“What’s It Worth? The Economic Value of College Majors” analyzes data from the 2009 American Community Survey, whose results were released last year. It’s the first time the Census asked individuals about their undergraduate majors, enabling researchers to tie in salary data, Carnevale said.
The study found that white men are concentrated in the highest-earning majors, including engineering and pharmaceutical sciences, while women gravitate toward the lowest-earning majors like education, art, and social work.
The report also categorized the 171 majors into 15 fields, discovering different majors led to different industries. About 43 percent of law and public policy majors end up in public administration, but only 13 percent of social science majors do. A higher portion of social science majors end up in finance, researchers found.
• The most popular major group is business, accounting for 25 percent of all students. The least popular are industrial arts and agriculture, with 1.6 percent each.
• White men have higher median earnings across all fields except three. Asians pull down the top median salaries in law and public policy ($55,000), psychology and social work ($48,000), and biology and life science ($53,000).
• The field with the highest concentrations of whites is agriculture and natural resources (90 percent), while the highest concentration of Asians is in computers and mathematics (16 percent). Law and public policy has the highest concentration of African-Americans (14 percent) and Hispanics (10 percent).
• Fields with virtually no unemployment: geological and geophysical engineering, military technologies, pharmacology, and school student counseling.
• Fields with the highest unemployment, ranging from 16 percent to 11 percent: social psychology, nuclear engineering, and educational administration and supervision.