Hispanics earn less than Whites and Asians no matter what their specific undergraduate major, with few exceptions – including Public Relations, one of the majors with the lowest median earnings for Hispanics.

A new study confirms that Hispanics make less—in some cases, much less—than their White and Asian counterparts, no matter what their undergraduate major. Even in one of the highest-paying majors for Hispanics, Chemical Engineering, Hispanics make $36,000 less than their White counterparts.

Using United States Census data available for the first time, the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce is helping Americans connect the dots between college majors and career earnings. In the new report, What’s it Worth? The Economic Value of College Majors, this research demonstrates just how critical the choice of major is to Hispanic median earnings, and how Hispanics continue to be segregated by race in choice of major.

Hispanics are most concentrated in Law and Public Policy majors (10% of people in these majors are Hispanic), and Engineering majors (9%). They are extremely underrepresented in Agriculture and Natural Resource majors (4%).

While there is a lot of variation in earnings over a lifetime, the authors find that all undergraduate majors are ‘worth it,’ even taking into account the cost of college and lost earnings. However, the lifetime advantage ranges from $1,090,000 for Engineering majors to $241,000 for Education majors.

Some of the findings include:

The top 10 majors with the highest median earnings for Hispanics are: Mechanical Engineering ($70,000); Civil Engineering ($65,000); Management Information Systems and Statistics ($65,000); Computer Science ($62,000); Electrical Engineering ($60,000); Computer and Information Systems ($60,000); Chemical Engineering ($59,000); Architecture ($59,000); Nursing ($58,000); and Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering ($56,000). They make more than African-Americans but less than Whites and Asians in most of these majors.

The 10 majors with the lowest median earnings Hispanics are: Theology and Religious Vocations ($30,000); Advertising and Public Relations ($38,000); General Education ($38,000); Social Work ($38,000); Mathematics ($40,000); Physical and Health Education Teaching ($40,000); Biology ($40,000); Psychology ($40,000); Elementary Education ($40,000); and Fine Arts ($40,000). Hispanics make less than their White, Asian, and African-American counterparts in almost all of these majors.

The analyses contained in this report are based on newly released data from the 2009 American Community Survey (ACS). For the first time in this survey the Census Bureau asked individuals who indicated that their degree was a bachelor’s degree or higher, to supply their undergraduate major. Their responses were then coded and collapsed by the Census Bureau into 171 different degree majors. Unlike other data sources focused on recent degree recipients, the Census data enables analysis across an individual’s full life cycle.

Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce (http://cew.georgetown.edu) is an independent, nonprofit research and policy institute that studies the link between individual goals, education and training curricula and career pathways.

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