America’s Lowest-Paying College Major

The median personal income for an American is $41,000. Younger people, just out of college or high school, make much less. A great deal of the reason people get higher or lower pay is their majors. People who end up as doctors, lawyers, and accountants are almost guaranteed high annual wages. Certain majors, like Social Studies, offer little that gives people salary leverage. The major that does offer skills but pays the lowest wages among all college degrees is theology, the study of God and religion. 

According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the median income early in careers is highest for computer science ($73,000) and engineering ($72,000). The comparable figure for people with theology and religion degrees is $36,000. The poverty level for a family of four is $28,000. 

Theology majors often become teachers or work at religious organizations, most of which are non-profits. Non-profits usually depend on donations which can be small. Teachers who make little money probably teach people who will also make little money. Merriam-Webster defines it as “the the study of religious faith, practice, and experience… the study of God and of God’s relation to the world.” As the world becomes more secular, the need for these skills falls.

According to NPR, fewer than half of Americans belong to a religious congregation. The figure dropped to 47% in 2021. That is down from 73% in 1937. Demand for trained individuals is low in an environment where participants have fallen sharply. 

There is no reason to believe that a part of America that is shrink so rapidly will need more people with related degrees. People who graduate with theology degrees will likely make less and less in the future. 

These are the highest-paying college majors.

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