For all the concern these days about whether a college degree is still a good investment, bachelor’s-degree recipients fare much better in the job market than do their less-educated peers. But not all college graduates do equally well—and the variation is linked to what they studied. Engineers? Good starting salaries. Arts, life-sciences, psychology, or recreation majors? Not so much.
The idea that a major makes a difference in career outcomes has been a dominant theme in the work of Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce in recent years. In a report released on Wednesday, the center updates its analysis of how unemployment and earnings vary.
“It matters what you major in, and it matters if you get a graduate degree,” Anthony P. Carnevale, the center’s director, said in an interview. It’s “the same point we make over and over again, I’m afraid,” he said.
The center seized upon newly available data from the U.S. Census Bureau to capture for the first time in 2011 the variation in earnings and employment rate by major. It followed up with another analysis last year.
The new report, “Hard Times: College Majors, Unemployment and Earnings,” is based on census data from 2010 and 2011. It considers the employment outcomes of college graduates age 22 to 26, making comparisons to experienced graduates (age 30 to 54) and graduate-degree holders—those age 30 to 54 with at least a master’s degree. <Read more.>