The Most and Least Valuable Degrees in 2012

Every day I write about how important distance learning is. I talk about how it can lead to a degree that can open doors of employment, and start people down new career paths. I mean every word of it. But I do not mean that attending any random school, taking any random classes, and getting any random degree will automatically help someone out.

Philosophy may open your mind, but it won't put money in your pocket. Photo by dakine kane

Philosophy may open your mind, but it won’t put money in your pocket. Photo by dakine kane

Certain degrees are worth money, possibly even a lot of money. Other degrees may have intellectual value, but have no dependable worth out in the open market. That’s what I want to talk about today – which degrees are actually worth money, and which ones are not. This is in no way an indictment of any particular degree: I’m not saying one degree is better than another, I’m here pointing out the return on investment a student can expect from a degree.

According to the National Organization of Colleges and Employers, these are the top ten paying degrees for new college graduates:

  1. Computer Engineering
  2. Chemical Engineering
  3. Computer Science
  4. Aerospace Engineering
  5. Mechanical Engineering
  6. Electrical and Communications Engineering
  7. Civil Engineering
  8. Finance
  9. Construction Science and Management
  10. Information Sciences and Systems

The word for the day is “engineering”. All of these degrees are technology based, except for Finance. The logical conclusion to draw from this information is that science is valuable, and these technical kind of degrees will open up a lot more opportunities for a college grad than the following list.

A 2012 study from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce lists the four degrees with the highest rate of unemployment. Where the majors listed above will give an employee a leg up on the working world, these four degrees provide no security for future employment.

Liberal Arts and Sciences – Historically, this is a degree earned by a lot of people without a specific focus, who just want to get that degree. Liberal Arts course work will be filled with classes on music, history, philosophy, languages, literature, theatre, and soft sciences like psychology and sociology. This degree will give the student a well rounded education with no serviceable real-world skills. Unemployment rate for grads is about nine percent.

Philosophy – Long gone are the days where a philosopher could make a living by philosophizing. These days a degree in philosophy is worth even less than the Liberal Arts degree. It will give the student more of a focus, but the focus is on an area with no marketable value. Unemployment rate is about eleven percent for graduates.

Information Systems – Yes, this was also on the highest paying list. But that listing was for more computer and technical oriented degree. To make money in this field a person needs to study computer engineering or science. Unemployment rate almost twelve percent.

Architecture – This degree lost a lot of value in the last few years with the down turn in the housing market. One day it could make a comeback, but right now this is one to avoid. Unemployment rate for grads is almost fourteen percent.

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One comment on “The Most and Least Valuable Degrees in 2012
  1. David says:

    How could I trust this information with one of the degrees in both lists. Thats a condradiction. Contradictions are used to prove an argument is invalid. The author should study some math and philosphy before making assertions such as this

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