Hard Times: College Majors, Unemployment and Earnings: Not All College Degrees Are Created Equal

Released: January 4, 2012

Anthony P. Carnevale — Ban Cheah — Jeff Strohl 

 Full Report | Press Release | Media Coverage

Much attention has been devoted to the 9 percent unemployment among recent college graduates, leading some to conclude that college is no longer worth it. In Hard Times, we argue that college remains the best alternative for young workers with one caveat: Not all majors are created equal. Some majors offer substantially better employment prospects than others. 

Hard TimesHere are some of our major findings: 

1. Choice of major substantially affects employment prospects and earnings.

2. People who make technology are better off than people who use technology.

3. In general, majors that are linked to occupations have better employment prospects than majors focused on general skills. But, some occupation specific majors, such as Architecture, were hurt by the recession and fared worse than general skills majors.

4. For many, pursuing a graduate degree may be the best option until the economy recovers. But, not all graduate degrees outperform all BA’s on employment.

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