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Most Employable Degrees 2016

Most Employable Degrees 2016

Choosing a major is not something to take lightly. There are many factors to weigh when deciding which degree program is the right fit for you and your professional goals. After all, college is an investment. And like any investment, it's important to have a good idea of what you stand to gain before taking the plunge.

With that in mind, OnlineDegrees.com launched an investigation to find which majors offered students the best potential return on their educational investment. In an effort to help students get the most "bang for their buck" when it comes to getting a degree, we ranked every degree field in the U.S. based on a number of cost-benefit factors. The goal was to find which degrees had the best employment opportunities in today's economic climate while still remaining on the affordable end of higher education.

Degrees that fared best were those with relatively low tuition costs, but a high number of related careers with good employment projections and high average salaries. Some majors offered great growth rates and low tuition, but lost points because they're only available at a select number of schools, making them harder for the average student to obtain.

It's no surprise that tech and business majors continue to dominant top positions. However, shifts in the economic landscape have contributed to some interesting changes since last year's study. Old standbys like entrepreneurship and network administration have fallen out of the top 10, while emerging fields such as geotechnical engineering and informatics are making their list debut this year. Check out the entire top 50 ranking, as well as a detailed breakdown of our methodology, below.

Methodology

  1. Number of occupations matched to each degree, National Center for Education Statistics, 2010: 25%
  2. Average annual salary for all occupations matched to each degree, Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014: 20%
  3. Average projected job growth rate, 2014-2024, for all occupations matched to each degree, Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2015: 20%
  4. Average concentration of jobs per 1,000 for all occupations matched to each degree, Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014: 15%
  5. Number of schools offering programs at any level for each degree, National Center for Education Statistics, 2014: 10%
  6. Average in-state tuition for all schools offering programs for each degree, National Center for Education Statistics, 2014: 10%

Based on that analysis, here are the 50 majors that offer the best potential return on investment:

2016's Most Employable Degrees

1
Information Technology

  • Average annual salary, 2014: $104,954
  • Average projected job growth, 2014-2024: 21%
  • Number of schools offering programs in the field: 675
  • Average tuition cost, 2014-15: $10,897
  • Position in last year's ranking: 4
2
Business/Commerce, General

  • Average annual salary, 2014: $102,290
  • Average projected job growth, 2014-2024: 12%
  • Number of schools offering programs in the field: 1,083
  • Average tuition cost, 2014-15: $9,554
  • Position in last year's ranking: 7
3
Business Administration and Management, General

  • Average annual salary, 2014: $102,290
  • Average projected job growth, 2014-2024: 12%
  • Number of schools offering programs in the field: 2,743
  • Average tuition cost, 2014-15: $11,023
  • Position in last year's ranking: 9
4
Marketing/Marketing Management, General

  • Average annual salary, 2014: $107,116
  • Average projected job growth, 2014-2024: 15%
  • Number of schools offering programs in the field: 1, 033
  • Average tuition cost, 2014-15: $10,071
  • Position in last year's ranking: 13
5
Computer and Information Sciences, General

  • $95,725
  • Average projected job growth, 2014-2024: 14%
  • Number of schools offering programs in the field: 1,073
  • Average tuition cost, 2014-15: $9,232
  • Position in last year's ranking: 14
6
Computer Science

  • $93,040
  • Average projected job growth, 2014-2024: 16%
  • Number of schools offering programs in the field: 792
  • Average tuition cost, 2014-15: $14,126
  • Position in last year's ranking: 69
7
Computer Programming, General

  • $83,968
  • Average projected job growth, 2014-2024: 15%
  • Number of schools offering programs in the field: 591
  • Average tuition cost, 2014-15: $8,213
  • Position in last year's ranking: 12
8
Mathematics, General

  • $83,968
  • Average projected job growth, 2014-2024: 14%
  • Number of schools offering programs in the field: 1,466
  • Average tuition cost, 2014-15: $8,39
  • Position in last year's ranking: 126
9
Computer and Information Systems Security/Information Assurance

  • $92,797
  • Average projected job growth, 2014-2024: 17%
  • Number of schools offering programs in the field: 587
  • Average tuition cost, 2014-15: $12,944
  • Position in last year's ranking: 10
10
Finance, General

  • $101,202
  • Average projected job growth, 2014-2024: 11%
  • Number of schools offering programs in the field: 720
  • Average tuition cost, 2014-15: $13,563
  • Position in last year's ranking: 53
11
Network and System Administration

  • $94,900
  • Average projected job growth, 2014-2024: 17%
  • Number of schools offering programs in the field: 267
  • Average tuition cost, 2014-15: $11,624
  • Position in last year's ranking: 3
12
Management Science

  • $117,395
  • Average projected job growth, 2014-2024: 15%
  • Number of schools offering programs in the field: 130
  • Average tuition cost, 2014-15: $13,520
  • Position in last year's ranking: 27
13
Entrepreneurship/Entrepreneurial Studies

