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College Majors with the Highest Post-Grad Unemployment

It’s a harsh world outside of university, especially if your major doesn’t directly translate into meaningful employment.

Maybe you were deeply interested in a particular field that doesn’t exactly bring home a paycheck. It is disheartening to find that your passion, whether it be metaphysical philosophy or maybe military history, is not a hot item in today’s job market.

Regardless of what major you chose, the job market is rough for young workers. However, having a college degree definitely helps. Recent graduates experienced an unemployment rate of 4.9 percent in September 2015. In contrast, young workers without a college degree averaged a 10 percent unemployment rate. While having a degree provides a significant advantage in this challenging job market, the type of degree you get makes a difference.

The data scientists at StartClass saved you the guesswork and compiled a list of the college majors with the highest post-graduate unemployment rates. We created this list using data reported by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. These figures, based on 2013-2014 averages, are updated annually using American Community Survey (ACS) results.

For each major, we provide the unemployment rate, the underemployment rate and the median wages for early- and mid-career graduates. In this list, underemployment refers to the percentage of graduates in positions that don’t necessarily require a college degree. A recent college graduate is defined as those aged 22 to 27 with a bachelor’s degree or higher and excludes individuals currently enrolled in school. Mid-career graduates are those aged 25 to 45.

The list of majors with the highest post-grad unemployment rates is ranked from lowest to highest unemployment rates. Any ties were broken using the early career median wage.

10. Political Science 

Unemployment Rate: 7.2 percent
Underemployment Rate: 49.7 percent

Median Wage (Early Career): $38,000
Median Wage (Mid-Career): $70,000

Political science is a social science concerned chiefly with the description and analysis of political and governmental institutions and processes.

9. Ethnic Studies

Unemployment Rate: 7.3 percent
Underemployment Rate: 57.1 percent

Median Wage (Early Career): $32,000
Median Wage (Mid-Career): $60,000

The ethnic studies major, according to The College Board, “examines[s] race and ethnicity, focusing on a comparative and interdisciplinary study of the history and culture of minorities.”

8. English Language

Unemployment Rate: 7.5 percent
Underemployment Rate: 51.7 percent

Median Wage (Early Career): $32,200
Median Wage (Mid-Career): $55,000

The “English language” label includes the “English language and literature” and “composition and speech” majors.

7. Fine Arts

Unemployment Rate: 7.6 percent
Underemployment Rate: 62.3 percent

Median Wage (Early Career): $29,000
Median Wage (Mid-Career): $50,000

Washington State University notes that theirfine arts program provides “interdisciplinary approaches to the practice of art and the study of visual culture.”

6. Art History

Unemployment Rate: 7.8 percent
Underemployment Rate: 58.9 percent

Median Wage (Early Career): $32,000
Median Wage (Mid-Career): $53,000

The University of Utah’s Department of Art and Art History provides a degree program that “trains students to develop historically informed approaches to art and visual culture within the context of an interdisciplinary humanities education.”

5. Earth Sciences

Unemployment Rate: 7.9 percent
Underemployment Rate: 41.8 percent

Median Wage (Early Career): $30,300
Median Wage (Mid-Career): $63,000

Earth science is any of the sciences (geology, meteorology or oceanography) that deal with the earth or with one or more of its parts.

4. Environmental Studies

Unemployment Rate: 8.5 percent
Underemployment Rate: 53.7 percent

Median Wage (Early Career): $30,000
Median Wage (Mid-Career): $60,000

DePaul University’s environmental studies program incorporates “courses in natural sciences, social sciences and humanities, which will provide you with a comprehensive understanding of human interaction with the natural environment, emerging environmental problems and potential solutions.”

3. Mass Media

Unemployment Rate: 8.6 percent
Underemployment Rate: 56.5 percent

Median Wage (Early Career): $31,200
Median Wage (Mid-Career): $56,000

The mass media program at California State University San Marcos states that it “provides students with theoretically-focused and application-based frameworks to understand media, media technology, and its influence upon domestic and global culture and society.”

2. Geography

Unemployment Rate: 8.8 percent
Underemployment Rate: 48.1 percent

Median Wage (Early Career): $34,500
Median Wage (Mid-Career): $60,000

Geography is a science that deals with the description, distribution and interaction of the diverse physical, biological and cultural features of the earth’s surface.

1. Anthropology

Unemployment Rate: 8.8 percent
Underemployment Rate: 59.1 percent

Median Wage (Early Career): $30,000
Median Wage (Mid-Career): $50,000

Anthropology is the study of human beings and their ancestors through time and space in relation to physical character, environmental and social relations, and culture.

Cross-posted from Graphiq.

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