14 College Majors That Make the Most Money

14 College Majors That Make the Most Money

10 minute read

Selecting a major is a big decision that will likely affect your future income. Most college students know they want to make money when they graduate but must balance that with pursuing their passions.

Let’s take a look at some of the majors that are likely to help you get a lucrative career. Perhaps you’ll find something that speaks to both your interests and your desire to earn a good living.

Why Do Some Majors Lead to More Lucrative Careers?

Generally, those who find themselves making a lucrative income after they graduate from college have majored in a field where there’s a high demand for new talent in the workforce. There’s currently a high demand for computer programmers, for example, due to the growing popularity of artificial intelligence. Many companies are willing to pay top dollar for talented programmers.

Other industries, like healthcare, business, and STEM, will always have a steady need for recent college graduates with up-to-the-minute skills and knowledge of the field. 

While no major is guaranteed to land you a 6-figure job straight out of school, certain majors that prepare you for these industries will give you the education you need to jump into an in-demand position and have a leg up in your job search.

14 Majors That Make the Most Money

Choosing a major shouldn’t always be about how much money you think you can make when you graduate. However, if you have an interest in one of the fields listed below, you might consider a major that would be more likely to help prepare you to get the job.

Majoring in one of these fields is nearly always a good idea anyway a lot of the classes you take and skills you learn can be applied to a variety of industries once you graduate. For example, majoring in business doesn’t always mean you’ll become the CEO of a global corporation. It can also help you in careers like healthcare administration or public relations by teaching you organizational skills.

As you consider your major, keep in mind that they’re not all exactly the same across colleges and universities. They might have different names or different course requirements. The most important thing when choosing a major is learning valuable skills — and enjoying yourself while doing it.

STEM Majors

STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. These disciplines emphasize critical thinking and problem-solving skills that are easily transferable to almost any other field. On this path, you’ll learn how to do important research, create relevant experiments, and how to handle large amounts of data.

More specific majors and potential jobs in STEM include the following:

1. Chemical Engineering

As a chemical engineering major, you’ll study science and math. A chemical engineer's role is to create efficient, safe, and sustainable solutions and contribute to advancements in pharmaceuticals, energy, materials science, and many other industries. Choose this major if you want to help meet the global demand for safer, more efficient processes.

Current chemical engineer mid-range salary estimate as of 2023: $95,045

Common courses to get started: 

2. Computer Science

Computer science majors will develop a deep knowledge of computer coding languages, artificial intelligence, and other cutting-edge technologies. Computer scientists work in a range of fields depending on their interests and specializations. These might include cybersecurity, data analysis, machine learning, or software engineering.

Current computer scientist mid-range salary estimates as of 2023: $111,645

Common courses to get started: 

3. Information Technology (IT)

IT majors study the practical applications of technology, usually specifically how it’s used for business. Unlike computer science majors, with IT, you’ll usually learn more of the hands-on applications of STEM. Upon graduation, IT professionals focus on implementing and maintaining technology systems to meet business needs.

Current IT professional mid-range salary estimates as of 2023: $104,804

Common courses to get started: 

4. Aeronautics

A major in aeronautics requires you to learn the principles of physics and materials science. Those who study aeronautics usually become aerospace engineers who create efficient vehicles, collaborating with multidisciplinary teams. Engineers test prototypes for reliability and adherence to standards. They must adapt to technological advancements in space exploration and aviation.

Current aerospace engineer mid-range salary estimates as of 2023: $104,702

Common courses to get started: 

Business Majors

A major in business will give you a deep understanding of business practices across the global economy, including political, ethical, and legal issues. An education in business will give you the knowledge and skills that employers want, as well as skills that can be applied across a wide range of industries and roles. This will allow you to apply your education, enhance your experience, and even combine your passions in almost any field.

These are just some of the more specific majors and jobs you can consider when studying business:

5. Business Operations Research

A business operations research major studies methods of organizational efficiency and decision-making. They delve into data analytics to optimize and improve business processes. Upon graduation, a business operations research professional will work with various departments within a company to increase efficiency, possibly developing new systems to streamline operations.

Current business operations researcher mid-range salary estimates as of 2023: $101,453

Common courses to get started: 

6. Business Analytics

Business analytics is the assessment and optimization of organizational processes. You’ll need to study both the technical and business aspects of organizations so you can act as a go-between for various departments. Unlike business operations research, this field usually requires more data analytics and hands-on work within a company.