  • $124,213
  • Average projected job growth, 2014-2024: 10%
  • Number of schools offering programs in the field: 486
  • Average tuition cost, 2014-15: $8,085
  • Position in last year's ranking: 2
14
Information Science/Studies

  • $104,354
  • Average projected job growth, 2014-2024: 14%
  • Number of schools offering programs in the field: 477
  • Average tuition cost, 2014-15: $12,850
  • Position in last year's ranking: 11
15
Computer Engineering, General

  • $109,610
  • Average projected job growth, 2014-2024: 14%
  • Number of schools offering programs in the field: 276
  • Average tuition cost, 2014-15: $20,864
  • Position in last year's ranking: 43
16
Computer Systems Networking and Telecommunications

  • $86,443
  • Average projected job growth, 2014-2024: 21%
  • Number of schools offering programs in the field: 907
  • Average tuition cost, 2014-15: $10,089
  • Position in last year's ranking: 8
17
Psychology, General

  • $88,102
  • Average projected job growth, 2014-2024: 19%
  • Number of schools offering programs in the field: 1,653
  • Average tuition cost, 2014-15: $12,024
  • Position in last year's ranking: 89
18
Computer Software Engineering

  • $111,575
  • Average projected job growth, 2014-2024: 15%
  • Number of schools offering programs in the field: 106
  • Average tuition cost, 2014-15: $16,511
  • Position in last year's ranking: 37
19
Science Teacher Education

  • $79,364
  • Average projected job growth, 2014-2024: 12%
  • Number of schools offering programs in the field: 358
  • Average tuition cost, 2014-15: $10,458
  • Position in last year's ranking: 124
20
Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Engineering

  • $108,433
  • Average projected job growth, 2014-2024: 14%
  • Number of schools offering programs in the field: 6
  • Average tuition cost, 2014-15: $5,333
  • Position in last year's ranking: 218
21
Operations Management and Supervision

  • $88,830
  • Average projected job growth, 2014-2024: 10%
  • Number of schools offering programs in the field: 251
  • Average tuition cost, 2014-15: $11,870
  • Position in last year's ranking: 25
22
Computer Programming, Specific Applications

  • $96,090
  • Average projected job growth, 2014-2024: 17%
  • Number of schools offering programs in the field: 179
  • Average tuition cost, 2014-15: $8,577
  • Position in last year's ranking: 1
23
Information Technology Project Management

  • $105,903
  • Average projected job growth, 2014-2024: 15%
  • Number of schools offering programs in the field: 30
  • Average tuition cost, 2014-15: $12,796
  • Position in last year's ranking: 35
24
Applied Economics

  • $88,210
  • Average projected job growth, 2014-2024: 17%
  • Number of schools offering programs in the field: 49
  • Average tuition cost, 2014-15: $88,210
  • Position in last year's ranking: 235
25
Applied Economics

  • $77,518
  • Average projected job growth, 2014-2024: 26%
  • Number of schools offering programs in the field: 271
  • Average tuition cost, 2014-15: $12,974
  • Position in last year's ranking: 140
26
Social Science Teacher Education

  • $75,363
  • Average projected job growth, 2014-2024: 13%
  • Number of schools offering programs in the field:134
  • Average tuition cost, 2014-15: $11,118
  • Position in last year's ranking: 102
27
Nursing Practice

  • $90,487
  • Average projected job growth, 2014-2024: 25%
  • Number of schools offering programs in the field:185
  • Average tuition cost, 2014-15:$14,902
  • Position in last year's ranking: 68
28
Construction Engineering

  • $97,708
  • Average projected job growth, 2014-2024: 14%
  • Number of schools offering programs in the field:32
  • Average tuition cost, 2014-15:$11,511
  • Position in last year's ranking: 92
29
Family Practice Nursing

  • $79,477
  • Average projected job growth, 2014-2024: 30%
  • Number of schools offering programs in the field:228
  • Average tuition cost, 2014-15:$12,544
  • Position in last year's ranking: 151
30
Computer Software Technology

  • $96,090
  • Average projected job growth, 2014-2024: 17%
  • Number of schools offering programs in the field:19
  • Average tuition cost, 2014-15:$2,190
  • Position in last year's ranking: 5
31
Psychiatric/Mental Health Nursing

  • $79,477
  • Average projected job growth, 2014-2024: 30%
  • Number of schools offering programs in the field:59
  • Average tuition cost, 2014-15:$8,551
  • Position in last year's ranking: 256
32
Physics, General

  • $100,895
  • Average projected job growth, 2014-2024: 9%
  • Number of schools offering programs in the field:869
  • Average tuition cost, 2014-15:$11,405
  • Position in last year's ranking: 141
33
Mechanical Engineering

