The U.S. is currently enjoying a healthy 4.1% unemployment rate, exactly eight years after it hit a modern high of 10%. Although this means that workers of all types currently have an easier time finding employment, college graduates typically fare better than those who only have a high school diploma. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that high school graduates have a 4.3% unemployment rate while individuals with a Bachelor’s degree or higher enjoy a rate of only 2%.

While it’s clear that a college degree helps one’s employment prospects, studies have shown that some degrees are in much higher demand than others. To see which college majors boast the best employment numbers, StudySoup, a college learning community, decided to dig through the data to see which majors have the lowest unemployment rates for recent graduates.


To determine which majors have the lowest unemployment rates for recent graduates, StudySoup’s research team looked at data provided by the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey and published by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. They analyzed unemployment rates, underemployment rates, and the median wages for college graduates aged 22-27. The unemployment and underemployment rates are for individuals with a bachelor’s degree or higher, while the median salary only includes individuals working full time that have earned a bachelor’s degree but did not go on to complete graduate school. Figures represent the averages from 2014-2015.

Here are the top 10 majors that have the lowest unemployment rates.lowest unemployment majors

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Family and Consumer Sciences

Unemployment Rate: 2.8%

Underemployment Rate: 44.6%

Median Wage Early Career: $30,000

Family and Consumer Sciences involve the management and economics of all community and home-based relationships, including their surrounding environment. This major can be used as a springboard for many industries, including education, nutrition and wellness, hospitality, and human development. The median salary for newcomers is only $30,000, but there’s a lot of room for growth; the average annual salary for experienced workers is $60,000.

civil engineering major

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Civil Engineering

Unemployment Rate: 2.7%

Underemployment Rate: 18.7%

Median Wage Early Career: $54,000

Civil Engineering encompasses each aspect of designing, constructing and maintaining everything from buildings to bridges. This rapidly expanding industry is expected to grow 11% by 2026. Civil engineers who stick with their career can expect to eventually achieve a median wage of $83,540.

nursing major

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Unemployment Rate: 2.5%

Underemployment Rate: 12.8%

Median Wage Early Career: $50,000

Nursing is a critical part of the healthcare industry, and while it’s a competitive field, those with a nursing degree are in high demand. The future looks equally bright with the number of registered nurses expected to increase by 15% over the next decade.

secondary education major

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Secondary Education

Unemployment Rate: 2.4%

Underemployment Rate: 25.6%

Median Wage Early Career: $34,500

This degree typically opens employment opportunities to teach at the high school level in both public and private schools. While the starting median wage for graduates with a degree in Secondary Education may seem low, educators who build a career in Secondary Education can work toward an industry median wage of $58,030.

early childhood education major

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Early Childhood Education

Unemployment Rate: 2.1%

Underemployment Rate: 22.8%

Median Wage Early Career: $30,000

Those who complete a degree in Early Childhood Education are well-prepared for careers as preschool teachers, child care center directors, educational consultants, and other professional positions. Though Preschool teachers typically have low salaries, there is a lot of room for salary growth at the kindergarten level. The median wage for all kindergarten teachers in the U.S. is $52,620, which is almost $24,000 more than the expected preschool teacher wage.  

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Nutrition Sciences

Unemployment Rate: 2.1%

Underemployment Rate: 50.1%

Median Wage Early Career: $36,000

Nutrition Sciences include a long and diverse list of career opportunities, ranging from clinical dietician to a position with the USDA. The path one takes will have a big impact on their overall salary and career prospects, but overall, the unemployment rate looks very good for individuals majoring in Nutritional Sciences. For instance, experienced dieticians boast a median salary of $58,920.

elementary education major

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Elementary Education

Unemployment Rate: 2%

Underemployment Rate: 18.6%

Median Wage Early Career: $33,600

The Elementary Education field employs nearly 1.4 million individuals and includes teachers that are qualified to provide the basics on a diverse list of academic and social topics. As with most educational careers, starting salaries aren’t very high. However, teachers that stick with the teaching profession can expect to see a gradual increase to an industry median of $55,800.

agriculture major

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Unemployment Rate: 1.9%

Underemployment Rate: 57.3%

Median Wage Early Career: $36,000

Agriculture is a broad field, offering many areas of study for students interested in how a society produces and consumes food. Post graduation, employment opportunities range from farm management to soil science. While agriculture salaries often vary widely by occupation and location, some positions are very lucrative. For example, Soil and Plant Scientists in California see a mean annual wage of $82,350.

special education major

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Special Education

Unemployment Rate: 1.1%

Underemployment Rate: 17.3%

Median Wage Early Career: $35,000

Some argue that working in special education is a calling, but for those that hear it, there are plenty of opportunities. Although most students who major in special education will find jobs as special education teachers, other positions are available as well, including roles as special education administrators and assistive technologies specialists.

construction services major

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Construction Services

Unemployment Rate: 1%

Underemployment Rate: 36%

Median Wage Early Career: $50,000

Undergraduates majoring in Construction Services will study topics such as building codes and specifications, construction safety, and electrical systems. Some programs even allow students to specialize in a particular field such as project management or construction technology. While the degree can be used for a number of occupations, Construction Managers typically achieve the highest earnings with a median salary of $89,300. This subsection of the Construction Services industry is also expected to experience an 11% increase in job openings by 2026.

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