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African Americans: College Majors and Earnings

African Americans

College Majors and Earnings

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Earnings vary greatly among college majors. While college access has increased among Black/African American individuals, they are overrepresented in majors that lead to low-paying jobs. African Americans: College Majors and Earnings shows that Black/African American individuals, who represent 12 percent of the U.S. population, are underrepresented in the number of college majors associated with the fastest growing, highest-paying occupations.

Key Findings


Architecture and engineering is the major group with the highest median earnings ($66,206) for Black/African American individuals with a Bachelor’s degree.

The highest paying detailed major among Black/African American individuals is pharmacy and pharmaceutical sciences and administration with median earnings at $84,000.

Black/African American individuals represent 7% of STEM majors.

Twenty percent of Black/African American students majored in human services and community organization, which has the second-lowest median earnings at $39,000.


View and download our infographic, which illustrates the prevalence of Black/African American degree holders among the 137 detailed major groups. Find out what the 10 highest and lowest earnings were by major.

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Black/African American Individuals Earnings by College Major: Explore the data on Blacks’ earnings by major and detailed field of study.

Source: Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce analysis of American Community Survey, 2009–2016 (pooled) of bachelor’s degree holders without advanced degrees, age 25-59 working full-time full-year.


Watch this video to get a snapshot of the report findings.


Despite the increase in college access among African Americans, African Americans are highly concentrated in low-paying majors. African Americans: College Majors and Earningsanalyzes 137 detailed majors among African Americans to find that:

  • African Americans only account for 8 percent of general engineering majors, 7 percent of mathematics majors, and 5 percent of computer majors
  • Law and public policy is the top major group for African Americans with a Bachelor’s degree
  • The highest concentrated detailed major among African Americans is in health and medical administration
  • The second lowest-paying major among African American is in human services and community organization with median earnings at $39,000
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