Best Value Colleges For Humanities Majors

If your heart is set on studying the Humanities -- and as a proud holder of a degree in the Humanities, this writer knows we have the biggest hearts -- you don't have to resign yourself to a lifetime of student loans you'll never be able to pay back.  Read More

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1SUNY - Binghamton University(In-State)
20 Year Net ROI$714,000
Total 4 Year Cost$89,600
Grad Rate81%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$27,800
2SUNY - Binghamton University(Out-of-State)
20 Year Net ROI$675,000
Total 4 Year Cost$129,000
Grad Rate81%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$27,800
3University of Virginia (UVA) - Main Campus(In-State)
20 Year Net ROI$525,000
Total 4 Year Cost$102,000
Grad Rate94%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$29,300
4George Mason University(In-State)
20 Year Net ROI$456,000
Total 4 Year Cost$97,900
Grad Rate67%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$30,100
5University of California - Berkeley(In-State)
20 Year Net ROI$451,000
Total 4 Year Cost$133,000
Grad Rate91%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$23,300
6University of California - San Diego (UCSD)(In-State)
20 Year Net ROI$423,000
Total 4 Year Cost$121,000
Grad Rate86%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$22,600
7University of Virginia (UVA) - Main Campus(Out-of-State)
20 Year Net ROI$417,000
Total 4 Year Cost$210,000
Grad Rate94%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$29,300
8George Mason University(Out-of-State)
20 Year Net ROI$382,000
Total 4 Year Cost$172,000
Grad Rate67%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$30,100
9California Polytechnic State University (CalPoly) - San Luis Obispo(In-State)
20 Year Net ROI$368,000
Total 4 Year Cost$96,300
Grad Rate75%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$23,400
10University of California - Berkeley(Out-of-State)
20 Year Net ROI$359,000
Total 4 Year Cost$225,000
Grad Rate91%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$23,300
11Brigham Young University (BYU)(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$355,000
Total 4 Year Cost$69,400
Grad Rate79%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$20,200
12University of California - San Diego (UCSD)(Out-of-State)
20 Year Net ROI$331,000
Total 4 Year Cost$213,000
Grad Rate86%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$22,600
13University of Houston (UH)(In-State)
20 Year Net ROI$326,000
Total 4 Year Cost$88,400
Grad Rate48%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$24,500
14California Polytechnic State University (CalPoly) - San Luis Obispo(Out-of-State)
20 Year Net ROI$323,000
Total 4 Year Cost$141,000
Grad Rate75%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$23,400
15San Jose State University (SJSU)(In-State)
20 Year Net ROI$307,000
Total 4 Year Cost$96,600
Grad Rate52%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$21,900

*NOTE: Unranked schools on this list don’t have on-campus living options, so on-campus costs are not available.

Just do your research and make a smart decision using PayScale's College ROI Report humanities major ranking to find out which colleges provide the highest return on investment for alumni who study English, literature, history, foreign languages, philosophy and other related subjects.

By using the College ROI Report, humanities majors can find out which colleges give alumni with a bachelor's degree in a humanities subject the best value for their educational dollar by calculating return on investment. This allows you to see the return on investment based on the 20-year earnings of alumni with a humanities degree from each school.

In the search for a college with a high return on investment, humanities majors see the highest ROIs from some of the top public colleges in the country. SUNY - Binghamton earns first place for 20-Year Net ROI. Humanities majors paying in-state tuition see a 20-Year Net ROI of $714,000. That figure is based on students who receive no financial aid. If we factor in the average financial aid package SUNY students receive (50 percent of SUNY - Binghamton students receive financial aid), then the 20-Year Net Return on Investment for humanities majors shoots to $743,000. That's a 13.9 percent annualized ROI. (It's important to note, SUNY - Binghamton for out-of-state students is also the second��-ranked school in PayScale's College ROI Report, making it a fantastic deal regardless of whether you're a New Yorker.)

The University of Virginia in Charlottesville, VA provides humanities majors a return on investment of $525,000 over 20 years, making it the second-highest ROI on our list (noting, as mentioned above, that SUNY Binghamton for out of state students actually holds the number two spot.) UVA has a reputation as a good value for college, especially for in-state residents, and the humanities majors it produces prove that you can launch a successful career with a humanities degree.

For another school ranked highly for the humanities in PayScale's College ROI Report, we remain in the Old Dominion. George Mason University provides a solid ROI for humanities majors assuming no financial aid. (Again, this ranking does not include SUNY - Binghamton as the second-ranked school.) George Mason students see an annualized ROI of 9.2 percent, amounting to $456,000 over 20 years.

The above-two schools are ranked based on their ROI without including financial aid. If financial aid is included, the University of Virginia takes second place with a 20-Year Net ROI of $597,000 and an annualized ROI of 16.7 percent. Interestingly, George Mason remains high on the list if financial aid is taken into account.

For humanities majors, return on investment really matters because resulting career paths are often less defined than they are for science, technology, engineering and math students. But don't despair; a degree in the humanities can certainly lead to a wide array of fulfilling and high-paying careers. Just be aware that humanities majors often take longer to settle into their career of choice than engineering majors and other STEM majors. However, history shows that there are many successful humanities majors. Diane Sawyer, Clarence Thomas, Dr. Benjamin Spock, Steve Wynn and Hank Paulson are all examples of famous English majors. And there are many more examples of successful humanities majors: Carly Fiorina, former CEO of Hewlett Packard, studied philosophy and medieval studies at Stanford and went on to head up a major tech company. Flickr co-founder Stewart Butterfield also majored in philosophy and went on to work in technology. So take note: rounding out your humanities degree with technical skills learned from a minor in addition to your major is a smart way to increase your worth.