Top 10 Majors with the Most Jobless Graduates


Overall, U.S. grads aren’t doing well in the job department, but some majors are performing particularly poorly.

We’ve all heard recent stories of college graduates forced to take jobs at Starbucks to make ends meet, but is it an MBA behind the counter or a psychology major? We’ll take a look at several majors in the U.S. that have more than 10% of their graduates unable to find jobs, and some even closer to 20%. Students with concerns about finding a job shortly after graduation would do well to seek out different areas of study, but keep in mind, a degree from any of these majors still beats out the 22.9% unemployment rate for high school grads.


It’s rough out there for psychology majors. Historically, this area of study has been the least-employable of all the sciences, and these days, it’s no different. Graduates of clinical psychology have the highest unemployment rate of any major at 19.5%. Although other psychology specialties are doing better, it’s not by much, with a 10.5% unemployment rate for educational psychology, and 10.4% rate for industrial and organizational psychology. Why do psychology grads have so much trouble finding jobs? There just aren’t that many out there, with the BLS reporting only 174,000 psychologist jobs in the U.S. Although the job outlook is growing faster than average, with such high unemployment rates, it’s clear that it’s not growing quite fast enough.

Fine Arts

Another major that’s had trouble for years is in the fine arts. Although we’re sure that most artists are driven by a love of their craft more than the promise of employment, there’s no denying that their unemployment rate of 16.2% is a little scary. However, specializing does seem to help, as film, video, and photographic artists have just a 12.9% unemployment rate, and commercial art and graphic designers do even better with a rate of 11.8%. Drama and theater arts majors are easily the most employable arts majors with a 7.8% unemployment rate that beats the national average of 8.2%.

U.S. History

Those who don’t remember history may be doomed to repeat it, but those who major in U.S. history may be doomed to extended unemployment, with a high unemployment rate of 15.1% that’s nearly twice the national average. Although the job outlook for historians is growing about as fast as average, there isn’t room for much new blood, with a total of just 4,000 jobs in 2010. Planning on going into politics for better job prospects? Don’t bother. Political science and government majors don’t do a whole lot better, with a 9.1% unemployment rate.

Library Science

Libraries are essential to education and communities, but thanks to budget cuts, library closures, and new technologies, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for librarians to find a job. In fact, the job outlook for the next decade or so is a scant 7%, slower than the national average. Perhaps that’s why library science has one of the highest unemployment rates today, at an embarrassing 15%.

The world isn’t doing away with librarians, but they’re sure cutting back on their library staff. Librarians face stiff competition when it comes to jobs, and some library science grads are taking their skills to other industries that can make better use of their research and analytical skills, including market research and information systems management.


Like librarians, it’s hard to imagine a world without architects. But it seems that architecture grads just hitting the market have a really hard time getting started in their careers, with a dismal unemployment rate of 13.9%. But there’s good news for those who can muddle through: architecture has an excellent job outlook, with a growth rate that’s faster than average, as well as an above-average median annual wage of $72,550.

Information Systems

Information systems managers boast smoking hot median salaries of $115,780. Perhaps that’s why so many new grads have decided to enter the market, making it difficult for many to actually find a job. Although careers for information systems managers are growing about as fast as average, unemployment for new grads remains high at 11.7%. Grads who want to stick with computers and information can try other careers with better rates, like computer science’s low 7.8% unemployment rate, and computer administration management and security’s 9.5%.

Military Technologies

With a median income of $86,000, jobs for military technologies majors are great if you can get them, but with an unemployment rate of 10.9%, it’s becoming difficult. But despite difficulties that military technologies graduates may face, overall, opportunities within the armed forces should be excellent.

Philosophy and Religious Studies

With an unemployment rate of 10.8%, philosophy and religious studies graduates often have a tough time when it comes to finding a job, and many will typically go on to become post-secondary teachers in the field. But the good news is, students who took on college jobs or internships in the field do much better, with experienced grads enjoying a low unemployment rate of 6.8%. Experienced grads will earn more as well, with median earnings of $48,000 to an inexperienced grad’s $30,000.

Linguistics and Comparative Literature

Students who focus on words and literature tend to get the short end of the stick when it comes to employment, and linguistics and comparative literature grads are no exception, with a 10.2% unemployment rate. Like grads of philosophy and religious studies, these students often end up turning to teaching at the postsecondary level. Overall, language grads don’t have it easy, but English language and literature students do have a more reasonable unemployment rate of 9.2%.


Humanities is one of the most difficult majors to connect with a direct path to employment. It’s such a broad area of study that it can lead grads in many different directions, including postgraduate study, teaching, and work in the media, advertising, or even finance. But even with so many different options, humanities grads are struggling with a 9.4% unemployment rate.


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About the Author: Melissa Venable, PhD is an Education Writer for Melissa’s background includes work in higher education – private, public, and for-profit – as an instructional designer and curriculum developer. Melissa is also an experienced instructor, academic advisor, and career counselor working with both undergraduate and graduate students. She is actively involved in research related to online education and the support of online students. Her work has been published in The Career Development Quarterly, TechTrends, the Journal of Computing in Higher Education, and the Journal of Online Learning and Teaching.



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