Special Report

College Majors With the Highest Unemployment

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20. Interdisciplinary social sciences
> Unemployment rate: 3.9%
> Avg. salary: $51,391
> Undergrad degree holders with a master’s or professional degree or higher: 40.7%
> Undergrad degree holders in labor force: 97,831

Interdisciplinary social sciences students study the connection between social sciences, such as anthropology or political science, and other related fields of study. An interdisciplinary major, this degree does not prepare students for a specific career or occupation. Rather, graduates gain broad knowledge in a variety of disciplines that can be applied to any number of fields.

Still, likely due in part to the lack of specialization, interdisciplinary social science majors are slightly more likely to be out of work than most other college graduates. An estimated 3.9% of labor force participants with the degree are unemployed, compared to just 2.6% of all bachelor’s degree holders.

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19. Humanities
> Unemployment rate: 3.9%
> Avg. salary: $50,152
> Undergrad degree holders with a master’s or professional degree or higher: 37.3%
> Undergrad degree holders in labor force: 62,617

The humanities are a broad classification of academic disciplines that includes fields such as English, history, philosophy, classics, and languages. While a humanities degree does not lead directly to a specific career path or occupation, it develops students’ research, writing, and critical thinking skills.

There are over 62,600 Americans in the labor force with a humanities degree, and 3.9% of them are unemployed — above the 2.6% jobless rate among college graduates but below the 4.5% unemployment rate among all education levels.

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18. Cosmetology services and culinary arts
> Unemployment rate: 4.1%
> Avg. salary: $43,194
> Undergrad degree holders with a master’s or professional degree or higher: 6.1%
> Undergrad degree holders in labor force: 66,859

Cosmetology services and culinary arts is a major that prepares students for careers in two distinct fields — personal hair, skin, and nail care and cooking and food preparation. Just under 67,000 labor force participants have a bachelor’s degree in the major, and 4.1% of them are unemployed.

Multiple years of postsecondary education is not always necessary for jobs in cosmetology or the culinary arts, and only 6.1% of Americans with this major have gone on to earn a professional, graduate, or doctorate degree, compared to 32.8% of all bachelor’s degree holders who have earned an advanced degree.

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17. Genetics
> Unemployment rate: 4.1%
> Avg. salary: $88,409
> Undergrad degree holders with a master’s or professional degree or higher: 57.9%
> Undergrad degree holders in labor force: 25,293

Genetics is the scientific study of genes, DNA, and heredity in biological organisms. The major is broad in scope and students can choose to focus on any number of specializations, including medicine, agriculture, and biotechnology. Many of the careers and occupations that genetics majors pursue require further education beyond the undergraduate level, and 57.9% of those who choose the major go on to earn a higher degree like a master’s or doctorate.

There are more than 25,000 Americans in the labor force who majored in genetics, and the jobless rate among them is 4.1% — above the 2.6% rate among college graduates but below the 4.5% unemployment rate among all education levels.

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16. Mass media
> Unemployment rate: 4.1%
> Avg. salary: $57,481
> Undergrad degree holders with a master’s or professional degree or higher: 18.3%
> Undergrad degree holders in labor force: 339,021

Mass communication majors study the transmission of information, such as news and entertainment, through mediums such as newspapers, magazines, television, and film. Careers that await mass media majors include journalism, public relations, photography, broadcasting, and advertising, among others.

The internet has been a major disruptive force for mass communications as newspapers across the country have been going out of business, and once strong ratings for certain broadcast television slots have plummeted. Likely partially as a result, a higher than average 4.1% share of mass media majors in the labor force are unemployed.

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