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Humanities Majors Don’t ‘Catch Up’ to Peers, Report Says

Inside Higher Ed

The Humanities Indicators, a project of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, has released new findings on the earnings and occupations of humanities majors.

Among the findings: older humanities majors do indeed make more than younger humanities majors. But there’s no evidence that their earnings ever “catch up” to peers in other disciplines.

“For instance, older humanities graduates earned less than their younger counterparts relative to degree holders in the life and physical sciences, and even though the gaps narrowed relative to engineering and business majors, they still remained,” the project said in a release. About 25 percent of humanities graduates were earning more than $109,000 in their “peak earning years,” which are 48 to 59.

Among the other earnings data reported: in 2018, bachelor’s degree holders in the humanities earned a median of $58,000. That's compared to $63,000 for all bachelor's degree holders. Bachelor's degree holders in the humanities did make 66 percent more than workers with only a high school diploma.

For those with advanced degrees in the humanities, median annual earnings were $78,000, compared to $86,000 for advanced degree holders generally. About 40 percent of humanities graduates have an advanced degree.

Unemployment for humanities graduates was slightly higher than the average for college graduates, but lower than the average for those with only a high school diploma.

The report also illuminated some gender differences in earnings data. Humanities graduates in general received a 34 percent earnings boost from an advanced degree, but that increase was substantially greater for men than it was for women. Among graduates with humanities bachelor’s degrees, women earned 16 percent less than men. Among humanities graduates with advanced degrees, women made 22 percent less than men.

The most likely occupations for humanities graduates were in the education, management and legal fields.

View full story: Inside Higher Ed



Humanities Indicators

Norman Marshall Bradburn and Robert B. Townsend