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Financial Planning > College Planning

30 worst paying college majors: 2015

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Choosing a major can be nerve-wracking for any college student. For the lucky few, a passion or obvious aptitude might make the ordeal smoother. For the rest, advice from relatives and friends only adds to the tension.

To help out, ThinkAdvisor has again mined’s annual survey of colleges and universities in the U.S. to see which majors have the best starting salaries. Pay might not be everything, but with the high cost of tuition it’s worth considering. After all, those student loans will demand attention.

There’s been a debate raging about whether college is worth the cost. The answer is not easy, and there’s more to consider than just a simple return on investment equation. Socialization, exposure to new ideas and other factors should be considered.

(See also 30 Worst Paying College Majors: 2014 and 30 Best Paying College Majors: 2015.)

Despite the fact that this year’s data included 207 majors, up from 129 last year, many of the occupations at the bottom of the list are holdovers. The rankings below are based on data collected by from 1,000 universities and include graduates with bachelor’s degrees only. The universities surveyed include 86 percent of U.S. schools with an enrollment of more than 5,000. We sorted them by starting salary down to the lowest and included information and ranking for mid-career pay.

Take a look at the 30 worst paying college majors: 2015.


30. (tie) Pastoral Ministry

Starting Salary: $36,300

Mid-Career Salary: $46,000 (200th)

30. (tie) Physical Education Teaching

Starting Salary: $36,300

Mid-Career Salary: $57,400 (175th, tie)

28. Broadcast Journalism

Starting Salary: $36,100

Mid-Career Salary: $69,700 (108th, tie)


26. (tie) Studio Art

Starting Salary: $36,000

Mid-Career Salary: $54,000 (189th, tie)

26. (tie) Exercise & Sports Science

Starting Salary: $36,000

Mid-Career Salary: $57,700 (170th tie)


24. Criminal Justice

Salary: $35,900

Mid-Career Salary: $58,800 (164th)

23. Recreation & Leisure Studies

Starting Salary: $35,800

Mid-Career Salary: $47,100 (196th)


22. Drama

Starting Salary: $35,800

Mid-Career Salary: $59,300 (160h)

21. Religious Studies

Starting Salary: $35,700

Mid-Career Salary: $70,000 (107th)


20. Hospitality & Tourism

Starting Salary: $35,600

Mid-Career Salary: $59,900 (152nd, tie)

19. Horticulture

Starting Salary: $35,200

Mid-Career Salary: $47,700 (195th)


18. (tie) Animal Science

Starting Salary: $35,100

Mid-Career Salary: $58,500 (166th, tie)

18. (tie) Paralegal Studies

Starting Salary: $35,100

Mid-Career Salary: $55,200 (185th)


16. Athletic Training

Starting Salary: $35,000

Mid-Career Salary: $45,900 (201st)

15. Biblical Studies

Starting Salary: $34,900

Mid-Career Salary: $48,500 (193rd)


14. (tie) Special Education

Starting Salary: $34,500

Mid-Career Salary: $46,800 (198th)

14. (tie) Therapeutic Recreation

Starting Salary: $34,500

Mid-Career Salary: $46,900 (197th)


12. Exercise Science

Starting Salary: $34,400

Mid-Career Salary: $53,400 (107th, tie)

11. Culinary Arts & Culinary Management

Starting Salary: $33,900

Mid-Career Salary: $55,300 (184th)


10. Human Services

Starting Salary: $33,800

Mid-Career Salary: $41,300 (203rd)

9. (tie) Broadcast Communication

Starting Salary: $33,600

Mid-Career Salary: $61,600 (140th)

9. (tie) Elementary Education

Starting Salary: $33,600

Mid-Career Salary: $45,500 (202nd)


7. Music Teacher Education

Starting Salary: $33,300

Mid-Career Salary: $45,500 (174th)

6. Social Work

Starting Salary: $32,800

Mid-Career Salary: $46,600 (199th, tie)


5. Early Childhood & Elementary Education

Starting Salary: $32,300

Mid-Career Salary: $40,400 (204th)

4. Child Development

Starting Salary: $32,200

Mid-Career Salary: $36,400 (207th)


3. Culinary Arts

Starting Salary: $31,900

Mid-Career Salary: $50,800 (192nd)

2. Child & Family Studies

Starting Salary: $31,200

Mid-Career Salary: $38,600 (205h)


1. Early Childhood Education

Starting Salary: $29,700

Mid-Career Salary: $38,000 (206th)


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