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ERIC Number: ED524305
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2011
Pages: 182
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 0
What's It Worth? The Economic Value of College Majors
Carnevale, Anthony P.; Strohl, Jeff; Melton, Michelle
Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce
Over the years, there has been a persistent lack of available information about the economic consequences of choosing one academic major over another. As a result, students have had little financial data on hand to help them choose between majors. No longer. This report finds that different majors have different economic value. While going to college is undoubtedly a wise decision, what students take while they're there matters a lot, too. On average, Bachelor's degree holders earn 84 percent more than those with a high school diploma. However, returns to majors run a wide gamut. At the extreme, the highest earning major earns 314 percent more at the median than the lowest-earning major at the median. Among other things, the authors detail: (1) Median earnings and earnings variation among typical workers (at the 25th and 75th percentiles) for all (not only recent graduates) full-time, full-year workers with a terminal Bachelor's degree; (2) These same earnings information by gender and race/ethnicity; (3) The likelihood that a person with a specific major will obtain a graduate degree and the subsequent earnings return that a graduate degree confers; (4) The pathways between education and work: which occupations and industries employ the most workers with various majors; and (5) Data on labor market attachment (employment and work status) by specific undergraduate major. In the summary of findings, the authors give an overview that compares "all" detailed majors by earnings, gender and racial/ethnic composition, labor force characteristics, and the like. The second section aggregates the 171 majors into 15 major groups. The second section compares earnings and other outcomes across broad major groups. The remaining sections deal in detail with each of the 15 major groups. They compare the majors within these groups, providing information on, for instance, the differences in earnings between a General Business major and an Accounting major. (Contains 42 tables.) [For the companion report, "Selected Findings from What's It Worth? The Economic Value of College Majors," see ED524307.]
Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce. 3300 Whitehaven Street NW Suite 5000 Box 571444, Washington, DC 20057. Tel: 202-687-4922; Fax: 202-687-3110; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Numerical/Quantitative Data; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: Lumina Foundation for Education; Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
Authoring Institution: Georgetown University, Center on Education and the Workforce