By The Numbers

Your college major counts more than your school: Study

Amy Scott Sep 3, 2013

More evidence that paying a lot for a prestigious college doesn’t always make sense — at least, not financially.

According to a new paper, and reported by the Chronicle of Higher Education, the choice of a college graduate’s major is a better measure of early-career wages than which school they attended.

Graduates of big-name, flagship campuses often did not earn more than those who had attended lesser-known, regional ones. In Texas, Colorado and Virginia graduates of two-year degree programs in some technical and science fields earned more, on average, than graduates with four-year degrees. In general, graduates of technology, engineering and mathematics programs earned a bigger paycheck.

The research paper, from the college affordability partnership College Measures, puts together previous reports on the average first-year earnings of graduates, sorted by major, institution and type of degree.

Previously, Marketplace and the Chronicle of Higher Education commissioned a study that looked at what employers and hiring managers really want from college grads, and found in some cases, an internship and job experience were more important than college major.

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