on a positive note, the report concludes that “While there is a lot of variation in earnings over a lifetime, the authors find that all undergraduate majors are ‘worth it,’ even taking into account the cost of college and lost earnings.”


The complete (200 page) report is available here