Conventional wisdom has it that getting a college education is the best way to build a long and prosperous career.
The more education you receive, the easier it should be to get a job. This is certainly true with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). Anyone who earns a degree in those studies is all but guaranteed a job right out of college.
But not all degrees are equal. In some areas of study, even earning a graduate degree doesn’t necessarily make it easy to find employment. The following 7 Master’s Degrees have proven to be ineffective, worse than most Bachelor’s Degrees even, at getting people jobs:
(Note: The following unemployment rates are sourced from this 2010 Georgetown study. To put these numbers in context, consider that at the time the unemployment rate for “experienced Bachelor’s degree holders” was 5%).
Master’s Degree in Film Video and Photographic Arts
(Unemployment Rate: 13.0%)
Society needs engineering and math and IT majors to function, so they will always be in high demand. The same is not true with film majors: as entertaining as it is to spend a night out at the movies, the world would not end as we know it if all of a sudden nobody was skilled in film video and photographic arts.
The superfluous nature of film, in general, is one issue, and an even bigger problem is that many famous directors have proven that you don’t need a degree to become a successful filmmaker.
“Film school is for fools. Live and learn how to make films. I didn’t go to film school. I just watched movies in the cinemas”. – Terry Gillam (Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Brazil).
A film studio, unlike, say, a pharmacy or a university, doesn’t really care if a prospective hire has a degree or not. The experience far outweighs education in this field.
Master’s Degree in Architecture
(Unemployment Rate: 7.7%)
There is some debate about whether the study of architecture is considered a subcategory of engineering or not. What is not debatable, though, is that it’s a lot easier to get a job with a Master’s Degree in Engineering than with a Master’s Degree in Architecture. There are only so many buildings to go around, apparently.
Master’s Degree in Fine Arts
(Unemployment Rate: 7.3%)
The same logic for why film majors face high employment applies here as well. Life would certainly be less rich without art, but it’s not something we need like healthcare or agriculture.
The upside to a Master’s Degree in Fine Arts is that it allows artists to make a decent living doing what they love (when they can find work) rather than spend their days at a job they hate. But still, this is far from the most practical degree you could get in terms of employment and earning power.
Master’s Degree in Commercial Art and Graphic Design
(Unemployment Rate: 7.1%)
Graphic design is seemingly more practical than fine arts, and yet the unemployment rates for graduate degree holders in these two fields are almost identical. Unfortunately, many businesses are willing to sacrifice quality for cost and have their most artistic staffer or intern handle art for the company rather than hire an experienced designer.
Master’s Degree in Drama and Theatre Arts
(Unemployment Rate: 7.0%)
The show must go on – but it may go on without you, considering the high unemployment rate that plagues drama majors.
Master’s Degree in an Obscure Foreign Language
(Unemployment Rate: 6.8%)
There’s an unemployment rate of just 3.7% for those with a Master’s Degree in French, German, and other common foreign languages. But those with a Master’s Degree in a more obscure language face nearly twice as much unemployment.
Master’s Degree in Mass Media
(Unemployment Rate: 6.7%)
It’s easier to get a degree in Mass Media than just about any other subject (especially compared to STEM), so it’s a fairly popular major. This has flooded the market with Mass Media degrees of all kinds. Open positions in this field usually attract a lot of qualified applicants, making it harder for everyone to actually get the job.
Money isn’t everything. If you love theater or designing houses, then sacrificing some job security may very well be worth pursuing your passion. But if being able to find a job easily is your top priority, then you can do a lot better than these degrees.