Study: Computer Programming, Entrepreneurship Top List Of Degrees With Biggest ROI

A new cost-benefit analysis from highlights five top categories and the 50 best majors for getting the biggest bang for your buck when it comes to choosing a college degree.

Foster City, CA

Students looking to get the most for their money when it comes to college should consider degrees in information technology, computer programming, and business, according to a new study from that ranks programs based on which ones are likely to offer graduates the best return on their educational investment.

Increased college opportunities in the U.S. have led to double the number of students attending at the start of the 21st century, compared with the number enrolled in the mid-1900s. But the cost of college is rising, which means many students are looking at higher education from a cost-benefit perspective and trying to figure out which degrees are likely to give them the biggest bang for their tuition bucks.

The study ranked degrees based on their likelihood of leading to a high-paying, fast-growth career as quickly — and cheaply — as possible. Computer programming and entrepreneurship finished first and second, respectively, in the study, both with average annual salaries of more than $85,000 for graduates and above-average job growth. But the highest-rated categories for maximizing educational investment weren’t limited to computers — business/management, medical support, and retail and administration degrees rounded out the top five.

The top 10 degrees for return on investment, according to the analysis, are:

1. Computer Programming, Specific Applications
2. Entrepreneurship/Entrepreneurial Studies
3. Network and System Administration
4. Information Technology
5. Computer Software Technology
6. Osteopathic Medicine/Osteopathy
7. Business/Commerce, General
8. Computer Systems Networking and Telecommunications
9. Business Administration and Management, General
10. Computer and Information Systems Security/Information Assurance


This study analyzed employment opportunities related to different job categories. Factors included:
• Expected number of job openings in that field
• Number of related openings
• Average salary

These data points came primarily from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Occupational Statistics and Outlook reports, and were cross-referenced with details about currently available degree programs. Specifically:
• Number of schools offering programs in a specific job category
• Average cost-per-year of attending those schools
• Length of time required to obtain the degree needed to perform a specific job

The above data points also came from the BLS, as well as the Institute of Education Sciences’ National Center for Education Statistics.

For more information on the top five degree categories and to see a full list of the top 50 majors for return on educational investment, please visit