Back To Career News

These 3 Schools and Degrees Have the Worst ROI


We’ve written a lot about the colleges and majors that offer their graduates the best return on investment for their tuition dollar. But what about the schools and degrees that have the worst? Using PayScale data, The Atlantic decided to find out.

graduation caps 

(Photo Credit: John Walker/Flickr)

Specifically, senior editor Derek Thompson was looking at the schools with 20-year net ROI of worse than negative-$30,000. (In other words, not going to school at all would be $30,000 more valuable than attending these colleges.) The top three on the list:

Do You Know What You're Worth?

1. Shaw University: -$121,000

2. Fayetteville State (Out-of-State): -$95,7000

3. Savannah State University (Out-of-State): -$82,300

And then there are the specific degrees with the lowest ROI:

1. Arts, at Murray State University: -$197,000

2. Humanities and English, at Florida International University: -$192,000

3. Arts, at Eastern Michigan University: -$187,000

Thompson includes several caveats with this data. For one thing, as he points out, the data comes from self-reported income, which could skew high.

“…[H]umans are a proud species, and we care more about our feelings than strict honesty with anonymous pollsters,” he writes.

Also, figuring out 20-year ROI is a tricky business, because it’s impossible to predict where the market will go and how schools will develop their programs in the future. In other words, if your major becomes the next hot thing or your school sinks some serious cash into developing programs that raise the value of your degree, you might see more of a return than today’s numbers would indicate.

Tell Us What You Think

Did your school give you a good return on your investment? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
Read more from Jen

Leave a Reply

1 Comment threads
0 Thread replies
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
1 Comment authors
Tracy Lazalde Recent comment authors
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Tracy Lazalde
Tracy Lazalde

Thanks-a-mundo for the article post. Want more.

What Am I Worth?

What your skills are worth in the job market is constantly changing.