Study: The Risk of Unemployment Varies Widely by College Major

A recent report indicates that majoring in engineering and the sciences can help prevent joblessness.

Posted: 01/04/2012 03:01 PM EST
The Risk of Unemployment Varies Widely by College Major BET National photos

The risk of unemployment for college graduates can vary widely based on academic major.


According to a study conducted by the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce, an independent, nonprofit research and policy institute, unemployment stands at a relatively low 5.4 percent for recent graduates in engineering, education and health care. For graduates who majored in psychology and social work, the unemployment rate was 7.3 percent.


Overall, the study finds, the unemployment rate for recent college graduates with bachelor’s degrees has been running at 8.9 percent, comparable with the national average.

The report further indicated that graduate degrees are even more effective in gaining work. It said that the overall unemployment rate for people with graduate degrees stands at 3 percent.

Additionally, with the exception of the fields of arts and education, where pay traditionally has been low, workers with graduate degrees average between $60,000 and $100,000 per year, compared to a range of $48,000 and $62,000 for workers with bachelor’s degrees.


Education experts contacted by BET.com believe that the data about majors and employment prospects points to added difficulty among African-American college graduates, who tend to select majors in liberal arts more than they do in the sciences or engineering.

Still, the report said, college graduates, no matter what their major, are less likely to experience joblessness than the job seekers who have no more than a high school education.

In fact, it found that the unemployment rate among job seekers with no more than a high school diploma stands at 22.9 percent. Furthermore, the unemployment rate among people who have dropped out of high school is 31.5 percent, the report said.

Researchers point out that that the overall unemployment rate for Black Americans stands at about 15 percent, nearly double the national average. As a result, they said the figures for Black job seekers with only a high school education, as well as those who had dropped out of high school, could only be staggering.



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(Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

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