Special Report

Choosing These College Majors Will Pay Off the Least

Student loan debt is soaring in the United States, overtaking both auto loans and credit card debt in recent years to become the second largest form of consumer debt, after only home mortgages. Americans have a cumulative total of $1.6 trillion in outstanding student loans. 

Record high debt is due in part to climbing tuition costs — here is a list of the colleges with the biggest tuition hikes. In light of the increasing costs of a four-year education, it is more important than ever for the college-bound to consider the kinds of careers their degrees may lead to, and how much they can expect to earn. 

Using average annual earnings data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, 24/7 Wall St. identified the college majors that will pay off the least. Average annual incomes of working Americans who chose these majors range from about $46,000 to just under $28,000. It is important to note that while these salaries are on the low end of the spectrum for adults with bachelor’s degrees, they are all well above the $13,364 annual salary for the average worker without a four-year degree. 

The subjects on this list are largely in areas like education, the humanities, and the arts. And for many Americans who go into these fields, earning potential after graduation is not their first priority. Occupations like social work or teaching are well suited to many students’ talents and interests, even though they are not typically high paying. 

Still, it is important to consider, and take measures to minimize, the financial burden of choosing these majors. This may mean applying for scholarships, or attending a school with lower-than-average tuition costs. Here is a list of the most affordable colleges with the best outcomes in each state.

Click here to see the which college majors will pay off the least
Click here to read our methodology