What not to study: The 20 college majors with the highest unemployment rates

Petroleum engineering had the highest unemployment rate, at 7.5%, Bankrate found.

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Petroleum engineering had the highest unemployment rate, at 7.5%, Bankrate found.
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Christian Lagerek/Shutterstock

Having a high-paying job doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll have job stability, and vice versa.

Some college majors that lead to high-paying jobs also come with above-average unemployment rates – and that includes majors in fields like engineering, cognitive science, and the arts.

The financial-education company Bankrate found the unemployment rates for college majors, based on the most recent available data from the US Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. Using weighted data, Bankrate determined the unemployment rates and median incomes for graduates across 162 majors that employed at least 15,000 people.

The median income for degree-holders in the study was $55,000, and the average unemployment rate was 2.8%. Bankrate supplied Business Insider directly with the number of graduates employed in each major on the list.

The major with the highest unemployment rate was petroleum engineering, with 7.5% – despite graduates with that major having a median income of $87,600.

Here are the 20 college majors with the highest unemployment rates.


20. International relations

Number employed: 148,500

Median income: $60,000

Unemployment rate: 3.9%


19. Visual and performing arts

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Scott Varley / Digital First Media / Torrence Daily Breeze / Getty

Number employed: 78,200

Median income: $32,000

Unemployment rate: 4.1%


18. Commercial art and graphic design

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Getty Images/Hero Images

Number employed: 575,800

Median income: $41,800

Unemployment rate: 4.1%


17. Other foreign languages

source
Vivek Prakash/Reuters

Number employed: 78,600

Median income: $45,000

Unemployment rate: 4.2%


16. Industrial production technologies

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Gorodenkoff/Shutterstock

Number employed: 78,100

Median income: $71,000

Unemployment rate: 4.2%


15. Industrial and organizational psychology

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Sebastiaan ter Burg/Flickr

Number employed: 25,300

Median income: $50,000

Unemployment rate: 4.3%


14. Composition and rhetoric

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Klaus Vedfelt / Getty Images

Number employed: 89,600

Median income: $37,800

Unemployment rate: 4.4%


13. Mathematics and computer science

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University of the Fraser Valley/flickr

Number employed: 16,900

Median income: $99,000

Unemployment rate: 4.5%


12. United States history

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Wikimedia Commons

Number employed: 23,200

Median income: $55,000

Unemployment rate: 4.6%


11. Fine arts

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Rain of joy/Shutterstock

Number employed: 594,300

Median income: $37,000

Unemployment rate: 4.8%


10. Communication technologies

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Spencer Platt/Getty

Number employed: 93,600

Median income: $40,000

Unemployment rate: 4.9%


9. Actuarial science

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Jirapong Manustrong/Getty Images

Number employed: 17,600

Median income: $80,000

Unemployment rate: 5.1%


8. Public policy

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Emir Memedovski/Getty Images

Number employed: 43,000

Median income: $60,000

Unemployment rate: 5.1%


7. Drama and theater arts

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Igor Bulgarin/Shutterstock

Number employed: 244,200

Median income: $35,500

Unemployment rate: 5.2%


6. Miscellaneous fine arts

Number employed: 22,600

Median income: $38,000

Unemployment rate: 5.7%


5. Mass media

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Reuters

Number employed: 302,200

Median income: $40,000

Unemployment rate: 6.0%


4. Film video and photographic arts

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Evgeniy Shkolenko/Getty Images

Number employed: 185,400

Median income: $37,000

Unemployment rate: 6.5%


3. Materials engineering and materials science

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UC Davis College of Engineering/Flickr

Number employed: 35,100

Median income: $78,800

Unemployment rate: 6.6%


2. Cognitive science and biopsychology

Number employed: 17,400

Median income: $56,000

Unemployment rate: 6.7%


1. Petroleum engineering

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dgdimension/Shutterstock

Number employed: 25,500

Median income: $87,600

Unemployment rate: 7.5%