What is the ROI of a College Degree?

by Lynn Viesti Berube

Attention high school grads: are you heading off to college in the fall but not quite sure what you want to study?

You are not alone.

According to recent statistics, as many as 80 percent of college freshman walk onto campus for the first time without having chosen a major. Moreover, upwards of 50 percent of those who do choose a major early end up switching majors at some point—often two, three, or even four times!

This article will give you several of the most rewarding majors in terms of return on investment (ROI), in order to help guide you in a smart direction financially, and can also show you what you can do with each degree. After all, college is expensive—why not make the most of it!

Without further ado, here are five of the best majors to consider in terms of ROI:

  • Economics

Pardon the bad pun, but economics majors really are getting an “economic” college education. The ROI of an economics degree from a public university is 182 percent—the highest on this list!  In terms of actual jobs and salaries, the median income for a corporate economist is over $115,000, while the average salary for an investment operations manager is nearly $143,000. Economics majors may see sustained job growth in this sector going forward.

  • Information Technology

Few industries are growing at a faster rate than IT, and that trend should continue through at least the next decade as mobile networks continue to expand, and healthcare IT becomes more prevalent. IT majors possess a skill-set that can be utilized in many facets of business.  The ROI for IT majors can range anywhere from 126 percent for web application developers (a position with incredible demand), to 169 percent for IT managers.

  • Math

According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook, math majors may have a tremendous number of opportunities available to them once they graduate. Math occupations are expected to grow by 28 percent over the next decade, and any position that requires complex computation likely requires a math major. From accounts payable/receivable managers to actuaries, many math majors earn well over 100 percent ROI with their degree.

  • Engineering

The last two majors on this list comprise the fastest growing set of majors across college campuses. Over the last five years, science and engineering degrees grew by over 19 percent (compared to 9 percent among other majors). The world simply needs more engineers, whether it’s electrical engineers (median salary of $92,000), civil engineers ($82,000) or chemical engineers ($76,000).

  • Biology

While behavioral science has seen a staggering 89 percent growth over the last five years to pace the sciences discipline, biology is the much better long term investment for students. The average salary for a behavioral science major is just $34,000—well below jobs that are available to those with a biology degree—such as health and safety supervisor ($72,000), clinical research associate ($72,000), and laboratory manager ($85,000). All three of those positions offer an ROI in excess of 100 percent.

For more advice on how to get the most out of your college education, stop by any office of The Milford Bank!