Special Report

The Highest and Lowest Paying College Majors in America

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20. Science and computer teacher education
> Avg. annual earnings: $38,333
> Unemployment rate: 2.5%
> Total workforce: 75,182

Science and computer teacher education graduates earn less than $40,000 per year on average. Unlike other education degree holders, science and computer teaching majors go on to complete their doctorate degrees at a much higher rate than the average bachelor’s degree holder. Nearly 17% of science and computer education graduates earn a doctorate, more than double the 6.6% share of all bachelor’s degree holders and well above all other education degree fields.

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19. Social psychology
> Avg. annual earnings: $38,001
> Unemployment rate: N/A
> Total workforce: 11,837

According to the American Psychological Association, social psychologists study the way “individuals affect and are affected by other people and by their social and physical environments.” Half of social psychology majors who earn a bachelor’s degree go on to earn a master’s degree. Despite this relatively high level of education, social psychology majors’ earnings of just $38,000 on average annually are well below the average earnings of most other college graduates.

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18. Educational psychology
> Avg. annual earnings: $37,766
> Unemployment rate: 6.5%
> Total workforce: 24,730

Educational psychology is the study of how humans learn. These degree holders are among the most likely college graduates to be unemployed. The 6.5% unemployment rate among educational psychology majors likely contributes to the lower average earnings among these degree holders, which is less than $38,000 a year.

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17. Cosmetology services and culinary arts
> Avg. annual earnings: $37,325
> Unemployment rate: 4.7%
> Total workforce: 57,980

Those in cosmetology services, such as barbers and hairstylists, and culinary arts, like chefs and cooks, are more likely to be unemployed than most other college graduates. Neither career path typically requires a college degree for an entry level position — many barber and hairstylist jobs require some type of non-college certification, and the requirement for a chef job is typically just a high school diploma or equivalent. In most jobs, higher levels of education typically correlate with higher wages, but since these careers generally do not require a college education, graduates in these fields are generally not highly paid.

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16. Studio arts
> Avg. annual earnings: $37,169
> Unemployment rate: 3.3%
> Total workforce: 94,784

Studio arts, unlike fine arts, includes only visually perceived arts, like ceramics, photography, painting, and sculpting. The success of an arts career largely depends on the overall state of the economy, as people are generally willing to pay for a luxury good, such as a painting or sculpture, when they have disposable income. While studio art majors can focus in on a number of different disciplines, none are likely to be especially well paying. The average studio art major makes just over $37,000 annually.

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