The 10 most useless graduate degrees

In many fields, graduate degrees offer distinct benefits for your extra years in school.

Employees armed with a graduate education are often a more attractive hire and can make a higher salary than colleagues who just have a bachelor’s degree.

However, for some industries the benefits of going to graduate school are comparatively low and don’t justify the extra investment.

Using the recent “Hard Times” report from the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce, we examined salary and unemployment data of experienced college graduates and experienced graduate degree holders. These are workers whose ages range from 35 to 54 years old.

For roughly 50 fields, we calculated how much more money a graduate degree will bring and the difference in unemployment rates for those with a post-college degree. These figures were then combined to determine which graduate degrees are the most “useless” — basically, which give you the smallest boost in salary and employment.

10. Criminal Justice and Fire Protection

An experienced graduate degree holder earns 19% more than a college graduate, and the unemployment rate is 18% lower.

Experienced college grads earn an average of $US63,000 a year, while experienced graduate degree holders earn $US75,000 a year, on average.

4% of experienced college grads are unemployed. 3.3% of experienced graduate degree holders are unemployed.

9. Computer Science

An experienced graduate degree holder earns 15% more than a college graduate, and the unemployment rate is 20% lower.

Experienced college grads earn an average of $US93,000 a year, while experienced graduate degree holders earn $US107,000 a year, on average.

4% of experienced college grads are unemployed. 3.2% of experienced graduate degree holders are unemployed.

8. Communications and Mass Media

An experienced graduate degree holder earns 19% more than a college graduate, and the unemployment rate is 16% lower.

Experienced college grads earn an average of $US63,000 a year, while experienced graduate degree holders earn $US75,000 a year, on average.

5.7% of experienced college grads are unemployed. 4.8% of experienced graduate degree holders are unemployed.

7. Chemical Engineering

An experienced graduate degree holder earns 13% more than a college graduate, and the unemployment rate is 21% lower.

Experienced college grads earn an average of $US104,000 a year, while experienced graduate degree holders earn $US118,000 a year, on average.

2.8% of experienced college grads are unemployed. 2.2% of experienced graduate degree holders are unemployed.

5. Social Work

An experienced graduate degree holder earns 9% more than a college graduate, and the unemployment rate is 22% lower.

Experienced college grads earn an average of $US44,000 a year, while experienced graduate degree holders earn $US58,000 a year, on average.

5% of experienced college grads are unemployed. 3.9% of experienced graduate degree holders are unemployed.

4. Commercial Art and Graphic Design

An experienced graduate degree holder earns 16% more than a college graduate, and the unemployment rate is 10% lower.

Experienced college grads earn an average of $US56,000 a year, while experienced graduate degree holders earn $US65,000 a year, on average.

7.1% of experienced college grads are unemployed. 6.4% of experienced graduate degree holders are unemployed.

*Numbers from 2010-2011

3. Computer and Information Systems

An experienced graduate degree holder earns 21% more than a college graduate, and the unemployment rate is actually 6% higher.

Experienced college grads earn an average of $US76,000 a year, while experienced graduate degree holders earn $US92,000 a year, on average.

4.7% of experienced college grads are unemployed. 5% of experienced graduate degree holders are unemployed.

*Numbers from 2010-2011

2. Marketing and Market Research

An experienced graduate degree holder earns 31% more than a college graduate, and the unemployment rate is 19% higher.

Experienced college grads earn an average of $US72,000 a year, while experienced graduate degree holders earn $US94,000 a year, on average.

4.3% of experienced college grads are unemployed. 5.1% of experienced graduate degree holders are unemployed.

10. Human Resources and Personnel Development

An experienced graduate degree holder earns 23% more than a college graduate, and the unemployment rate is 19% higher.

Experienced college grads earn an average of $US62,000 a year, while experienced graduate degree holders earn $US74,000 a year, on average.

5.7% of experienced college grads are unemployed. 6.8% of experienced graduate degree holders are unemployed.

Maybe you don't even need a graduate degree

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