If you're thinking about going back to university, there's an important question you need to answer: Are you doing it to: get a degree, get a job, or both? If you answered C, then you'll want to choose your degree wisely.
A good place to start: Take a look at the unemployment rate for any given degree, which is what the Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce found out for dozens of degrees.
On average, the unemployment rate for all recent university grads was 7.9 percent, however, unemployment rates tended to vary greatly by major, according to the Georgetown report.
"All degrees aren't equal, so you should find out what's happened to the people who've got that degree, because that's most likely going to happen to you," says Anthony Carnevale, director of the Georgetown Center and co-author of the report.
With that advice in mind, take a look at which degrees had high and low unemployment rates for recent grads, according to the Georgetown report.
Bachelor's Degrees with a Bright Job Outlook
1. Elementary Education | 5.0 percent unemployment rate
For some reason humans keep having kids. And as long as there are children, we'll always need qualified teachers to educate them. That might explain why this major was found to have one of the lowest unemployment rates - just 5 percent - in the Georgetown study.
Why These Grads Might Have Better Luck: There are a lot of baby-boomer elementary teachers, and that is good news for recent elementary education grads. "As teachers from the baby boomer generation retire, more and more young teachers are being recruited to take their place," Sorenson says.
- Elementary School Teacher
- Middle School Teacher
2. Finance | 5.9 percent unemployment rate
Money makes the world go 'round. So it makes sense that a finance degree might pay off down the road. Just take a look at the low unemployment rate of 5.9 percent for recent finance grads, according to the Georgetown report.
Why These Grads Might Have Better Luck: "Those who understand the world of finance will always have a place in business. From personal finance to stock markets, the ones who understand the bottom line will have a job," says Sorenson. And while no degree can guarantee employment, he adds that a finance degree can prepares students for jobs that have a high impact on the financial success of organizations, which means they are not only in demand, but paid well.
- Financial Analyst
- Personal Financial Advisor
3. Hospitality Management | 6.0 percent unemployment rate
"The customer is always right" is a common saying. With such high value placed on good service, you can see why the Georgetown report found that hospitality management grads came in with a low unemployment rate of just 6 percent.
Why These Grads Might Have Better Luck: "As someone who worked in the hospitality industry for many years, I can tell you that most restaurants and hotels are always looking for quality managers," says Bakke. Since a major focus of this degree is teaching students how to run hotels and resorts, hospitality grads are a perfect fit for those job openings, he says. He adds that this degree can open the doors to a variety of different careers, such as a travel agent, a chef, or an event planner.
- Lodging Manager
- Meeting, Convention, or Event Planner
4. Marketing and Marketing Research | 6.6 percent unemployment rate
Marketing and marketing research offers employers valuable insight into consumer trends. So it seems likely that this field of study could pay off in more ways than just a diploma. In fact, the Georgetown report found recent grads with these majors have a relatively low unemployment rate of just 6.6 percent.
Why These Grads Might Have Better Luck: A degree in marketing and market research has high potential, because most businesses now understand that marketing their business is a key to survival, says Bakke. "And with the advent of social media as a marketing platform, marketing majors are that much more in demand," he says.
- Marketing Manager
- Market Research Analyst
5. Information Systems | 14.7 percent unemployment rate
We live in the Information Age, so you'd think that a major with the word "information" in it would mean a promising job outlook for its grads, right? Well, the Georgetown report found otherwise. This major had the highest unemployment rate out of all the university majors in the study.
Why These Grads May Have It Tough: "The true nature of information systems is to improve the efficiency of a business, so once the system is put into place, your services may or may not be required on a long-term basis," says Tony Sorenson, CEO of the executive and staff recruiting firm Versique Search & Consulting. As a result, there is less demand for new and lesser-experienced information systems professionals, he explains.
Bachelor's Degrees with Dim Job Prospects
1. History | 9.5 percent unemployment rate
They say those who don't learn history are bound to repeat it. But if you believe the Georgetown study, those who major in it could be bound for the unemployment line.
Why These Grads May Have It Tough: Sorenson says that there is little opportunity for historians in today's job market. "Historians, appraisers, preservationists, etc. These are very niche markets with highly skilled and knowledgeable individuals who are called to the scene when needed for fact-checking or accuracy, not a long-term role with a growing company in today's economy," he says.
2. Fine Arts | 10.1 percent unemployment rate
If you have your heart set on a fine arts major, it might take a lot to change your mind. Still, you should be prepared for the harsh reality you might face post-graduation, since this major has a high unemployment rate, according to the Georgetown study.
Why These Grads May Have It Tough: Sorenson says that despite being very self-fulfilling this degree may not be specific enough to attract employment. "For instance, if [students] want to work in design or be a creative director, they'll need a more specific skill set such as graphic design and creative writing to be a successful ‘artist,'" he says. And if you want to be an artist, skill and your work is most important, not a degree, explains Sorenson.
3. Economics | 10.4 percent unemployment rate
With all the airtime that news programs spend on the economy, you'd think this degree would be a sure thing. But you'd be wrong. Just take a look at that double digit unemployment rate found by the Georgetown study.
Why These Grads May Have It Tough: "...The education you receive [in economics] is based mostly in theory, making your knowledge difficult to apply to the real world of employment," says David Bakke, a career expert at Money Crashers, a website devoted to career and personal finance advice. For example, he says finance majors may beat you out for jobs in the world of finance; accounting majors have specific skills for accountant positions; and so on.
4. Anthropology & Archeology | 12.6 percent unemployment rate
These are intellectual, fascinating, and noble degrees. Unfortunately, a diploma - not a career - might be the only treasure these majors yield after graduation judging from their high unemployment rate in the Georgetown study.
Why These Grads May Have It Tough: There is not much demand for field work, and teaching the subjects in colleges and universities demands a higher degree than a bachelor's, says Bakke. As for the general job market? "These types of degrees are considered to be too grounded in academia for them to have any real value in the business world," he says.
5. Computer Science | 8.7 percent unemployment rate
Computers have become part of everyday life - from your smartphone to your e-book reader. So with the growing need for technology, it's no surprise that the unemployment rate for recent computer science grads is 8.7 percent. True, that's a tad higher than the average, but keep in mind that the unemployment rate for recent computer science grads with experience is just 4.7 percent.
Why These Grads Might Have Better Luck: With the rise of e-commerce, most businesses couldn't survive without computers, so having a computer science major on board is basically a necessity at most companies, says Bakke. "For this reason, computer science majors are in high demand," he says.