Highest Post-Grad Unemployment

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It's a harsh world outside of university, especially if your major doesn't directly translate into meaningful employment. Maybe you were deeply interested in a particular field that doesn't exactly bring home a paycheck. It is disheartening to find that your passion, whether it be metaphysical philosophy or maybe military history, is not a hot item in today's job market.

Regardless of what major you chose, the job market is rough for young workers. However, having a college degree definitely helps. Recent graduates experienced an unemployment rate of 4.9 percent in September 2015. In contrast, young workers without a college degree averaged at 10 percent unemployment. While having a degree provides a significant advantage in this challenging job market, the type of degree you get makes a difference.

The data scientists at StartClass saved you the guesswork and compiled a list of the college majors with the highest post-graduate unemployment rates. We created this list using data reported by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. These figures, based on 2013-2014 averages, are updated annually using American Community Survey (ACS) results.

For each major, we provide the unemployment rate, the underemployment rate and the median wages for early and mid-career graduates. In this list, underemployment refers to the percentage of graduates in positions that don't necessarily require a college degree. A recent college graduate is defined as those aged 22 to 27 with a bachelor's degree or higher and excludes individuals currently enrolled in school. Mid-career graduates are those aged 25 to 45.

The list of majors with the highest post-grad unemployment rates is ranked from lowest to highest unemployment rates. Any ties were broken using the early career median wage.

Note: We did not include majors from the survey that are vague umbrella terms and lead to repetitive results. The majors we chose to exclude are "general social sciences," "interdisciplinary studies," "miscellaneous biological sciences," "miscellaneous physical sciences" and "miscellaneous technologies." If someone had two majors, only the first major listed was included in the data. Unless otherwise noted, definitions for fields are derived from the Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary.

#34. Philosophy

Unemployment Rate: 5.0 percent
Underemployment Rate: 51.7 percent

Median Wage (Early Career): $35,000
Median Wage (Mid-Career): $60,000

Philosophy is a discipline comprising as its core logic, aesthetics, ethics, metaphysics and epistemology.

#33. Leisure and Hospitality

Unemployment Rate: 5.0 percent
Underemployment Rate: 62.6 percent

Median Wage (Early Career): $32,000
Median Wage (Mid-Career): $52,000

"Leisure and hospitality" includes majors relating to hospitality management, physical fitness, recreation and other leisure fields.

#32. Economics

Unemployment Rate: 5.1 percent
Underemployment Rate: 42.9 percent

Median Wage (Early Career): $48,000
Median Wage (Mid-Career): $80,000

Economics is the social science concerned chiefly with description and analysis of the production, distribution and consumption of goods and services.

#31. Biology

Unemployment Rate: 5.1 percent
Underemployment Rate: 44.8 percent

Median Wage (Early Career): $31,500
Median Wage (Mid-Career): $60,000

Biology is a branch of knowledge that deals with living organisms and vital processes.

#30. Chemical Engineering

Unemployment Rate: 5.2 percent
Underemployment Rate: 17.0 percent

Median Wage (Early Career): $70,000
Median Wage (Mid-Career): $94,000

Chemical engineering deals with the industrial application of chemistry.

#29. Communications

Unemployment Rate: 5.4 percent
Underemployment Rate: 58.1 percent

Median Wage (Early Career): $36,000
Median Wage (Mid-Career): $62,000

Communication studies encompasses the "comprehensive knowledge of the nature of human communication, the symbol systems by which it functions, the environments in which it occurs, its media, and its effects," as defined by the University of California, Los Angeles.

#28. Nutrition Sciences

Unemployment Rate: 5.5 percent
Underemployment Rate: 54.4 percent

Median Wage (Early Career): $36,000
Median Wage (Mid-Career): $50,000

Nutrition sciences majors, as defined by The College Board, "research the complex relationship between the body, nutrients and health."

#27. Criminal Justice

Unemployment Rate: 5.5 percent
Underemployment Rate: 74.4 percent

Median Wage (Early Career): $33,000
Median Wage (Mid-Career): $60,000

Students of criminal justice explore, as The College Board defines, an interdisciplinary study of "every aspect of crime, the law and the justice system."

