Most Meaningful College Majors

Money isn’t everything. Some majors lead to more meaningful jobs than others. If you want to change the world with your education, check out the most meaningful college majors (and we’ll tell you the earning potential as well).

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Major 
Degree Type 
Early Career Pay
 
Median salary for alumni w/degrees in this subject; 0-5 years work experience
% High Meaning
 
% alumni who say their work makes the world a better place
Mid-Career Pay
 
Median salary for alumni w/degrees in this subject; 10+ years work experience
Entrepreneurship & LeadershipBachelors$50,80048%$92,800

Entrepreneurship & Leadership
Degree TypeBachelors
Early Career Pay$50,800
% High Meaning48%
Mid-Career Pay$92,800
Industrial PsychologyBachelors$46,30048%$92,500

Industrial Psychology
Degree TypeBachelors
Early Career Pay$46,300
% High Meaning48%
Mid-Career Pay$92,500
Business CommunicationBachelors$46,40048%$88,500

Business Communication
Degree TypeBachelors
Early Career Pay$46,400
% High Meaning48%
Mid-Career Pay$88,500
Network EngineeringBachelors$56,60048%$90,300

Network Engineering
Degree TypeBachelors
Early Career Pay$56,600
% High Meaning48%
Mid-Career Pay$90,300
Law & SocietyBachelors$43,40047%$71,200

Law & Society
Degree TypeBachelors
Early Career Pay$43,400
% High Meaning47%
Mid-Career Pay$71,200
DramaBachelors$44,10047%$73,300

Drama
Degree TypeBachelors
Early Career Pay$44,100
% High Meaning47%
Mid-Career Pay$73,300
Broadcast CommunicationBachelors$37,10047%$70,100

Broadcast Communication
Degree TypeBachelors
Early Career Pay$37,100
% High Meaning47%
Mid-Career Pay$70,100
Agribusiness ManagementBachelors$46,30047%$77,400

Agribusiness Management
Degree TypeBachelors
Early Career Pay$46,300
% High Meaning47%
Mid-Career Pay$77,400
ActingBachelors$41,10047%$75,300

Acting
Degree TypeBachelors
Early Career Pay$41,100
% High Meaning47%
Mid-Career Pay$75,300
TheatreBachelors$38,70047%$61,000

Theatre
Degree TypeBachelors
Early Career Pay$38,700
% High Meaning47%
Mid-Career Pay$61,000
Business LeadershipBachelors$47,20047%$63,800

Business Leadership
Degree TypeBachelors
Early Career Pay$47,200
% High Meaning47%
Mid-Career Pay$63,800
General & Strategic ManagementBachelors$47,20047%$79,900

General & Strategic Management
Degree TypeBachelors
Early Career Pay$47,200
% High Meaning47%
Mid-Career Pay$79,900
Business Logistics & TransportationBachelors$55,30047%$101,500

Business Logistics & Transportation
Degree TypeBachelors
Early Career Pay$55,300
% High Meaning47%
Mid-Career Pay$101,500
Information ManagementBachelors$60,70047%$106,300

Information Management
Degree TypeBachelors
Early Career Pay$60,700
% High Meaning47%
Mid-Career Pay$106,300
Computer Management Information Systems (CMIS)Bachelors$55,70047%$104,700

Computer Management Information Systems (CMIS)
Degree TypeBachelors
Early Career Pay$55,700
% High Meaning47%
Mid-Career Pay$104,700
Information Sciences and TechnologyBachelors$60,00047%$104,000

Information Sciences and Technology
Degree TypeBachelors
Early Career Pay$60,000
% High Meaning47%
Mid-Career Pay$104,000
International & Comparative PoliticsBachelors$45,40047%$98,200

International & Comparative Politics
Degree TypeBachelors
Early Career Pay$45,400
% High Meaning47%
Mid-Career Pay$98,200
Chinese LanguageBachelors$50,60047%$97,900

Chinese Language
Degree TypeBachelors
Early Career Pay$50,600
% High Meaning47%
Mid-Career Pay$97,900
Materials EngineeringBachelors$69,30047%$106,600

Materials Engineering
Degree TypeBachelors
Early Career Pay$69,300
% High Meaning47%
Mid-Career Pay$106,600
Public AccountingBachelors$56,40047%$130,800

Public Accounting
Degree TypeBachelors
Early Career Pay$56,400
% High Meaning47%
Mid-Career Pay$130,800
Ceramic EngineeringBachelors$65,70047%$109,100

Ceramic Engineering
Degree TypeBachelors
Early Career Pay$65,700
% High Meaning47%
Mid-Career Pay$109,100
Engineering PhysicsBachelors$65,40047%$108,800

Engineering Physics
Degree TypeBachelors
Early Career Pay$65,400
% High Meaning47%
Mid-Career Pay$108,800
Entrepreneurship & MarketingBachelors$46,80047%$108,500

Entrepreneurship & Marketing
Degree TypeBachelors
Early Career Pay$46,800
% High Meaning47%
Mid-Career Pay$108,500
International EconomicsBachelors$53,80047%$111,300

International Economics
Degree TypeBachelors
Early Career Pay$53,800
% High Meaning47%
Mid-Career Pay$111,300
European HistoryBachelors$48,90047%$87,100

European History
Degree TypeBachelors
Early Career Pay$48,900
% High Meaning47%
Mid-Career Pay$87,100
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When it comes to choosing a career and picking a college major that will help you achieve your goals, money isn’t everything. Job meaning counts for a lot too. That’s why PayScale asks everybody who takes our survey if they feel like their job makes the world a better place. This list ranks college majors by the percentage of graduates in each major who answer that question with a resounding “yes.”

Careers that involve directly helping people are generally perceived as the most meaningful, so majors that prepare students for a career working with people to improve lives rank highest on this list. If you look at our study of the Most and Least Meaningful Jobs, you also see that jobs in the health sector generally feel that their jobs are very meaningful.

Another job type that leads to a high sense of job meaning is Community and Social Service. So it makes sense that a high percentage of workers with a bachelor’s degree in pastoral ministry say that their work definitely makes the world a better place. Graduates who chose this path definitely sacrifice income potential for good karma, since the median mid-career salary for pastoral ministry majors is quite low.

That doesn’t mean that all meaningful majors lead to low salaries. Many of the health-related majors on the top of this list have high earning potential as well as job meaning. Workers who majored in subjects like Medical Laboratory Science, Respiratory Care, Clinical Laboratory Science, Nursing, Dental Hygiene and Diagnostic Medical Sonography have salaries above $60,000. And people with one of the highest-paying majors on our list, petroleum engineering, don’t seem to feel like they’ve sold their souls for a high income; the majority of them report high job meaning.


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