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Here's How Much Money You'll Make in Your Lifetime, Based on Your College Major


As college freshmen step on to their campuses for the first time, they have many questions. Where is my dorm? What’s the social scene like? And for many, what major can make the most money? Turns out, you may have been able to guess the answer: engineering, computer science, physics and finance.

That’s the finding of a new report released Monday by the Hamilton Project that calculated the projected lifetime earnings for graduates with 80 different majors. At the top of the list are engineers of all kinds—civil, mechanical, chemical, aerospace, industrial—who all have median lifetime earnings of around $2 million. Graduates with majors in finance, economics, computer science and physics followed close behind at around $1.5 million. On the other end, the results were not surprising either. Graduates with degrees in early childhood education, social work, drama and theatre arts and other music majors all have median lifetime earnings below $1 million.

The Hamilton study also tracked the projected lifetime earnings for graduates at different levels of the income spectrum. For instance, an economics graduate at the 20th percentile would earn $750,000 over their lifetime. As Jordan Weissmann points out at Slate, while an engineering degree on average is a better investment than an economics degrees, graduates further up the income spectrum are better off with an economics degree than an engineering one. For instance, at the 95th percentile, engineering graduates make around $5 million. For graduates at the 95th percentile with a degree in economics, it’s more than $7 million.

Check out the median lifetime earnings for all 80 majors:

Hamilton Project
The Hamilton Project