While the labor market is strong and college grads are still more employable — and earn more — than their high-school counterparts, the choice of major, and degree, goes a long way toward determining how hirable you will be.
A bachelor’s degree in mathematics gives students the highest chances to secure a job right after graduation, followed by BAs in chemistry, history and music, according to a recent study by ProWritingAid, based on data from the U.S. Department of Education and college degree programs nationwide.
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To be sure, employability is not the same as earning potential, the report noted.
“More often than not, graduates are faced with choosing between a safe degree that gives higher chances of getting a job straightaway or a degree that, if it results in employment, can earn them a good salary within a few years,” a spokesperson for ProWritingAid said.
The study’s findings included:
- Of the math majors, graduates from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore were the highest paid just starting out, earning a median salary of $70,019 in the first year and $101,777 by their third year after graduation.
- Alternatively, the highest-paid chemistry graduates hailed from public universities. Graduates with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from San Francisco State University have a median salary of $60,594 three years after graduating.
- For history majors, Rice University, in Houston, offers the highest earning prospects, with a median salary of $61,295 three years after graduation.
- Music graduates from Stephen F. Austin State University had the highest median salaries — $45,138 — followed by West Texas A&M University and North Dakota State University.
When it comes to best-paying majors, the top 10 areas of study are all related to engineering — with the exception of computer science, according to the New York Federal Reserve’s recent report of salaries for college graduates.
Just out of college, computer science majors are likely to be the highest paid, earning $75,900 on average, followed by engineering graduates, the National Association of Colleges and Employers also found.
After adding in considerations such as job satisfaction and stress level, among other factors, then students who focused on computer science, business, engineering and health administration felt the most satisfied with their choice of concentration, according to a separate study by jobs marketplace ZipRecruiter.
It was the college students who majored in English, education, communications, biological sciences and law that said they regretted it the most, according to ZipRecruiter’s survey of more than 5,000 college graduates.
Throughout the pandemic, more students questioned the value of a college degree and if a four-year program was worth it, considering the sky-high costs and student loan debt.
The College Transparency Act, which passed in the House, aims to make it easier for families to measure the return on investment and how it translates to job opportunities and salaries down the road.
The Senate version of the bill is sponsored by Sens. Bill Cassidy R-La.; Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.; Tim Scott, R-S.C.; and Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I.
Meanwhile, many private groups, including The Princeton Review, have also come up with their own measures for ranking schools based on value, considering cost, including tuition and room and board, as well as financial aid, academic offerings, career placement services, graduation rates, alumni salary and overall student debt.