These Are the 25 Lowest Paying College Majors

Most Americans are aware of the benefits offered by a college education: in addition to some of the more intangible benefits, students obtain the knowledge, develop the skills, and make the connections to improve their job prospects. But for many college-aged Americans and their parents, obtaining a higher education is no longer the given it once was. There has been much recent public outcry against the massive levels of debt students incur, and an increasing number of Americans no longer believe it is worth the cost. Even for those who do still choose to go the college route, the importance of paying of debt as soon as possible may have a big impact on the paths freshmen choose to take. Based on recently released data from the US Census Bureau, some college majors may earn far less than others.

To determine the lowest paying college majors, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed data on earnings from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2021 American Community Survey Public Use Microdata Sample files, the most recent available data. Undergraduate college majors were ranked based on the average reported incomes of degree holders in 2021.

When we choose a college major, there are many questions one must consider. Some choose their major based on personal passions for the arts or interest in certain subjects. Some choose a major that focuses on helping people, like special needs education. Other considerations may include future earnings potential. (These are the 30 college majors with higher earnings for Black versus white graduates.)

Both fine arts and special needs education are among the lowest-paying majors because the jobs that these majors prepare students for tend to be low-paying. Many arts-related jobs, including visual, performing, and studio arts, are on this list, alongside teaching jobs, social work, community organization, and other historically low-paying jobs. 

Education majors, however, are dominant in this list. A career as an educator can be highly rewarding, but those choosing to pursue this career, even after a four-year education, should know that the median American public school teacher salary, as of 2023, was $56,026, according to (These are America’s best public high schools.)

Click here to see the lowest paying college majors.

Click here to see our detailed methodology.

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