Current business analyst mid-range salary estimates as of 2023: $95,472

Common courses to get started: 

  • Business Administration
  • Computer Science

Healthcare & Pre-Med Majors

People will always get sick or hurt and will, therefore, always need doctors, nurses, and other healthcare workers. And all those healthcare workers need administrators to help run the offices and manage hospitals or clinics. That’s why a major related to healthcare is almost always a good idea. Here are some healthcare-related majors to consider.

7. Biology

Biology encompasses a wide range of topics, including molecular and cellular processes within living organisms. Coursework may cover anatomy, microbiology, and biochemistry. Biology majors sometimes go on to pursue advanced degrees in pharmacology, exploring the interactions between drugs and living organisms. 

Current pharmacist mid-range salary estimates as of 2023: $122,044

Common courses to get started: 

8. Nursing

Registered nurses (RNs) need comprehensive knowledge of patient care and medical terminology because they often collaborate with healthcare teams, educate patients on managing illnesses, and offer emotional support. To become an RN, your education will include coursework in anatomy, physiology, and pharmacology. RNs can further specialize by pursuing additional certifications or advanced degrees. 

Current RN mid-range salary estimates as of 2023: $90,901

Common courses to get started: 

9. Healthcare Administration

For those who enjoy the field of medicine but aren’t interested in becoming a doctor, nurse, or other medical professional, consider a major in healthcare administration. This role combines business and patient care. Your major should cover principles of management, finance, and ethics. Strong leadership and communication skills are essential for navigating the complex healthcare environment. 

Current healthcare administrator mid-range salary estimates as of 2023: $91,822

Common courses to get started: 

Politics & Government

Majoring in politics or government offers a pathway to a range of meaningful careers where you can make a positive impact on society. If you’re fascinated by the intricacies of political systems or want a fulfilling career in the field of social justice, consider one of these majors:

10. Political Economics

A political economics major learns how to analyze the connections between political and economic systems and will spend time researching how government policies impact economic outcomes. Your education will include learning strong analytical skills for assessing policy implications and understanding economic trends. Political economists shape public policy discussions on the complexities of global and domestic economic systems.

Current political economist mid-range salary estimates as of 2023: $105,000

Common courses to get started: 

11. International Relations

A degree in international relations opens up various career paths, allowing you to work around the world in a variety of fields. This major is ideal for someone who loves domestic and international policies but wants to specialize in a particular area, like law or economics. Some common careers to consider include:

  • Working with NGOs as an international development specialist
  • A global intelligence analyst
  • An international policy analyst
  • An international lawyer

Current policy analyst mid-range salary estimates as of 2023: $92,550

Common courses to get started: 

Liberal Arts, Social Sciences, & the Humanities

Liberal arts, social sciences, and humanities encompass diverse disciplines like literature, philosophy, history, and the arts. For those interested in exploring human experiences, cultures, and ideas, consider one of these majors for their broad intellectual foundations. You’ll gain skills in analysis, creativity, and effective communication — qualities valued in various professions.

12. Economics

Economics majors delve into the study of economic systems, principles, and policies. You’ll explore topics like microeconomics, which focuses on individual markets and behavior, and macroeconomics, which analyzes national and global economic trends. Upon graduation, you’ll have skills in data analysis, critical thinking, and problem-solving. Econ majors usually pursue careers such as financial analysts or management consultants.

Current management consultant mid-range salary estimates as of 2023: $94,022

Common courses to get started: 

13. Architecture

An architecture major involves the comprehensive study of designing and planning built environments. Among your courses, you’ll learn about architectural history and theory, including design principles. Graduates will have proficiency in architectural software and gain hands-on experience with model-making and drafting. This major emphasizes critical thinking, problem-solving, and effective communication in conveying design concepts. Architecture majors often become architects or urban planners.

Current architect mid-range salary estimates as of 2023: $131,322

Common courses to get started: 

  • Introduction to Architecture
  • Principles of Modern Architecture

14. Public Relations

A public relations major delves into the strategic communication and management of information between organizations and their audiences. The major emphasizes cultivating strong writing and interpersonal skills, strategic thinking, and adaptability in navigating diverse communication channels. Graduates often pursue careers as public relations specialists or media relations managers.

Current media relations manager mid-range salary estimates as of 2023: $107,880

Common courses to get started: 

Accelerate Your Major With StraighterLine

StraighterLine has courses that can help you with almost any college major, and the credits you earn are transferable to over 150 partner schools. Take a look at our full list of courses, or get inspired by our Career Paths page today!

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