Worth It

Apparently what people study in college matters for their future earnings. According to an article by Peter Whoriskey in the Washington Post:

Over a lifetime, the earnings of workers who have majored in engineering, computer science or business are as much as 50 percent higher than the earnings of those who major in the humanities, the arts, education and psychology, according to an analysis by researchers at Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce.

According to the study, the median annual earnings for someone with a bachelor’s degree in engineering was $75,000. The median wage was $47,000 in the humanities, $44,000 in the arts and $42,000 in education or in psychology.

This is apparently the first time that anyone has directly connected college majors to lifetime earnings.

This is interesting but it shouldn’t surprise, or worry, anyone. “I don’t want to slight Shakespeare,” said Anthony Carnevale, one of the authors of the study. “But this study slights Shakespeare.”

Not really. There’s nothing wrong with majoring in the humanities. Merely earning less is not something to avoid. If the study had demonstrated that the median annual earnings for someone with a bachelor’s degree in the humanities was $23,000, that would be cause for alarm. But $47,000 a year is perfectly acceptable.

Read the report here.

Washington Monthly - Donate today and your gift will be doubled!

Support Nonprofit Journalism

If you enjoyed this article, consider making a donation to help us produce more like it. The Washington Monthly was founded in 1969 to tell the stories of how government really works—and how to make it work better. Fifty years later, the need for incisive analysis and new, progressive policy ideas is clearer than ever. As a nonprofit, we rely on support from readers like you.

Yes, I’ll make a donation

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer