Top 8 Online Majors With The Highest Roi For 2015

With a large number of college major choices available to students, ‘just any’ degree isn’t enough anymore. People want to ensure that their hard-earned money is invested into a degree that will lead to ample job opportunities and high earnings.
A bachelor’s degree holder typically makes $2.4 million dollars on average in his or her work-life, according to the US Census Bureau. A major wise earnings break down reveals that some degrees make their holders more money than others. Based on earnings data from the US Census Bureau and cost data from the National Center of Education Statistics, below is a list of online college majors that provide the highest return on investment for bachelor’s degree holders in the graduating batch of 2015.


ROI: 31.5%
Occupation(s) with Highest Earnings: Management

The age old favorite, engineering continues to be a popular choice among students and employers alike, with the highest return on investment. The US approximately has 1.6 million engineering jobs mainly comprising of civil engineers, mechanical engineers, industrial engineers and electrical engineers. Other areas you can move into include petroleum engineering, mining and geological engineering, biomedical engineering, and industrial engineering. The occupation which makes engineers the most amount of money is management, creating total work-life earnings of $4.1 million. 

Computers, Mathematics & Statistics

ROI: 27.8%
Occupation(s) with Highest Earnings: Management

Following engineering, we have computers, mathematics and statistics with a return on investment of 27.8%. Students with a major in this field end up working in various capacities; as computer system analysts, database administrators, computer programmers, software developers, computer network architects, statisticians etc. The highest paying occupation for computers, math and statistics majors is management, with average work-life earnings of nearly $3.7 million.

Physical & Related Sciences

ROI: 23.14%
Occupation(s) with Highest Earnings: Computer and Math/Management
Physical and Related Sciences share the third spot with two other majors with an ROI of 23.14%. With a degree in physical and related sciences, you are typically prepared to take on society’s big problems, especially ones relating to the environment. Typical careers include working as chemists, geoscientists or physicists using knowledge of composition of molecular matter, physical make up of the Earth and interaction of matter and energy. People making the most money with a major in physical and related sciences are either working in the computer and math sector, or employed in management jobs with average work-life earnings of $3.4 million.

Science and Engineering Related Fields

ROI: 23.14%
Occupation(s) with Highest Earnings: Computer and Math/ Management/ Architecture & Engineering  
Sharing the third spot with physical and related sciences is science and engineering related fields with the same return on investment figure. Graduates with this major work in relatively different fields than pure engineering graduates. They are usually employed as registered nurses, nurse practitioners, speech-language pathologists, physicians and surgeons, pharmacists etc. The occupations with the highest earnings for science and engineering related fields’ graduates though, are computer and math, management and architecture and engineering, each making their holders an approximate $3 million in work-life earnings.


ROI: 23.14%
Occupation(s) with Highest Earnings: Management
Also in third place on this list is Business, with a return on investment same as that for the last two majors discussed. Business has been a popular major choice with students, managing to land the highest number of enrollments than any other major and the highest employment in 2011. This popularity can be attributed to the vastness of the field and the variety of career paths it creates. For instance, with a major in business, you can work as an event planner, executive assistant, financial analyst, business administrator, accounts manager, human resource manager, investment broker and research manager. The highest paying occupation for this major is management, with average work-life earnings amounting up to $3.3 million.

Social Sciences

ROI: 22.21%
Occupation(s) with Highest Earnings: Management
Coming in at number four on the list for highest ROI majors is Social Sciences. This field of study lays a powerful academic foundation, providing its students with skills valued by employers. Instilling qualities such as good oral and written communication, interpersonal, technical, teamwork, analytical and organizational skills, a social science degree opens up a variety of career options for its holders. You can work as an academic advisor, administrative assistant, correctional worker, paralegal, sales/marketing representative, registered nurse, service manager and so on. However, the highest paying career for a social science major is management, with a total of $3.4 million in work-life earnings.


ROI: 20.35%
Occupation(s) with Highest Earnings: Management
At the fifth spot is communications with an ROI of 20.35%.Communications majors study subjects like journalism, mass media, advertising and public relations and communication technologies. They are typically employed by advertising agencies, electronic media, radio, television and broadcasting companies, print or electronic news houses, theatre or performing arts centers etc. They are also hired into management positions by businesses, working in various capacities such as sales representatives, public information officers, admission counselors etc. Management happens to be the highest paying career for communications majors, with a work-life earning of $3.1 million.

