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Best and Worst Liberal Arts Majors for Your Career

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Liberal arts studies, in general, get a bad rap when it comes to career utility. But the rumors are only partly true. Yes, the median annual income for liberal arts majors is about 8% less than it is for all majors, according to Emsi, a labor-market research firm owned by Strada Education. And STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and math) are well represented among our rankings for best college majors for a lucrative career, which are based on demand and typical pay for workers with each degree.

But liberal arts majors are hardly destined for unending unemployment and empty bank accounts. In fact, their median income is more than a third greater than that of a worker with just a high school diploma, helping prove they are not such useless degrees after all. Indeed, plenty of employers highly value the skills learned from earning a liberal arts degrees, such as creative thinking, problem solving, critical analysis and communication. Even Shark Tank investor Mark Cuban told Bloomberg in 2017 that such skills will be increasingly prized in the job market. That’s because, he said, as automation and artificial intelligence continues to absorb more work, businesses will look to their human employees to take on more thoughtful responsibilities, as well as more high-skill tasks. “I personally think there’s going to be greater demand in 10 years for liberal arts majors than there are for programming majors and maybe even engineering,” he said.

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To determine which majors typically come with the best hiring prospects and pay, we studied the data for 102 popular college majors. We looked for courses of study that tend to lead to fat paychecks—both right out of school and further along your career path. We also sought out majors that are in high demand based on recent online job postings as well as long-term growth expectations for related occupations. Plus, we factored in the percentage of workers with given degrees who feel their jobs have a positive impact on the world. Here is how all the liberal arts majors included in our analysis ranked, from best to worst.

SEE ALSO: 15 Worst College Majors for a Lucrative Career

Find details on data sources and our ranking methodology at the end of this story.

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