Top 10 Best and Worst College Degrees in 2010

What are the best and worst college majors for students who want to make the highest starting salaries?

Engineering students dominate the best college majors by salary. Engineering majors represent eight out of 10 highest-paying bachelor’s degrees. The other two disciplines in the top 10 best college degrees are computer science and information sciences and systems.

The best-paying college major is petroleum engineering, which offers college graduates average salaries of $86,220.  Less than 1% of undergraduates receive a degree in petroleum engineering, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers’ latest salary survey.

In contrast, degree programs that represent the worst college degrees by salary largely require little or no math skills.

Here are the top 10 best college majors by salary:

College major                                                Average starting salary

  • Petroleum engineering                                  $86,220
  • Chemical engineering                                    $65,142
  • Mining & Mineral Engineering                     $64,552
  • Computer science                                             $61,205
  • Computer Engineering                                    $60,879
  • Electrical/Electronic Engineering                 $59,074
  • Mechanical engineering                                   $58,392
  • Industrial/Manufacturing Engineering        $57,734
  • Aerospace/Aeronautical Engineering            $57,231

Here are the top 10 worst college majors by salary:

  • Secondary education                                     $37,439
  • Liberals & sciences/General studies            $34,996
  • Political science/Government                        $33,297
  • Communications/Journalism                        $32,193
  • Health & Related Sciences                                    $30,522
  • Psychology                                                            $29,749
  • Elementary teacher education                        $29,749
  • Sociology                                                            $29,031
  • Biological science/Life sciences                        $28,664

“While a variety of factors play a role in determining salaries, new graduates with degrees in the technical fields tend to benefit from their relatively low supply. There is more competition for their skills, driving up their salary offers,” says Marilyn Mackes, NACE executive director.

Lynn O’Shaughnessy is the author of The College Solution, an Amazon bestseller, and she also write a college blog for CBSMoneyWatch.

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2 Responses to Top 10 Best and Worst College Degrees in 2010

  1. ConcernedBrowser October 11, 2010 at 8:51 pm #

    This list is simply preposterous. Such a generalized range of credential, with engineering covering every top spot. This is followed by a trite list of mostly liberal arts majors. Though there is some truth to this selection, I would not take this list with baseless salaries too seriously.

  2. Lynn O'Shaughnessy January 26, 2011 at 3:36 pm #

    Thanks for visiting my blog. Yes, I’ve got tons of blog posts. I’ve been writing about college on this blog since the summer of 2008. Next time visit and stay awhile!

    Lynn O’Shaughnessy

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