10 Worst-Paying College Majors

By Dan Fastenberg

You probably already know college grads have an easier time finding jobs, and earn more those who only have a high school diploma. But that's not the whole story. Some college majors offer a much worse return on investment, with starting salaries that are no better than high school grads' pay, according to a new study released Wednesday. The study, conducted by the Georgetown University Center on Education and The Workforce, looked at 2010 and 2011 salaries and unemployment rates among college grads between the ages of 22 and 26. The startling conclusion: Some majors have starting salaries no better than the average salary of a high school grad, which is about $29,900 a year, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

Low Pay And High Unemployment: The worst paying majors tended to be in the arts, where the low pay in creative work is matched by high unemployment rates, with an overall average of 9% unemployment for arts majors. The overall unemployment for all recent grads is 7.9%. Several arts disciplines, however, lead to double digit unemployment, according to the study. That doesn't mean those who major in those fields are worse off in every way. In fact, as Forbes has reported, studies of college graduates show that liberal arts majors are "are as satisfied or more satisfied with their lives as their classmates in other disciplines."

Interestingly, however, several majors in technical fields have high unemployment rates, despite relatively high salaries.

Below are the 10 worst-paying majors, with average starting salaries and unemployment rates. (See also the 10 highest paying college majors.)

10. Film, Video and Photographic Arts

Starting Salary: $30,000.

Unemployment Rate: 6.5%.

9. Hospitality

Starting Salary: $30,000.

Unemployment Rate: 6.0%.

8. Criminal Justice / Fire Protection

Starting Salary: $30,000.

Unemployment Rate: 8.9%.

7. Psychology

Starting Salary: $30,000.

Unemployment Rate: 9.2%.

6. Philosophy/Religious Studies

Starting Salary: $29,000.

Unemployment Rate: 9.5%.

5.Social Work

Starting Salary: $29,000.

Unemployment Rate: 8.2%.

4. Fine Arts

Starting Salary: $29,000.

Unemployment Rate: 10.1%.

3. Physical Fitness / Parks Recreation

Starting Salary: $29,000.

Unemployment Rate: 5.2%.

2. Anthropology / Archaeology

Starting Salary: $27,000.

Unemployment Rate: 12.6%.

1. Drama / Theater

Starting Salary: $25,000.

Unemployment Rate: 6.4%.

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