Special Report

These Are the Lowest Paying College Majors

Going to college can be beneficial for a wide variety of reasons: it can give students the opportunity to make lifelong friends and learn about ourselves in the process. Going to college, of course, also provides students with an education, which then often helps them launch their career. In many instances, a college major can also play a role in determining post-college salary as graduates of some majors may earn considerably less than graduates of other majors.

To determine the lowest paying college majors, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed data on earnings from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2021 American Community Survey Public Use Microdata Sample files. Undergraduate college majors were ranked based on the average reported incomes of degree holders in 2021.

When we choose a college major, there are many factors that come into play. Some choose their major based on personal passions for the arts or interest in certain subjects. Some choose a major that focuses on helping people, like special needs education. Other considerations may include future earnings potential. (These are the 30 college majors with higher earnings for Black versus white graduates.)

Both fine arts and special needs education are among the lowest-paying majors because the jobs that these majors prepare students for tend to be low-paying. Many arts-related jobs, including visual, performing, and studio arts, are on this list, alongside teaching jobs, social work, community organization, and other historically low-paying jobs. 

Education majors, however, are dominant in this list. A career as an educator can be highly rewarding, but those choosing to pursue this career, even after a four-year education, should know that the median American public school teacher salary, as of 2023, was $56,026, according to Salary.com. (These are America’s best public high schools.)

Click here to see the lowest paying college majors.

Click here to see our detailed methodology.

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