Biological, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences

ROI: 20.35%
Occupation(s) with Highest Earnings: Computer and Math
Sharing the fifth spot with communications is the biological, agricultural and environmental sciences’ field. This area of study revolves around general agriculture, agriculture production and management, animal sciences, food science, soil science, microbiology, zoology, genetics, botany, biochemical sciences and so on. As for careers, students with this major work in various capacities, analyzing, determining and monitoring environmental changes and calculating methods of positively contributing to the biological, agricultural and environmental process. The highest paying occupation for this major is computer and math, with work-life earnings of $3 million.

Literature and Languages

ROI: 18.50%
Occupation(s) with Highest Earnings: Computer and Math
At number six is the literature and languages major with a return on investment of 18.5%. This major deals with the study of linguistics, comparative language and literature, common foreign language studies including French, German and Latin, composition and speech etc. Language and literature majors are typically equipped to work in media and journalism, publishing, advertising and public relations, teaching and arts. The highest paying occupation for literature and language majors however, is computer and math, earning them $2.9 million in work-life earnings.

Liberal Arts and History

ROI: 18.5%
Occupation(s) with Highest Earnings: Management
Liberal Arts and History majors share the sixth spot with literature and languages. This could be attributed to the fact that both these majors stem from the arts and humanities field. Liberal arts majors earn nearly $2.4 million in terms of work-life earnings in the arts and media sector and surprisingly enough, a high $2.8 million in the science sector. They can land jobs such as sales associates, design and graphic designers, teachers and social workers. The occupation that makes these majors the largest amount of money is management, adding up to $3 million in work-life earnings.


ROI: 17.57%
Occupation(s) with Highest Earning: Architecture and Engineering
Psychology lands at number seven on the list for highest ROI majors. Students in this field are exposed to subjects like educational psychology, clinical psychology, criminal psychology, experimental and counseling psychology, social, industrial and organizational psychology. Typical careers for psychology majors include case management, career counseling, rehabilitation services and psychiatric technicians. However, their ability to asses client needs, keep accurate records, advocate, communicate well, and understand human behavior makes them eligible for a vast variety of careers that require strong interpersonal skills. Therefore, not surprisingly, the highest paid occupation for these majors is not directly relevant to psychology; it is the field of architecture and engineering with work-life earnings of $3.5 million.

Visual and Performing Arts

ROI: 17.57%
Occupation(s) with Highest Earnings: Management/Architecture & Engineering
Visual and Performing Arts majors share the seventh spot with psychology. These students are exposed to subject areas like fine arts, drama and theatre, music, commercial art and graphic design, film video and photographic arts, art history and criticism and studio arts. With an understanding of artistic creativity and a strong sense of visual literacy, visual arts majors are employed as designers in textile firms, fashion coordinators, pattern makers, film producers, photographers, cartoonists, cinematographers, film critics, screen writers, museum curators, painters and so on. This major helps students develop technical and critical thinking and career adaptability skills. The highest earning occupations for these majors are management and architecture and engineering, creating a total work-life earning figure of $2.8 million.


ROI: 15.71%
Occupation(s) with Highest Earnings: Computer & Math/Architecture & Engineering
The last major on the list of top 8 online majors with the highest ROI in 2015 is education, with a return on investment of 15.71%. Education majors study educational administration and supervision, school student counseling, elementary and secondary education, physical and health education training, early childhood education, language and drama education, arts, music, social science and history education along with special needs education. Depending on what career path you wish to take, you can customize your bachelor’s degree accordingly. Surprisingly enough, education majors earn $1.8 million in education careers. Their highest paying occupation in terms of cumulative work-life earnings is either computer and math or architecture and engineering, making them $2.6 million each.


States with the highest employment level in this occupation:



Employment per thousand jobs

Location quotient

Hourly mean wage

Annual mean wage

California 1660 0.11 1.26 18.13 37720
Florida 1130 0.14 1.68 17.97 37370
Illinois 960 0.16 1.92 17.9 37240
Texas 760 0.07 0.78 16.62 34570
New York 650 0.07 0.85 20.12 41840


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