Special Report

30 College Majors Which Actually Pay More for Black Versus White Graduates

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Racial income disparities are stark in the United States. On average, Black households earn about 63 cents for every dollar earned by white households, based on census figures. In addition, Black workers tend to be segregated into lower-paying jobs in retail, health care, and food service, while many higher-paying professions have disproportionately low Black representation, with only 5% of physicians being Black, and 4.5% of software developers, according to a McKinsey’s report from 2021.

Access to quality higher education is a large factor in this disparity. Black school children are more likely to be poor and less likely to attend college – largely due to the effects of centuries of discrimination. There are, however, certain jobs that tend to pay Black college graduates more than their white counterparts. (These are America’s best companies to work for according to Black workers.)

To determine the majors that predict higher salaries for Black students, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed data on earnings from the U.S. Census Bureau. Undergraduate majors were ranked based on the dollar difference in median earnings between Black degree holders and white degree holders. All 30 fields of study for which Black degree holders earn more than white degree holders are listed. All data is from the Census’ 2021 American Community Survey and are one-year estimates.

The majors on the list span education, humanities, sciences, and engineering. The lowest-paid majors tend to be in education, with median salaries ranging from around $31,000 to $42,000 for Black graduates. The highest-paying majors tend to be in science and engineering, with salaries ranging from about $58,000 to $108,000 for Black graduates. 

The highest-paying degree on the list is materials science, an interdisciplinary field that involves research into molecular structure for the development of solid materials. This field also employs the smallest share of Black degree holders of all fields on the list – only 1.9%. The fields with the highest share of Black graduates are social sciences (10.8%), counseling psychology (12.7%), and social work (17.3%). (Also see, cities with the most Black-owned businesses.)

Click here to see the 30 college majors higher earnings for black versus white graduates.

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30. Engineering and Industrial Management
> Median earnings for Black degree-holders: $61,612 (+$152 white earnings)
> Median earnings for white degree-holders: $61,460
> Black degree-holders as share of total: 3.4%

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29. Architecture
> Median earnings for Black degree-holders: $74,928 (+$733 white earnings)
> Median earnings for white degree-holders: $74,195
> Black degree-holders as share of total: 4.8%

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28. Language and Drama Education
> Median earnings for Black degree-holders: $34,116 (+$942 white earnings)
> Median earnings for white degree-holders: $33,174
> Black degree-holders as share of total: 5.1%

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27. Elementary Education
> Median earnings for Black degree-holders: $31,457 (+$2,459 white earnings)
> Median earnings for white degree-holders: $28,998
> Black degree-holders as share of total: 6.1%

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26. General Education
> Median earnings for Black degree-holders: $36,625 (+$2,707 white earnings)
> Median earnings for white degree-holders: $33,918
> Black degree-holders as share of total: 8.5%

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25. Special Needs Education
> Median earnings for Black degree-holders: $40,672 (+$2,740 white earnings)
> Median earnings for white degree-holders: $37,932
> Black degree-holders as share of total: 8.1%

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24. Counseling Psychology
> Median earnings for Black degree-holders: $48,474 (+$3,952 white earnings)
> Median earnings for white degree-holders: $44,522
> Black degree-holders as share of total: 12.7%

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23. Family and Consumer Sciences
> Median earnings for Black degree-holders: $41,108 (+$4,289 white earnings)
> Median earnings for white degree-holders: $36,819
> Black degree-holders as share of total: 9.4%

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22. Anthropology and Archeology
> Median earnings for Black degree-holders: $57,921 (+$4,781 white earnings)
> Median earnings for white degree-holders: $53,140
> Black degree-holders as share of total: 4.3%

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21. Atmospheric Sciences and Meteorology
> Median earnings for Black degree-holders: $76,214 (+$4,804 white earnings)
> Median earnings for white degree-holders: $71,410
> Black degree-holders as share of total: 4.3%

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20. Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering
> Median earnings for Black degree-holders: $95,639 (+$5,116 white earnings)
> Median earnings for white degree-holders: $90,523
> Black degree-holders as share of total: 4.8%

