Sara Routhier, Managing Editor of Features and Outreach, has professional experience as an educator, SEO specialist, and content marketer. She has over five years of experience in the insurance industry. As a researcher, data nerd, writer, and editor she strives to curate educational, enlightening articles that provide you with the must-know facts and best-kept secrets within the overwhelming worl...

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Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity-backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency, Real Time Health Quotes. He also has an MBA from the University of South Florida. ...

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Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder, CFP®

UPDATED: Feb 8, 2021

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Any parent with a college-aged student knows that the rising cost of tuition isn’t slowing down. Fortunately, not all majors are as expensive as others. Since the cost of declaring for a major and taking the required classes can vary from affordable to expensive, it is important to review and discuss different majors before declaring for one. Expensive college majors require more money, which usually necessitates borrowing more college loans as far as cash-strapped parents and students are concerned.

According to a 2011 Cornell study, the number of universities and colleges which charge different levels of tuition depending on a student’s chosen major is on the rise. As more and more learning institutions charge higher tuition in general, and as the job market adjusts in the wake of the ongoing “Information Age,” it will soon become very clear to young graduates just how expensive their college major choice will be.

To help out young students and borrowers, here is a list of the top 5 most expensive college majors based off a study by Georgetown University.

1. Counseling/Psychology

While television may enjoy showing wealthy tweed-jacketed psychologists giving therapy to clients reclining on expensive leather couches in posh private offices, the truth is that the median annual income for Psychology degree holders and Counselors is at $29,000. This is especially worrying since the average level of college loan debt for a related degree hovers at $27,000. This would make repaying a Psychology or Counseling degree especially difficult, particularly when one factors in compounding interest payments.

2. Early Childhood Education

Educators, the longtime nurturers of the nation’s children, come in second place. They have a median income of $36,000. This should come as no shock since teachers have long been underpaid. It seems that the same goes for those educators of young children. While it is debatable whether teachers should be paid more, budget cuts across many states leave little room for salary increases.

3. Theology and Religious Vocations

For those in this line of profession the median income is $38,000. While theology and religious vocations aren’t the most in-demand professions, they still manage to earn nearly $10,000 more than counselors and psychologists.

4. Human Services and Community Organizations

Despite performing an active role in the community, these majors earn a measly $38,000 on average per year. Majoring in these fields can lead to nebulous employment prospects. It remains to be seen how professionals in Human Services and Community Organizations can continue to function with their uncommonly-known degrees that overlap with Social Workers and Counselors.

5. Social Work

Social workers earn $39,000 on average as their median income. While this places them more than $10,000 above the average student loan debt level, it does little to shield them from national budget cuts. Social Workers have to contend with many states slashing budgets in order to remain solvent, so their employment prospects aren’t exactly bright.

Considering the soaring costs of college tuition, a quick glance at this list should show that these non-STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) fields aren’t exactly raking in the cash. Mounting student loan debt, combined with these tuition costs should give people some pause before majoring in these fields. The wrong major could mean four years of somewhat wasted time and a lifetime repaying debt using a salary that doesn’t yield much.