#26. Foreign Language

Unemployment Rate: 5.7 percent
Underemployment Rate: 51.8 percent

Median Wage (Early Career): $33,000
Median Wage (Mid-Career): $51,000

The "foreign language" category includes any majors that study a foreign language, such as Spanish or French.

#25. Commercial Art and Graphic Design

Unemployment Rate: 5.8 percent
Underemployment Rate: 41.7 percent

Median Wage (Early Career): $35,000
Median Wage (Mid-Career): $52,000

Graphic design students, according to The College Board, learn the "design and computer skills necessary to create the look for books, magazines, CD jackets, websites and more." Commercial design involves art for advertising.

#24. Liberal Arts

Unemployment Rate: 5.8 percent
Underemployment Rate: 58.3 percent

Median Wage (Early Career): $32,000
Median Wage (Mid-Career): $56,000

Liberal arts are intended to provide chiefly general knowledge and to develop the general intellectual capabilities (as reason and judgment) as opposed to professional or vocational skills. Although many majors might fall under the "liberal arts," category, some schools, such as SUNY at Purchase College, provide it as a specific major.

#23. Mathematics

Unemployment Rate: 5.9 percent
Underemployment Rate: 26.3 percent

Median Wage (Early Career): $42,000
Median Wage (Mid-Career): $77,000

Mathematics is the science of numbers and their various operations. Duke University's Department of Mathematics explains that employers seek math students because "success in mathematics requires strong problem-solving abilities and outstanding analytical skills."

#22. History

Unemployment Rate: 5.9 percent
Underemployment Rate: 56.6 percent

Median Wage (Early Career): $35,000
Median Wage (Mid-Career): $60,000

History is the study of the past, which can examine specific themes and explore potential causation.

#21. Psychology

Unemployment Rate: 5.9 percent
Underemployment Rate: 51.3 percent

Median Wage (Early Career): $30,000
Median Wage (Mid-Career): $52,000

Psychology is the science of the mind and behavior.

#20. Industrial Engineering

Unemployment Rate: 6.2 percent
Underemployment Rate: 25.6 percent

Median Wage (Early Career): $60,000
Median Wage (Mid-Career): $81,000

Industrial engineering is engineering that deals with the development and application of cost and work standards for the various operations involved in manufacture.

#19. Physics

Unemployment Rate: 6.2 percent
Underemployment Rate: 34.2 percent

Median Wage (Early Career): $50,000
Median Wage (Mid-Career): $80,000

Physics majors study the science that deals with matter and energy and their interactions in the fields of mechanics, acoustics, optics, heat, electricity, magnetism, radiation, atomic structure and nuclear phenomena.

#18. Public Policy and Law

Unemployment Rate: 6.3 percent
Underemployment Rate: 63.1 percent

Median Wage (Early Career): $32,000
Median Wage (Mid-Career): $60,000

The law and public policy program offered by Indiana University Bloomington guides students to "explore how legal institutions and their leaders shape public policy."

#17. Sociology

Unemployment Rate: 6.5 percent
Underemployment Rate: 56.5 percent

Median Wage (Early Career): $33,000
Median Wage (Mid-Career): $54,000

Sociology is the science of society, social institutions and social relations.

#16. Medical Technicians

Unemployment Rate: 6.7 percent
Underemployment Rate: 59.6 percent

Median Wage (Early Career): $44,000
Median Wage (Mid-Career): $60,000

Medical technicians, according to the career-focused site Sokanu, "perform and analyze the results of complex scientific tests on blood and bodily fluids"

#15. Information Systems and Management

Unemployment Rate: 6.7 percent
Underemployment Rate: 45.3 percent

Median Wage (Early Career): $43,000
Median Wage (Mid-Career): $70,000

The information systems management major, according to University of Maryland University College, teaches students how to "conceptualize, implement, and manage high-quality, secure information systems."

#14. International Affairs

Unemployment Rate: 6.8 percent
Underemployment Rate: 47.4 percent

Median Wage (Early Career): $40,000
Median Wage (Mid-Career): $70,000

Students of international affairs, which is also called international relations, study the branch of political science concerned with relations between nations (primarily with foreign policies).

