Search Our Online Directory

Bad College Majors

 It is important to identify the college majors that might put you into a combination of low compensation and high unemployment.

Data from the Center on Education and the Workforce (CEW) at Georgetown University and American Community Surveys (ACS) from both 2009 and 2010 show that a student's choice of a college major can have a tremendous impact on their overall employment prospects and their lifetime earnings potential. Although the situation has sometimes been summed up as "what you make depends on what you take," that little rhyme is far more accurate than many young people might think, as so many American teens in college take only the classes that interest them, without thinking about what the long-term employment realities might actually be for certain academic pursuits. 

Realizing that the choice of a college major can substantially affect your employment prospects and earnings is an undeniable reality these days, as certain college majors sometimes have more trouble in the labor force than workers who stopped studying after high school. As far as trends go, the data shows that while the arts and humanities may be interesting and entertaining, artistic majors are often terrible for your bank account. When one considers the time and expense of earning a college degree at today's high prices, forewarned is forearmed when it comes to identifying the college majors that can thrust you into a combination of low compensation and high unemployment. This is why it is extremely important to know if your choice of college major has the potential to improve your employment prospects and paycheck size, or if it is likely to result in an opposite scenario. An analysis of the jobless rates and salaries for graduates with the most common majors sheds new light on those that represent the worst values. Here is a look at several college majors that jumped out of the statistics columns and into the category of career-killers. The results include average unemployment rates, recent graduate employment rates, median salaries, median salaries for recent grads, and the unpleasant likelihood of ending up working in retail sales instead of in the chosen field of study. A retail ratio of 1.0 is considered normal and a ratio of 2.0 means a graduate is twice as likely to end up working in retail. Consideration of all the elements combined shows the following nine majors to be bad choices in general for a college student today:

Major - Anthropology
Unemployment rate: 6.9%
Recent grad employment rate: 10.5%
Median salary: $40,000
Median salary for recent grads: $28,000
Likelihood of working retail: 2.1 over average

Major - Fine Arts
Unemployment rate: 7.4%
Unemployment rate for recent grads: 12.6%
Median salary: $44,000
Median salary for recent grads: $30,000
Likelihood of working retail: 1.8 over average

Major - Film and Photography
Unemployment rate: 7.3%
Unemployment rate for recent grads: 12.9%
Median salary: $45,000
Median salary for recent grads: $30,000
Likelihood of working retail: 2.6 over average

Major - Philosophy and Religious Studies
Unemployment rate: 7.2%
Unemployment rate for recent grads: 10.8%
Median salary: $42,000
Median salary for recent grads: $30,000
Likelihood of working retail: 2.0 over average

Major - Graphic Design
Unemployment rate: 8.1%
Unemployment rate for recent grads: 11.8%
Median salary: $45,000
Median salary for recent grads: $32,000
Likelihood of working retail: 0.6 over average

Major - Liberal Arts
Unemployment rate: 7.6%
Unemployment rate for recent grads: 9.2%
Median salary: $48,000
Median salary for recent grads: $30,000
Likelihood of working retail: 1.8 over average

Major - Drama and Theater Arts
Unemployment rate: 7.1%
Unemployment rate for recent grads: 7.8%
Median salary: $40,000
Median salary for recent grads: $26,000
Likelihood of working retail: 2.1 over average

Major - Sociology
Unemployment rate: 7.0%
Unemployment rate for recent grads: 8.6%
Median salary: $45,000
Median salary for recent grads: $32,000
Likelihood of working retail: 1.4 over average

Major - English
Unemployment rate: 6.7% 
Unemployment rate for recent grads: 9.2% 
Median salary: $48,000 
Median salary for recent grads: $32,000 
Likelihood of working retail: 1.4 over average
Featured Articles
  • College Freshman Survival Guide​Welcome to your freshman year of college! Everybody you talk to will tell you this will be the best time of your ...
  • Online College Benefits Regardless of where a student lives, they can now study in the field of their choice for a lot less cash thanks to the proliferation of online ...
  • Your Guide to a Great College Experience​What is better than four years of living on your own, having no real responsibilities, and being stuck on a campus with more hot girls than ...
  • What to Know as a College Freshman​Your freshman year at college will be nothing short of a major adjustment. You are leaving your friends, your family, your hometown, everything ...
  • Preparing A Student For The SAT and ACT​One of the most definitive events in a student’s academic career is completing the college entrance ...
  • How to Choose the Right College MajorThe main goal of completing a college degree for anyone is to eventually gain a successful and financially stable ...
  • Fashion Trends for Young Adults​Whether you are planning your trip to a university for the year or if you are getting ready for an upcoming job interview, finding clothes for ...
  • Online Dating WebsitesOnline dating websites have come a long way. When I first heard of online dating years ago, it seemed like a strange way to start a ...
  • Synthetic Drug Dangers Teens and young adults across the nation risk permanent brain damage from legal synthetic substitutes for marijuana and ...