8 College Degrees with the Worst Return on InvestmentJuly 24, 2012 by William Frierson
What’s more expensive than going to college? Until recently, the answer was easy: not going to college. Numerous studies over the years have shown that individuals with college degrees significantly out-earn those with high school degrees by $1 million or more over the course of a lifetime.
But as the cost of education increases faster than inflation and the economy remains relatively weak, people are beginning to question how they spend their education dollars. As student loans hit the $1 trillion mark and more and more graduates are faced with years of paying staggering monthly payments, many are starting to ask themselves, “Is it worth it?”
While there’s no doubt that a college degree increases earning power and broadens opportunities, today’s high cost of education means it makes sense to more carefully consider which degree you earn. When it comes to return on investment (ROI), not all degrees are considered equal. This article exposes eight college degrees with poor ROI.
To calculate ROI for a specific degree, we first determined the overall cost of the degree. We allowed the degree holder four years to graduate. Using data from a recent College Board study, we assigned a figure of $37,343 as an average cost of a four-year public liberal arts degree, and a figure of $121,930 for degrees earned at four-year private colleges. The total cost included tuition, room and board, and books, and did not factor in scholarships or grants. We then determined the median cash compensation over the course of 30 years of typical jobs requiring that degree using Salary.com data. We used current Salary.com figures, but added 4.3% per year to account for inflation and cost of living increases. To determine ROI, we subtracted the cost of the degree from the gains over 30 years, then divided that figure by cost.
People who enter the field of sociology generally are interested in helping their fellow man. Unfortunately, that kind of benevolence doesn’t usually translate to wealth. Here are three jobs commonly held by sociology majors (click on job title and/or salary for more info):
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