Deciding what you want to major in (and potentially spend the rest of your life doing) isn't the easiest or quickest decision to make. Everyone has a different reason for choosing their career - whether it be monetary satisfaction, job flexibility, pure passion and interest, or the ability to advance and grow. Although you can change your major while in college, it still costs money to stay in school and earn your degree.
Based on a recently published list by OnlineDegrees.com and featured in USA Today News, the majors listed below were found to get the "most bank for your buck" – that's one reason to get a degree. This is based on average annual salary, projected job growth, programs offered, and average tuition costs*. The leading majors tend to be technology and business-related, followed by those in the STEM fields.
We don't want to just stop at a list of profitable majors - we want to help make your college education more affordable, so we've compiled a list of free scholarships which you can apply to, and hopefully win to help fund your higher education. Be sure to create a profile to get a full, comprehensive list of scholarships for which you may qualify.
The road to becoming a psychiatrist is long and narrow - consisting of science-heavy coursework and many years of schooling and training. But the payoff may well be worth it - the average annual salary is well above $79,000 for the majority of states and more than 59 schools offer programs in the field. The Gallagher Student Health Careers Scholarship Program awards stellar college students who are pursuing a health career with up to $7,500 per scholarship.
If you are African-American student pursuing psychiatry, or any medicine-related field, check out the CBCF General Mills Health Scholarship, which awards $2,000 for well-qualifying students who have a minimum 2.75 GPA. For related scholarships, be sure to look at psychology, science, and medical scholarships for an extensive list and details.
If you've dreamt of being the CEO of your own business and have the capacity and willingness to manage your own business venture, you may be an entrepreneur at heart. Peter Thiel has taken initiative to support those who think out of the box and are willing to take a risk - he established a $10,000 grant to support entrepreneur endeavors. The catch? You just have to drop out of school if you win the grant. If you're not yet ready to do that, there are other scholarships that will reward your entrepreneur dreams while in school, like the Social Entrepreneur Award worth $10,000 in seed grant for students at participating Washington member institutions. You'd be surprised that roughly 477 schools offer programs in this discipline and successful independents go on to make over $120,000 a year.
For some, working with their hands - whether it be on car engines, electrical circuits, or pipes - brings gratification and highlights skills that don't necessarily mirror traditional education. A large majority of the skills necessary to compete in the 21st-century global market requires vocational training. That is why organizations such as The Nexstar Legacy Foundation Management in Plumbing, HVAC, or Electrical offers scholarships to people who are pursuing the trades or intending to own and operate their own business. This includes electricians, who on average, make more than $55,000 annually and have access to over 468 programs. For more electrician scholarships or general vocational scholarships, click here.
Do you have what it takes to take an idea to the marketplace? To design a product not only for aesthetics but for functionality? You'd probably enjoy mechanical engineering. From the automotive to the aerospace, biotechnology, energy conversion, and manufacturing industry, mechanical engineers are crucial in their ability to analyze and create/design objects and systems with motion. With over 350 available programs, mechanical engineers make an average salary of over $99,000. If you're ready to get into gear and study mechanical engineering, check out the SSPI Scholarship program or the Nexstar Legacy Foundation Management in Plumbing, HVAC or Electrical Scholarships.
Accounting, Finance, & Math
Even though your classmates may have preferred classes like gym, art, English or humanities, you may not mind formulas, equations, and calculators. In fact, you may very well think best in numbers. For math whizzes, not only are there bountiful job opportunities, but salaries can climb up into the six digits (even non-math geniuses know that's a lot). Organizations like AFWA seek to award students who are pursuing an accounting or finance degree. Though the two disciplines are separate entities, they often share similar job positions and skill sets that are math-based.
Exclusively for accounting majors who plan on becoming CPAs is the AICPA Accountemps Student Scholarship - worth up to $10,000. If you're a graduate student in finance and plan on working in local or state government finance, you may qualify for the Government Finance Professional Development Scholarship. And there are of course scholarships for minority undergraduates who have that same endeavor to work in state and local government finance, through the Minorities in Government Finance Scholarship. If you love math in general and haven't decided a set career path, check out the Exxonmobil Bernard Harris Math and Science Scholarships or the Women in Engineering and Design Book Scholarship.
