State of the Humanities 2021: Workforce & Beyond

Share of College Graduates Who Are Satisfied with Their Life, by Field of Bachelor’s Degree, 2019

Back to table of contents
Humanities Indicators

Share of College Graduates2 Who Are Satisfied with Their Life, by Field of Bachelor’s Degree, 2019

Ask a college graduate whether they are satisfied or dissatisfied with their life, and they are highly likely to report that they are satisfied—regardless of their field of degree. Approximately 90% of college graduates from each of the major fields indicated as much.3 So why, one might ask, is there a perception that graduates from some fields—most notably the humanities—end up worse off after earning their degree?

This report unpacks that assumption, presenting what high-quality national data reveal about differences among fields in the career and other life outcomes of their graduates. Identifying the sources of these differences—understanding the “why” behind the “what” presented in these pages—will require further research.


  • 2This report describes two populations. The population mentioned here, “college graduates,” includes everyone with a bachelor’s degree from the field, regardless of whether they went on to earn an advanced degree. Other graphs refer to “terminal bachelor’s degree holders,” which excludes graduates with an advanced degree.
  • 3Gallup Alumni Survey, 2019 (custom data analysis performed by Gallup for the Humanities Indicators, 2021; a description of the survey’s methodology is available here). The values presented in this graph (and every other one in this publication) are estimates derived from data collected from a sample of the population.

    Regardless of the data source, the “health and medical sciences” field-of-degree category used in this publication includes nursing, pharmacy, and other fields of study designed to prepare students for specific medical vocations. Most students who go on to earn an M.D., D.D.S., or D.V.M., however, will not have earned an undergraduate degree of this type. While these students may have been on what their institution refers to as a “pre-med track,” their major is most often in biology, which is included in the “life sciences” field-of-degree category (or “natural sciences,” depending on the data source).