Men dominate most lucrative college degrees, Bankrate study reveals

As the new academic year gets underway, a new report reveals a gender gap among the most lucrative degrees.

Of those who hold the top 20 highest-earning bachelor’s degrees, 78% are men and 22% are women according to the analysis from which looked at the median income of 151 majors.

Those degrees focused on STEM subjects – science, technology, engineering, and mathematics – are dominant in the degrees most likely to lead to roles with the highest wages, while all of the majors in the top 20 have median incomes of at least $85,000 with the top six nudging into six digits.

While men hold the largest share of the top 20 by far, women lead for Pharmacy, Pharmaceutical Sciences, and Administration (44%), and Health and Medical Preparatory Programs (54%) but they do not make up more than one third of holders for any of the other majors in the top 20.

“Despite making progress in recent decades, men continue to disproportionately dominate college majors that lead to the highest salaries in the workforce,” said Bankrate analyst Alex Gailey. “The fact that the male-female gender gap in lucrative college majors remains so vast after decades of women outnumbering men on college campuses suggests that women are still playing catch-up.”


Women hold a larger share of degree majors that tend to mean lower wages.

These include Early Childhood Education (96% female; median salary: $43,000), Communication Disorders Sciences and Services (93%; median salary: $57,000), Family and Consumer Services (90%; median salary: $45,000), Elementary Education (90%; median salary: $48,400), and Nursing (89%; median salary $70,000).

“Women continue to be overrepresented in college degrees that result in lower wages compared to men,” added Gailey. “But even when women do study male-dominated majors and earn similar qualifications, they are still paid less than their male counterparts once they enter the workforce. It suggests work done by women isn’t valued as much in our economy.”

As well as impacting their ability to grow wealth, these lower incomes may also contribute to women feeling less financially secure according to Bankrate research which shows that 64% of women with college degrees do not feel financially secure (vs. 36% of men) and 21% of women do not believe they ever will achieve financial security (vs. 16% of men).

“Gender segregation in high-paying college majors, which translates to pay gaps

between men and women in the labor market, is a systemic issue,” concluded Gailey. “But there are ways women can empower themselves to achieve their financial goals. Practice pay transparency with your colleagues, do as much research as possible on salaries for workers with your educational level and experience, get comfortable with negotiating and create a solid financial plan.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *