Choose A STEM Major For Best Career Prospects, Study Finds

When it comes to college majors, those in the science, technology, engineering and math fields are most useful as undergraduate degrees, finds a new study from financial site The study analyzed median incomes and unemployment rates for adults with only a bachelor’s degree across 173 different majors.

“When deciding on a college major, it’s important to not only choose something that interests you, but also a field that offers opportunity for employment and earning potential,” said Sarah Berger, founder of, in a press release. “Picking a major is the first step to fulfilling your career aspirations, so be sure to research the job prospects, potential salaries and whether an advanced degree may be necessary to really get ahead.”

Petroleum engineering is the most valuable college major, pulling a median income of $134,840.88 upon graduation and only a 2.38% unemployment rate.


The top five most valuable majors overall:

  • Petroleum Engineering
  • Pharmacy Pharmaceutical Sciences/Administration
  • Geological/Geophysical Engineering
  • Mining/Mineral Engineering
  • Naval Architecture/Marine Engineering

“We found that almost the top 30 majors were in STEM fields,” Berger says. “That’s a bit unsurprising, we know that those are very lucrative fields.”

Who fared the worst? Students with a bachelor’s degree in Clinical Psychology, with an 8.06% unemployment rate and a median income of $43,092.81.

The bottom five majors overall, in terms of value:

  • Studio Arts
  • Human Services/Community Organization
  • Composition/Rhetoric
  • Miscellaneous Fine Arts
  • Clinical Psychology

Other popular but non-STEM majors such as business administration, history, and English all scored in the lower half of the list.

“It’s important to remember that we just looked at bachelor’s degrees,” Berger says. For instance, those pursuing an advanced degree in clinical psychology would certainly fare better in the long term than those with only an undergraduate degree.

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