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).

Read more

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
CytotechnologyBachelors$58,60091%$73,000

Cytotechnology
Degree TypeBachelors
Early Career Pay$58,600
% High Meaning91%
Mid-Career Pay$73,000
Early Childhood Special EducationBachelors$34,50091%$50,600

Early Childhood Special Education
Degree TypeBachelors
Early Career Pay$34,500
% High Meaning91%
Mid-Career Pay$50,600
Music TherapyBachelors$39,10090%$55,700

Music Therapy
Degree TypeBachelors
Early Career Pay$39,100
% High Meaning90%
Mid-Career Pay$55,700
Radiation TherapyBachelors$66,40090%$88,800

Radiation Therapy
Degree TypeBachelors
Early Career Pay$66,400
% High Meaning90%
Mid-Career Pay$88,800
Physical TherapyBachelors$56,60089%$93,200

Physical Therapy
Degree TypeBachelors
Early Career Pay$56,600
% High Meaning89%
Mid-Career Pay$93,200
Occupational Therapy (OT)Bachelors$62,50089%$88,500

Occupational Therapy (OT)
Degree TypeBachelors
Early Career Pay$62,500
% High Meaning89%
Mid-Career Pay$88,500
MedicineBachelors$73,30086%$97,000

Medicine
Degree TypeBachelors
Early Career Pay$73,300
% High Meaning86%
Mid-Career Pay$97,000
American Sign Language InterpretingBachelors$39,80085%$73,800

American Sign Language Interpreting
Degree TypeBachelors
Early Career Pay$39,800
% High Meaning85%
Mid-Career Pay$73,800
Medical Laboratory ScienceBachelors$52,40085%$69,400

Medical Laboratory Science
Degree TypeBachelors
Early Career Pay$52,400
% High Meaning85%
Mid-Career Pay$69,400
Physician Assistant StudiesBachelors$91,10085%$109,600

Physician Assistant Studies
Degree TypeBachelors
Early Career Pay$91,100
% High Meaning85%
Mid-Career Pay$109,600
Nursing ScienceBachelors$63,20085%$80,500

Nursing Science
Degree TypeBachelors
Early Career Pay$63,200
% High Meaning85%
Mid-Career Pay$80,500
Respiratory CareBachelors$51,70084%$68,900

Respiratory Care
Degree TypeBachelors
Early Career Pay$51,700
% High Meaning84%
Mid-Career Pay$68,900
RadiologyBachelors$52,00084%$76,300

Radiology
Degree TypeBachelors
Early Career Pay$52,000
% High Meaning84%
Mid-Career Pay$76,300
Bachelor of Science in NursingBachelors$60,10083%$77,200

Bachelor of Science in Nursing
Degree TypeBachelors
Early Career Pay$60,100
% High Meaning83%
Mid-Career Pay$77,200
Diagnostic Medical SonographyBachelors$61,30083%$78,100

Diagnostic Medical Sonography
Degree TypeBachelors
Early Career Pay$61,300
% High Meaning83%
Mid-Career Pay$78,100
NursingBachelors$60,90083%$79,600

Nursing
Degree TypeBachelors
Early Career Pay$60,900
% High Meaning83%
Mid-Career Pay$79,600
Nuclear MedicineBachelors$58,00083%$78,300

Nuclear Medicine
Degree TypeBachelors
Early Career Pay$58,000
% High Meaning83%
Mid-Career Pay$78,300
Cardiopulmonary ScienceBachelors$44,10083%$74,400

Cardiopulmonary Science
Degree TypeBachelors
Early Career Pay$44,100
% High Meaning83%
Mid-Career Pay$74,400
Pastoral MinistryBachelors$36,50083%$54,100

Pastoral Ministry
Degree TypeBachelors
Early Career Pay$36,500
% High Meaning83%
Mid-Career Pay$54,100
Clinical Laboratory ScienceBachelors$52,00083%$66,700

Clinical Laboratory Science
Degree TypeBachelors
Early Career Pay$52,000
% High Meaning83%
Mid-Career Pay$66,700
Health Services ManagementBachelors$38,10083%$64,100

Health Services Management
Degree TypeBachelors
Early Career Pay$38,100
% High Meaning83%
Mid-Career Pay$64,100
Radiologic ScienceBachelors$54,50082%$70,700

Radiologic Science
Degree TypeBachelors
Early Career Pay$54,500
% High Meaning82%
Mid-Career Pay$70,700
Medical Laboratory TechnologyBachelors$53,00082%$70,200

Medical Laboratory Technology
Degree TypeBachelors
Early Career Pay$53,000
% High Meaning82%
Mid-Career Pay$70,200
Allied HealthBachelors$43,70082%$74,400

Allied Health
Degree TypeBachelors
Early Career Pay$43,700
% High Meaning82%
Mid-Career Pay$74,400
Mortuary ScienceBachelors$40,50082%$60,000

Mortuary Science
Degree TypeBachelors
Early Career Pay$40,500
% High Meaning82%
Mid-Career Pay$60,000
Find your worth

What are you worth?

Take our free salary survey to find out

Get your free report

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.


Leave a Reply

avatar
  Subscribe  
Notify of