College Is Still Worth It (Depending on Major), New Study Shows

Martha C. White
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It still pays to have a college degree, but new research shows the benefit varies depending on the field and level of experience.

Georgetown's Center on Education and the Workforce found that unemployment for college grads was 7.5 percent in 2012, a bit better than the roughly 10 percent unemployment rate for experienced workers with no degree. Recent graduates with majors in nearly every subject fared better than this, with the exception of architecture and social sciences.

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The unemployment rate for recent bachelors degree holders in nearly every major has improved, with the exception of communications and journalism majors, whose 8.2 percent unemployment rate is still rising, while unemployment for health majors has plateaued at around 6 percent.

For experienced workers, unemployment is highest for those with undergraduate degrees in the arts, architecture and social work. Experienced graduate degree holders weathered job losses better than others in nearly all cases.

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While the report predicts a full employment recovery could take until 2017, it could take longer for earnings to bounce back. Although the wage premium a college degree confers is still intact, that's only because less-educated workers have seen their earnings slide, as well.

"Even in the midst of a lackluster recovery, college degrees have retained their earnings value," the report concludes.