20 Worst-Paying College Degrees in 2010

Lynn O'Shaughnessy

If you want to avoid the worst-paying college degrees, think twice before choosing a college major that involves children.

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Included among the 20 worst-paying college degrees are elementary education, special education, social work and child and family studies. That's the conclusion of the latest annual study of college degrees by Payscale, Inc. that compiled starting and mid-career pay for dozens of college majors.

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Child and family studies earned the honors as the worst-paying college major. The average graduate earns a beginning salary of $29,500. What's equally discouraging is that the salary of someone in this field will barely budge after 15 years in the profession.

Food is another common theme for students who major in the worst-paying college degrees. Students who earn degrees in horticulture, dietetics and the culinary arts are more likely to end up struggling financially.

Worst-Paying College Degrees in 2010

College Degree

Starting Pay

Mid-Career Pay


1. Child and Family Studies

$29,500

$38,400

2. Elementary Education

$31,600

$44,400

3. Social Work

$31,800

$44,900 4. Athletic Training $32,800 $45,700 5. Culinary Arts $35,900 $50,600 6. Horticulture $35,000 $50,800 7. Paralegal Studies/Law $35,100 $51,300 8. Theology $34,700 $51,300 9. Recreation & Leisure $33,300 $53,200 10. Special Education $36,000 $53,800 11. Dietetics $40,400 $54,200 12. Religious Studies $34,700 $54,400 13. Art $33,500 $54,800 14. Education $35,100 $54,900 15. Interdisciplinary Studies $35,600 $55,700 16. Interior Design $34,400 $56,600 17. Nutrition $42,200 $56,700 18. Graphic Design $35,400 $56,800 19. Music $36,700 $57,000 20. Art History $39,400 $57,100


If you'd rather end up with one of the best-paying college degrees, you'll have to major in something that requires a lot of math classes.

Lynn O'Shaughnessy is the author of The College Solution, an Amazon bestseller, and she also writes for TheCollegeSolutionBlog.

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