Good news for history majors

Historians in the News
tags: history crisis

Robert B. Townsend is the Director, Washington Office of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences.

Related Link Study finds humanities majors land jobs and are happy in them

Email communication from Robert Townsend to HNN about a new report from the American Academy of Arts & Sciences.  

As of 2015, the median earnings for history majors in the workforce with just a bachelor’s degree were $53,000, while those who had gone on to earn an advanced degree (which could be in any discipline) had median earning of $80,000. Earnings for history majors were among the highest in the humanities, falling slightly below the median among those with only a bachelor’s degree (as the median for communication majors was $55,000), but above graduates from all other humanities disciplines among those with an advanced degree (where the median was $72,000).

[One study shows] a 17% gender gap between the median earnings of male and female history majors in the workforce with just a bachelor’s degree. This was slightly below the average for all humanities majors (20%) and substantially smaller than the gap among all college graduates (27%).

These updates about earnings are tied to a new report on humanities majors in the workforce, which tries to look beyond earnings, and finds that when it comes to job satisfaction and perceived well-being, humanities majors are pretty much the same as graduates from every other field. Among the key findings in the new report:

● Almost 87% of workers with a bachelor’s degree in the humanities reported they were satisfied with their jobs in 2015, comparable to graduates from almost every other field.

● Over three-quarters of humanities graduates saw themselves at or approaching “the best possible life,” which was similar to the shares among engineering and natural science graduates. Education majors had the highest level on this measure.

●  The academic fields were quite similar with respect to their graduates' level of satisfaction with their personal financial situations in 2014. Among graduates from engineering, barely 50% reported “I have enough money,” while among humanities and education graduates, the share was 42%.

● More than a million graduates with bachelor’s degrees in the humanities were employed as managers in 2015, and almost 60% of humanities graduates report managing or supervising employees as part of their job (which was equal to the share of all graduates).

● While much of the report points to similarities between the fields, there was one notable difference: only 30% of graduates with a bachelors in humanities perceived a close relationship between their job and their degree in 2014, while more than a third saw no relationship. This differed substantially from graduates with science and professional degrees.

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