College Guide


December 11, 2012 3:18 PM What You Study Does Not Determine Where You Work

By Daniel Luzer

I wrote earlier today about Vermont’s discussion about charging different tuitions to people with different majors. One of the difficulties with this is as policy that the majors that might lead to lucrative jobs are more expensive to administer. Do you want to encourage students to choose cheap majors or get high-paying jobs?

Another problem is that a major is just not the same thing as a career track. A recent fun info graphic illustrates this well. Here’s a look at the majors and career choices of Williams College graduates. The majors are on the left; the jobs are on the right.


(Go here for a larger image.)

People with the same majors choose all sorts of different paths. And while it’s true that that’s a pretty solid line between an economics major and careers in banking and finance, note that there’s also a pretty healthy contingent of bankers who majored in political studies, history, and English.

Yes, there is a connection between what one studies and how one eventually makes a living. But it’s pretty indirect.

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer


  • Karen Falgore on January 08, 2013 2:04 PM:

    Thank you for you blog post, I agree with you. I know people that have studied archeology and they are now working in sales and have found that they love business. As Daniel said there really can be a connection between what you study and what you do for work but not always. Its becoming more popular to mix things up if you want to.
    -Karen Falgore