STEM majors top list of most valuable college degrees, analysis shows

By Mariah Medina - Digital Journalist

It pays to be an engineering buff, according to a new analysis of U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey data.

Bankrate, a group that advises people on their personal finances, ranked more than 160 majors based on the median annual income, unemployment rate and career paths that don't demand more than a bachelor's degree for each major.

RELATED: These college majors are least valuable, according to financial experts

The data shows overwhelmingly that college majors with a focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics come with high pay and low unemployment rates.

Three of the five most valuable college majors deal with engineering, according to Bankrate. 

Rank Degree Median income Unemployment Rate Higher degree holders
1 Naval architecture and marine engineering $90,000  1.6%  29%
2 Nuclear Engineering $98,100  1.8%  56%
3 Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences and Administration $100,000  2.2%  58%
4 Genetics $85,000  1.2%  76%
5 Electrical Engineering $99,000  2.7%  46%

 

The full ranking of 162 college majors shows eight of the top 10 also deal with engineering.

According to Bankrate, analysts looked at "weighted data to analyze what bachelor’s degree holders who were either employed or unemployed entered as their first major and (their) income for the past 12 months."

The group looked at labor forces consisting of at least 15,000 people, according to its methodology summary.

A review of all majors set the benchmark at a median income of $55,000 and an average unemployment rate of 2.8% with 37% of all majors seeking a higher degree. 

The full ranking can be found on the Bankrate website.

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