13 Most Useful College Majors: Nursing, Math, and More (PHOTOS)

With graduation around the corner, The Daily Beast calculates which college majors pack the greatest promise for real-life wages. From the expected (finance!) to the surprising (foreign language?), see our top picks.

Landov (top left); Corbis (2); AP Photo (bottom right)

Landov (top left); Corbis (2); AP Photo (bottom right)

The last few years haven’t been easy for recent college graduates. Cast into a deep economic recession and bogged down with record levels of college debt, they have faced challenges unlike any other previous generation. So earlier this week, The Daily Beast unveiled the most useless college majors, to show which college diplomas have the least value according to job opportunity and earnings statistics.

Of course, the obvious silver lining is that certain majors are statistically more useful than the less-promising counterparts. To determine the majors that, in general, lead to less unemployment and higher earnings, and which are in industries projected to grow in the next decade, we referred to research from Georgetown University that charted two years of census data to determine the likelihood of positive financial returns in relation to college majors. We also utilized data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics about employment projections. Each of these five data points was weighted equally:

  • Recent graduate employment
  • Experienced graduate employment
  • Recent graduate earnings
  • Experienced graduate employment
  • Projected growth in total number of jobs, 2010-20

Marko Georgiev, The Record / MCT / Landov

1. Nursing

Unemployment, recent grad: 4.0%

Unemployment, experienced grad: 1.9%

Earnings, recent grad: $48,000

Earnings, experienced grad: $64,000

Projected growth, 2010-2020: 26%

Related occupation: Registered Nurse

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

2. Mechanical Engineering

Unemployment, recent grad: 8.6%

Unemployment, experienced grad: 3.8%

Earnings, recent grad: $58,000

Earnings, experienced grad: $86,000

Projected growth, 2010-2020: 4%

Related occupation: Mechanical Engineering Technician

Andreas Rentz / Getty Images

3. Electrical Engineering

Unemployment, recent grad: 7.3%

Unemployment, experienced grad: 5.2%

Earnings, recent grad: $57,000

Earnings, experienced grad: $90,000

Projected growth, 2010-2020: 6%

Related occupation: Electrical and Electronics Engineers

Gaetan Bally, Keystone / Corbis

4. Civil Engineering

Unemployment, recent grad: 8.1%

Unemployment, experienced grad: 4.5%

Earnings, recent grad: $50,000

Earnings, experienced grad: $81,000

Projected growth, 2010-2020: 12%

Related occupation: Civil Engineer

Jared Leeds / Corbis

5. Computer Science

Unemployment, recent grad: 7.8%

Unemployment, experienced grad: 5.6%

Earnings, recent grad: $50,000

Earnings, experienced grad: $81,000

Projected growth, 2010-2020: 18%

Related occupation: IT Managers

Bloomberg / Getty Images

6. Finance

Unemployment, recent grad: 6.6%

Unemployment, experienced grad: 5.2%

Earnings, recent grad: $44,000

Earnings, experienced grad: $72,000

Projected growth, 2010-2020: 23%

Related occupation: Financial Analysts

AFP / Getty Images

7. Marketing and Marketing Research

Unemployment, recent grad: 7.3%

Unemployment, experienced grad: 6.0%

Earnings, recent grad: $37,000

Earnings, experienced grad: $65,000

Projected growth, 2010-2020: 41%

Related occupation: Market Research Analysts

Bob Daemmrich / Corbis

8. Mathematics

Unemployment, recent grad: 6.1%

Unemployment, experienced grad: 5.1%

Earnings, recent grad: $40,000

Earnings, experienced grad: $71,000

Projected growth, 2010-2020: 16%

Related occupation: Mathematician

AP Photo

9. Accounting

Unemployment, recent grad: 6.8%

Unemployment, experienced grad: 4.8%

Earnings, recent grad: $43,000

Earnings, experienced grad: $65,000

Projected growth, 2010-2020: 16%

Related occupation: Accountants and Auditors

Corbis

10. French, German, Latin, and other Common Foreign Languages

Unemployment, recent grad: 7.9%

Unemployment, experienced grad: 4.8%

Earnings, recent grad: $32,000

Earnings, experienced grad: $50,000

Projected growth, 2010-2020: 42%

Related occupation: Interpreters and Translators

MCT / Landov

11. General Business

Unemployment, recent grad: 7.0%

Unemployment, experienced grad: 4.8%

Earnings, recent grad: $37,000

Earnings, experienced grad: $60,000

Projected growth, 2010-2020: 22%

Related occupation: Management Analyst

Landov

12. Elementary Education

Unemployment, recent grad: 4.8%

Unemployment, experienced grad: 3.4%

Earnings, recent grad: $33,000

Earnings, experienced grad: $40,000

Projected growth, 2010-2020: 17%

Related occupation: Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers

Richard Drew / AP Photo

13. Economics

Unemployment, recent grad: 9.4%

Unemployment, experienced grad: 5.7%

Earnings, recent grad: $48,000

Earnings, experienced grad: $76,000

Projected growth, 2010-2020: 6%

Related occupation: Economist

MORE COLLEGE RANKINGS:
The 13 Most Useless Majors
America's Happiest Colleges
America's Druggiest Colleges
America's Most Rigorous Colleges
America's Most Gay-Friendly Colleges

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