#13. Architecture

Unemployment Rate: 6.8 percent
Underemployment Rate: 37.1 percent

Median Wage (Early Career): $40,000
Median Wage (Mid-Career): $68,000

Architecture is the art or practice of designing and building structures.

#12. Performing Arts

Unemployment Rate: 6.8 percent
Underemployment Rate: 66.5 percent

Median Wage (Early Career): $30,000
Median Wage (Mid-Career): $47,000

The performing arts major can include the study of theatre, dance or music.

#11. Theology and Religion

Unemployment Rate: 6.8 percent
Underemployment Rate: 50.8 percent

Median Wage (Early Career): $28,600
Median Wage (Mid-Career): $45,000

Theology majors study "a particular religion or religious community. Classes focus on the religion's beliefs, teachings, history, practices, ethics, and present-day situation," according to The College Board.

#10. Political Science

Unemployment Rate: 7.2 percent
Underemployment Rate: 49.7 percent

Median Wage (Early Career): $38,000
Median Wage (Mid-Career): $70,000

Political science is a social science concerned chiefly with the description and analysis of political and governmental institutions and processes.

#9. Ethnic Studies

Unemployment Rate: 7.3 percent
Underemployment Rate: 57.1 percent

Median Wage (Early Career): $32,000
Median Wage (Mid-Career): $60,000

The ethnic studies major, according to The College Board, "examines[s] race and ethnicity, focusing on a comparative and interdisciplinary study of the history and culture of minorities."

#8. English Language

Unemployment Rate: 7.5 percent
Underemployment Rate: 51.7 percent

Median Wage (Early Career): $32,200
Median Wage (Mid-Career): $55,000

The "English language" label includes the "English language and literature" and "composition and speech" majors.

#7. Fine Arts

Unemployment Rate: 7.6 percent
Underemployment Rate: 62.3 percent

Median Wage (Early Career): $29,000
Median Wage (Mid-Career): $50,000

Washington State University notes that their fine arts program provides "interdisciplinary approaches to the practice of art and the study of visual culture."

#6. Art History

Unemployment Rate: 7.8 percent
Underemployment Rate: 58.9 percent

Median Wage (Early Career): $32,000
Median Wage (Mid-Career): $53,000

The University of Utah's Department of Art and Art History provides a degree program that "trains students to develop historically informed approaches to art and visual culture within the context of an interdisciplinary humanities education."

#5. Earth Sciences

Unemployment Rate: 7.9 percent
Underemployment Rate: 41.8 percent

Median Wage (Early Career): $30,300
Median Wage (Mid-Career): $63,000

Earth science is any of the sciences (geology, meteorology or oceanography) that deal with the earth or with one or more of its parts.

#4. Environmental Studies

Unemployment Rate: 8.5 percent
Underemployment Rate: 53.7 percent

Median Wage (Early Career): $30,000
Median Wage (Mid-Career): $60,000

DePaul University's environmental studies program incorporates "courses in natural sciences, social sciences and humanities, which will provide you with a comprehensive understanding of human interaction with the natural environment, emerging environmental problems and potential solutions."

#3. Mass Media

Unemployment Rate: 8.6 percent
Underemployment Rate: 56.5 percent

Median Wage (Early Career): $31,200
Median Wage (Mid-Career): $56,000

The mass media program at California State University San Marcos states that it "provides students with theoretically-focused and application-based frameworks to understand media, media technology, and its influence upon domestic and global culture and society."

#2. Geography

Unemployment Rate: 8.8 percent
Underemployment Rate: 48.1 percent

Median Wage (Early Career): $34,500
Median Wage (Mid-Career): $60,000

Geography is a science that deals with the description, distribution and interaction of the diverse physical, biological and cultural features of the earth's surface.

#1. Anthropology

Unemployment Rate: 8.8 percent
Underemployment Rate: 59.1 percent

Median Wage (Early Career): $30,000
Median Wage (Mid-Career): $50,000

Anthropology is the study of human beings and their ancestors through time and space in relation to physical character, environmental and social relations, and culture.

The 10 College Majors With the Highest Post-Grad Unemployment

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