  • $99,980
  • Average projected job growth, 2014-2024: 11%
  • Number of schools offering programs in the field:350
  • Average tuition cost, 2014-15:$17,460
  • Position in last year's ranking: 87
34
International Business/Trade/Commerce

  • $128,880
  • Average projected job growth, 2014-2024: 11%
  • Number of schools offering programs in the field:556
  • Average tuition cost, 2014-15:$13,554
  • Position in last year's ranking: 26
35
International Business/Trade/Commerce

  • $128,880
  • Average projected job growth, 2014-2024: 11%
  • Number of schools offering programs in the field:556
  • Average tuition cost, 2014-15:$13,554
  • Position in last year's ranking: 26
36
Economics, General

  • $93,088
  • Average projected job growth, 2014-2024: 13%
  • Number of schools offering programs in the field:821
  • Average tuition cost, 2014-15:$12,797
  • Position in last year's ranking: 191
37
Marketing Research

  • $87,393
  • Average projected job growth, 2014-2024: 19%
  • Number of schools offering programs in the field:25
  • Average tuition cost, 2014-15:$9,947
  • Position in last year's ranking: 142
38
Marketing Research

  • $88,213
  • Average projected job growth, 2014-2024: 30%
  • Number of schools offering programs in the field:149
  • Average tuition cost, 2014-15:$6,624
  • Position in last year's ranking: 108
39
Political Science and Government, General

  • $98,960
  • Average projected job growth, 2014-2024: 14%
  • Number of schools offering programs in the field:1,197
  • Average tuition cost, 2014-15:$9,728
  • Position in last year's ranking: 91
40
Informatics

  • $106,257
  • Average projected job growth, 2014-2024: 20%
  • Number of schools offering programs in the field:31
  • Average tuition cost, 2014-15:$11,814
  • Position in last year's ranking: 96
41
Biology/Biological Sciences, General

  • $87,834
  • Average projected job growth, 2014-2024: 8%
  • Number of schools offering programs in the field:31
  • Average tuition cost, 2014-15:$9, 525
  • Position in last year's ranking: 170
42
Biostatistics

  • $100,298
  • Average projected job growth, 2014-2024: 16%
  • Number of schools offering programs in the field:65
  • Average tuition cost, 2014-15:$20,268
  • Position in last year's ranking: 210
43
Public Administration

  • $96,636
  • Average projected job growth, 2014-2024: 5%
  • Number of schools offering programs in the field:65
  • Average tuition cost, 2014-15:$12,540
  • Position in last year's ranking: 44
44
Computer Systems Analysis/Analyst

  • $83,725
  • Average projected job growth, 2014-2024: 15%
  • Number of schools offering programs in the field:137
  • Average tuition cost, 2014-15:$13,384
  • Position in last year's ranking: 20
45
Biology Teacher Education

  • $67,083
  • Average projected job growth, 2014-2024: 13%
  • Number of schools offering programs in the field:321
  • Average tuition cost, 2014-15:$8,963
  • Position in last year's ranking: 176
46
Medical Radiologic Technology/Science

  • $84,723
  • Average projected job growth, 2014-2024: 27%
  • Number of schools offering programs in the field:346
  • Average tuition cost, 2014-15:$9,694
  • Position in last year's ranking: 23
47
Communication Sciences and Disorders, General

  • $88,213
  • Average projected job growth, 2014-2024: 30%
  • Number of schools offering programs in the field:119
  • Average tuition cost, 2014-15:$7,516
  • Position in last year's ranking:76
48
Accounting and Finance

  • $92,523
  • Average projected job growth, 2014-2024: 11%
  • Number of schools offering programs in the field:102
  • Average tuition cost, 2014-15:$13,686
  • Position in last year's ranking:17
49
Financial Planning and Services

  • $86,923
  • Average projected job growth, 2014-2024: 18%
  • Number of schools offering programs in the field:71
  • Average tuition cost, 2014-15:$14,763
  • Position in last year's ranking:180
50
Electrician

  • $55,875
  • Average projected job growth, 2014-2024: 14%
  • Number of schools offering programs in the field:468
  • Average tuition cost, 2014-15:$3,887
  • Position in last year's ranking:66

Sources:
Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP) 2010 to Standard Occupational Classification (2010) Crosswalk, National Center for Education Statistics, 2010, Accessed Jan. 26, 2016, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/cipcode/resources.aspx?y=55
May 2014 National Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Bureau of Labor Statistics, March 25, 2015, Accessed Jan. 27, 2016, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_nat.htm
Economic and Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Dec. 8, 2015, Accessed Jan. 27, 2016, http://www.bls.gov/news.release/ecopro.toc.htm
Occupational Employment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics, March 25, 2015, Accessed Feb. 2, 2016, http://www.bls.gov/oes/tables.htm
Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2014-15, National Center for Education Statistics, Accessed Feb. 2, 2016, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/