One of the most honorable, and demanding jobs to have is that of an educator, as they are responsible for cultivating, nourishing, and educating the minds of our society's youth. There are however, certain disciplines in teaching that get paid more than others, and those are in biology, social science, and science. If you attend a Christian college and are planning to study primary or secondary education, you may qualify for the Herman and Katherine Peters Foundation Scholarship. Teachers have certain benefits as well, such as for retirement, medical/dental care, etc., and there are also grants like the Illinois Special Education Teacher Tuition Waiver Program for those pursuing a career in special education, that exempts students from paying tuition and mandatory fees for up to four years. There are other scholarships reserved for minority students such as the Leon Bradley Scholarship Program. For a complete list of education scholarships and grants, click here.
Some things are just too difficult to see with the naked eye, so technology allows us to have a better view from a different perspective using medical imaging techniques, such as x-rays, CT, MRI, PET, and ultrasound. Radiologists are specialized in analyzing and interpreting medical injuries through these images, as well as knowing radiation safety and protection. The average annual salary in radiologic technologies is approximately $84,700 with over 346 programs offered. The Carle Auxiliary Scholarship awards students who are pursuing radiologic sciences or other health-care disciplines. For other health-care scholarships, visit here.
There's more to economics than math. People in economics-related fields study how people use their resources - from land to labor, investments, taxes, production, government spending, etc. They seek to understand and measure how these affect well-being. There are various specializations in economics but in general, the average salary for economists is $93,088. The NSHSS Business, Economics, & Public Policy Scholarship awards outstanding students looking to positively impact the 21st-century global economy. If you already have a BA in economics and are seeking a Master's degree - and also at least 50 percent Asian - you may qualify for the Hsiao Memorial Economics Scholarship. For more economics scholarships, check out this list.
(Geo)environmental Science & Engineering
While majors such as business and technology have remained in the top ranks for the best potential return on college investments, geotechnical engineering is one of the up and coming fields. It is a branch of engineering that focuses on geologic and geosynthetic materials for issues related to human health and the environment. The average salary is $108,433, but is not offered at many colleges. If you want to apply for scholarships based on this interest, check out scholarships that require study in civil engineering, and environmental science or engineering. Also, check out the AREMA Committee 5 - Track Scholarship or the Nexstar Legacy Foundation Technicians in Plumbing, HVAC, or Electrical Scholarships.
Our social landscape - our schools, communities, and workplaces - as well as economic structure (and much of everything we deal with daily) is affected by politics. You don't have to be a senator or the President with a political science major. People who wish to make a difference in their communities through the political system - whether through being an urban policy planner or lobbyist - seek degrees in political science, and are compensated fairly well (an average of $98,000/year). Scholarships for political science majors tend to include other disciplines such as history, government, or economics, like the Enid Hall Griswold Memorial Scholarship and the Aziz Jamaluddin Scholarship. For a full list of political science scholarships, visit here.
Just like geoenvironmental science, information systems is a major that has recently gained much popularity and demand. Along with business majors, it ranks one of the most profitable majors. In fact, the U.S. Department of Commerce claims that the most highly sought out graduates are those who have both business and computing skills - after all, Information Systems is a business degree with the application of information technology (IT). To support women in the field, the Kris Paper Legacy Scholarship for Women in Technology provides financial aid to a graduating female high school senior or returning female college student who is pursuing study in a tech-related field. Or if you are a current undergraduate student with an IS major, you may qualify for the CITE Current Student Tuition Scholarship. For more information systems scholarships, visit our technology scholarships.
Business majors, whether in commerce, administration, or management, have ranked amongst the top best-paying majors for quite some time, and still remain in high standing. Business degrees can be applied to virtually any industry, so to view business scholarships based on specific industries, check out our full list here. Reported average salaries are around $102,000 a year and are offered at more than 1,000 schools. Whether you are a female, someone with dependent children, a minority student, or a current college student, you have many scholarship opportunities from which to choose. Make it your first order of business to check out these scholarships and apply.
*Note: Average annual salaries and the number of schools that offer degree programs were computed by the National Center for Education Statistics and Bureau of Labor Statistics.
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