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The Most And Least Lucrative College Majors, In 2 Graphs

Your college major has a bigger effect on your income than where you go to college.

We reported on this story last month, and ran a graph of the most and least lucrative college majors.

But the graph, based on research out of Georgetown, was limited to people who had only a bachelor's degree. People with graduate degrees were excluded from the data.

We were curious: How much would the picture change if you included all college grads — those with graduate degrees as well as those with bachelor's degrees alone?

The researchers at Georgetown's Center on Education and the Workforce were good enough to crunch the numbers for us. Here are the results.

For comparison, here's the graph we ran last month — the one that shows bachelor's degrees only.

A couple interesting details in this comparison:

Petroleum engineers don't get richer (at the median) when you include those who went to grad school. A researcher at Georgetown suggested this might be because those who go to grad school are more likely to work in academia, where wages are often lower than those in the private sector.

Health and medical preparatory programs are near the bottom of the list for those who have only bachelor's degrees, but at the top of the list when you include all grads. This makes sense — the major is to prepare students to get M.D.s and other graduate-level degrees. So when you only look at students with bachelor's degrees, you're missing a key part of the picture.

Counseling psychology — at the bottom of the list for those with only bachelor's degrees — also gets a big bump when you include all graduates. This is basically the same story as health prep programs: To pursue a career in the field, you basically need to get a graduate degree.

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