15 Worst College Majors for a Lucrative Career

Whether the high cost of college is worthwhile often depends on what you study.

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Whether the high cost of college is worthwhile often depends on what you study. It’s true a full-time worker with a bachelor's typically earns about 80% more than someone with only a high school diploma, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. But certain fields are far more likely to lead toward a lucrative career than others. So you need to know what kind of future you can expect from your degree before you borrow the tuition money to get it.

To that end, we analyzed data for 102 popular college majors, focusing on prospects for pay, hiring demand and job satisfaction for each. Workers with the following majors frequently report low starting and mid-career salaries, as well as a low sense of meaning in their post-bachelor work. These majors also are not commonly sought after in recent online job postings and often lead to occupations with lackluster growth expectations.

If you find your favorite subject on this list, don’t fret. We suggest a career path that might work best for each of these fields. After all, seeing the numbers shouldn’t necessarily deter you from studying a subject you’re passionate about, but you’re better off following your dreams with eyes wide open.


Find details on data sources and our ranking methodology at the end of this story.

Stacy Rapacon
Online Editor, Kiplinger.com

Rapacon joined Kiplinger in October 2007 as a reporter with Kiplinger's Personal Finance magazine and became an online editor for Kiplinger.com in June 2010. She previously served as editor of the "Starting Out" column, focusing on personal finance advice for people in their twenties and thirties.

Before joining Kiplinger, Rapacon worked as a senior research associate at b2b publishing house Judy Diamond Associates. She holds a B.A. degree in English from the George Washington University.