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19. Social Work
> Median earnings for Black degree-holders: $45,501 (+$5,202 white earnings)
> Median earnings for white degree-holders: $40,299
> Black degree-holders as share of total: 17.3%

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18. Educational Administration and Supervision
> Median earnings for Black degree-holders: $50,224 (+$6,179 white earnings)
> Median earnings for white degree-holders: $44,045
> Black degree-holders as share of total: 9.3%

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17. Nursing
> Median earnings for Black degree-holders: $63,158 (+$6,352 white earnings)
> Median earnings for white degree-holders: $56,806
> Black degree-holders as share of total: 9.3%

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16. Miscellaneous Biology
> Median earnings for Black degree-holders: $69,809 (+$6,413 white earnings)
> Median earnings for white degree-holders: $63,396
> Black degree-holders as share of total: 5.2%

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15. Clinical Psychology
> Median earnings for Black degree-holders: $58,876 (+$6,500 white earnings)
> Median earnings for white degree-holders: $52,376
> Black degree-holders as share of total: 5.6%

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14. Art and Music Education
> Median earnings for Black degree-holders: $41,638 (+$6,535 white earnings)
> Median earnings for white degree-holders: $35,103
> Black degree-holders as share of total: 5.3%

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13. Composition and Rhetoric
> Median earnings for Black degree-holders: $53,155 (+$6,842 white earnings)
> Median earnings for white degree-holders: $46,313
> Black degree-holders as share of total: 6.7%

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12. Medical Technologies Technicians
> Median earnings for Black degree-holders: $59,631 (+$6,975 white earnings)
> Median earnings for white degree-holders: $52,656
> Black degree-holders as share of total: 6.5%

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11. Miscellaneous Fine Arts
> Median earnings for Black degree-holders: $53,959 (+$7,023 white earnings)
> Median earnings for white degree-holders: $46,936
> Black degree-holders as share of total: 5.9%

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10. Communication Disorders Sciences and Services
> Median earnings for Black degree-holders: $54,020 (+$7,133 white earnings)
> Median earnings for white degree-holders: $46,887
> Black degree-holders as share of total: 6.9%

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9. General Social Sciences
> Median earnings for Black degree-holders: $50,777 (+$8,377 white earnings)
> Median earnings for white degree-holders: $42,400
> Black degree-holders as share of total: 10.8%

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8. Cognitive Science and Biopsychology
> Median earnings for Black degree-holders: $90,547 (+$10,259 white earnings)
> Median earnings for white degree-holders: $80,288
> Black degree-holders as share of total: 7.5%

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7. Food Science
> Median earnings for Black degree-holders: $77,468 (+$11,584 white earnings)
> Median earnings for white degree-holders: $65,884
> Black degree-holders as share of total: 7.9%

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6. Library Science
> Median earnings for Black degree-holders: $31,826 (+$12,230 white earnings)
> Median earnings for white degree-holders: $19,596
> Black degree-holders as share of total: 6.9%

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5. Military Technologies
> Median earnings for Black degree-holders: $71,145 (+$14,275 white earnings)
> Median earnings for white degree-holders: $56,870
> Black degree-holders as share of total: 10.7%

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4. Materials Science
> Median earnings for Black degree-holders: $108,250 (+$14,398 white earnings)
> Median earnings for white degree-holders: $93,852
> Black degree-holders as share of total: 1.9%

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3. Pharmacy Pharmaceutical Sciences and Administration
> Median earnings for Black degree-holders: $95,318 (+$16,214 white earnings)
> Median earnings for white degree-holders: $79,104
> Black degree-holders as share of total: 6.6%

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2. School Student Counseling
> Median earnings for Black degree-holders: $45,827 (+$16,405 white earnings)
> Median earnings for white degree-holders: $29,422
> Black degree-holders as share of total: 6.2%

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1. Humanities
> Median earnings for Black degree-holders: $65,048 (+$17,882 white earnings)
> Median earnings for white degree-holders: $47,166
> Black degree-holders as share of total: 5.2%

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