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5 College Degrees That Pay Off

When I was in college, choosing a degree based on how much projected money I would receive by working in that field was the very least of my concerns. My university was still damn expensive ($35,000 / year in 2000), but the housing crisis and economic downfall was not even in near sight. I was a happy-go-lucky college student and enjoyed taking a range of courses (minus anything mathematical) to see what fit me best.

However, these days, many college students are not just letting their hearts lead the way, but are strongly being influenced by the power of the dollar. And this doesn’t mean becoming a doctor or lawyer. Most of my friends who took this path 10 years ago are still paying off their school debts and don’t always live the rich life we all had imagined. So, for those of us going into college or with children in college, here are the undergraduate degrees that can give you the biggest bang for your buck, according to a recent study from Bankrate:


college degrees

So, the 5 college degrees that seem to have best pay off, according to this June 2013 study, are: Advertising, Economists, Civil Engineer, Political Scientist, and Pharmacist. They came to these results based on the average tuition (plus dorm and fees) of a 4-year in-state public college. In this same study, they concluded that the least “worthwhile” degrees in terms of payback are: Librarian, Teacher, Veterinarian, News Analyst, and Marriage Therapist.

However, before you decide to switch majors entirely, there are many factors to consider. Firstly, where you live and the cost of living can have a major impact on how much you make within the first few years of graduation. Also, the number of job positions available in any given field should factor into your decision. I remember that after my graduation in 2003, many friends decided to continue on to become lawyers because the figured it would be a solid degree and they weren’t able to find jobs in their undergraduate degree at the time. However, as more and more students applied to law school, it became clear that the competition was getting more stiff – and this would only continue once they passed their bar exam.

Are you currently in college? Just graduated? Have a son or daughter in college? What are your thoughts?

Featured image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at freedigitalphotos.net

About Jessica J.

A native New Yorker, Jessica left behind the Big Apple almost 4 years ago to pursue new adventures around the world. Powered by caffeine and a relentless curiosity, she has now settled in Tel Aviv Jaffa with her husband, American cat, and a new appreciation for budget management.

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  • Shauna Torres

    Love this… just shows that marketing is the way to go, LOL

    • Jessica J.

      Yep! It’s such a versatile degree – especially in this digital age.

  • mail4rosey

    I love lists like these…too bad I didn’t consult them BEFORE I went to college. 😉

    • Jessica J.

      Yeah … tell me about it!

  • Ronit

    Political science made it in the list?? Where’s my money & job opportunities! :'(

    • Jessica J.

      Where we live, the cost of living of the country / city, etc.. are also factors (ahem….) 😉

  • reesa l

    Great list! I was a history and art history major, went into sales & recruiting and never did a thing with my degree.

    • Jessica J.

      It would be interesting to read a study on how many people actual end up in the field they studied!

  • satnam singh

    totally agree with your list. But now a new trend is started, MOOC, what do you think that will people get job on its basis

    • Jessica J.

      True, MOOC – Massively Open Online Courses – is a huge trend (and actually we should write a post about it soon!). But, I think it’s impact on real learning and getting more of the “masses” jobs has yet to be seen or measured. What are your thoughts?

  • Gabriel Rossi

    Very informative list. I’m doctoring studying classics, latim comedy, it’s very hard to find a good job as prof., but there are translations and revisions works that pay me very well 😉