A Note on Interpreting the InformationBack to table of contents
This report supplies median earnings figures for each of the major academic fields. A median is valuable because it provides a succinct way of describing the middle of a population, but it may also mask considerable differences among individuals. It is important to keep in mind that there are graduates from each field who make considerably more, and others who make considerably less than the median. Please see the Humanities Indicators website for more information about the range of earnings found among each field’s graduates.
The fields also differ with respect to their graduates’ demographics and other characteristics. Where these characteristics are correlated with an outcome we are interested in—for example, earnings or job satisfaction—these differences among the makeup of the graduate populations of these fields have what are known as “compositional effects” on group outcomes. For example, bachelor’s degree recipients in the humanities are substantially more likely than degree recipients in engineering to be women. Thus, to the extent there is a gender gap in earnings (as reported on page 7), the median earnings for all humanities graduates will be more affected by that gap than graduates from engineering programs. For more detailed breakdowns of earnings by age and gender, see the Indicators website.