Humanities degrees have received a bad rap recently, even from President Obama. Many people, including top policy makers, routinely push policies to encourage more students to major in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). Some governors have even suggested that state subsidies for public universities should be focused on STEM disciplines, with less money going to “less useful” degrees such as the humanities. Yet, in contravention to this perceived truth, the data show that humanities degrees are still worth a great deal.
As part of a recent project estimating the economic impact of my university, I had a reason to compute the predicted value of college degrees in a wide variety of fields. While it is certainly true that science, engineering, math and business degrees all produce graduates with high expected salaries, those humanities degrees still pay off rather handsomely.