Humanities Indicators
Facebook Twitter YouTube
Workforce  >  Earnings & Occupations of Humanities Majors
 
Earnings of Humanities Majors with an Advanced Degree

The indicators under the topic “Earnings of Humanities Majors with a Terminal Bachelor’s Degree” use data from the American Community Survey (ACS) to document the earnings of workers whose highest academic degree is a bachelor’s degree in the humanities. The indicators here examine the earnings of humanities majors who go on to obtain an advanced degree. (The advanced degree can be in any field. The ACS only provides field-of-degree information only for the undergraduate degree.)

Findings and Trends

  • In 2013, 42% of humanities majors possessed at least one advanced degree (see Supplemental Table 4). Median annual full-time earnings for humanities majors holding an advanced degree in any field were $71,000 (Indicator III-4e; all earnings estimates presented here are for full-time workers and are rounded to the nearest $1,000).[1]
  • Male humanities advanced degree holders (ADHs) reported annual median earnings of $82,000, as compared to $63,000 among their female counterparts.
  • The median earnings for male ADHs who had majored in the humanities were most similar to those of behavioral and social science majors who obtained an advanced degree, though these workers’ median earnings were still $9,000 higher. The median earnings of male humanities ADHs were 74% of those of male life sciences ADHs, the highest-earning group, and 87% of the median earnings of all male ADHs.
  • Female humanities ADHs made approximately 71% of what female engineering ADHs did (engineering majors were the top earners among women), but virtually the same as all female ADHs considered together. As was true for men, the median earnings of female ADHs with humanities degrees were most similar—equal, in fact—to those of female behavioral and social science majors who later earned advanced degrees.
  • The gender earnings gap for humanities ADHs, 23%, was considerably higher than the 16% found among holders of terminal bachelor’s degrees in the humanities (Indicator III-4f). The gap was smaller than in the sciences and business but substantially higher than in engineering, education, and the arts. (In keeping with the practice of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the gap was calculated by dividing the difference between men’s and women’s median earnings by men’s median earnings.)
  • Looking at both genders together, the boost in median earnings for humanities majors who obtained an advanced degree was 42% (Indicator III-4g). (The “boost” is calculated as a proportion of terminal bachelor degree holders’ earnings. For the dollar amounts into which these proportions translate, see the supporting table associated with this indicator.) The boost for humanities majors was greater for men (49%) than for women (37%). For female humanities ADHs, the boost was closest in magnitude to that experienced by ADHs with bachelor’s degrees in business and education. For male humanities ADHs, the field with the most comparable boost was the behavioral and social sciences. For each of the genders the humanities’ boost was considerably lower than that for life sciences majors, the group of ADHs that realized the greatest monetary boost, in percentage terms, from their advanced degrees (85% for men; 71% for women).
  • Among humanities majors who pursued an advanced degree, those who earned their undergraduate degree in non-U.S. history had the highest median wages, $77,000 (Indicator III-4h). Those who obtained their bachelor’s degree in art history earned the least, with median wages of $60,000.[2]
  • The undergraduate humanities majors who enjoyed the greatest boost in median earnings (65%) from the attainment of an advanced degree were holders of bachelor’s in less commonly studied languages other than English (Indicator III-4i). Majors in art history and criticism who pursued advanced training experienced the least substantial earnings boost, though these workers’ median earnings were still 25% higher than those who held terminal bachelor’s degrees in the discipline. (For the dollar amounts into which these percentages translate, see the supporting table associated with this indicator.)
III-4e: Median Annual Earnings of Full-Time Workers with an Advanced Degree, by Gender for Selected Fields of Undergraduate Degree, 2013*

* Full-time workers are those who worked 35 or more hours per week for 50 or more weeks in the previous 12 months. Advanced degree may be in any field. Fields are arranged in descending order of earnings for both genders.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2013 American Community Survey Public-Use Microdata Sample.

About this DataRelated Indicators
../cmsData/xls/III-4e.xlsx../cmsData/ppt/III-4e_1.ppt../cmsData/pdf/III-4e_1.pdf
III-4f: Gender Earnings Gap among Full-Time Workers with an Advanced Degree, by Field of Undergraduate Degree, 2013*

* The earnings gap is the difference between male and female median annual earnings expressed as a percentage of male median earnings. Full-time workers are those who worked 35 or more hours per week for 50 or more weeks in the previous 12 months. Advanced degree may be in any field.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2013 American Community Survey Public-Use Microdata Sample.

About this DataRelated Indicators
../cmsData/xls/III-4f.xlsx../cmsData/ppt/III-4f.ppt../cmsData/pdf/III-4f.pdf
III-4g: Boost in Median Annual Earnings Associated with Obtaining an Advanced Degree, by Gender and Field of Undergraduate Degree, 2013*

* For full-time workers; that is, those who worked 35 or more hours per week for 50 or more weeks in the previous 12 months. Advanced degree may be in any field. Fields are arranged in descending order of boost for both genders. The “boost” is calculated as a proportion of terminal bachelor degree holders’ earnings. For the dollar amounts into which these proportions translate, see the supporting table associated with this indicator.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2013 American Community Survey Public-Use Microdata Sample.

About this DataRelated Indicators
../cmsData/xls/III-4g.xlsx../cmsData/ppt/III-4g.ppt../cmsData/pdf/III-4g.pdf
III-4h: Median Annual Earnings of Full-Time Workers with an Advanced Degree, by Discipline of Undergraduate Humanities Degree, 2013*

* Full-time workers are those who worked 35 or more hours per week for 50 or more weeks in the previous 12 months. Advanced degree may be in any field. Earnings data for advanced degree recipients with undergraduate majors in U.S. history were not included because the size of the survey sample was insufficient to yield an estimate of adequate precision. For this same reason, a gender breakdown was not possible.
** Languages other than English.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2013 American Community Survey Public-Use Microdata Sample.

About this DataRelated Indicators
../cmsData/xls/III-4h.xlsx../cmsData/ppt/III-4h.ppt../cmsData/pdf/III-4h.pdf
III-4i: Boost in Median Earnings Associated with Obtaining an Advanced Degree, by Discipline of Undergraduate Humanities Degree, 2013*

* For full-time workers; that is, those who worked 35 or more hours per week for 50 or more weeks in the previous 12 months. Advanced degree may be in any field. The “boost” is calculated as a proportion of terminal bachelor degree holders’ earnings. For the dollar amounts into which these proportions translate, see the supporting table associated with this indicator. Data on the earnings boost for for U.S. history majors are not presented because the size of the survey sample was insufficient to yield an estimate of adequate precision. For this same reason, a gender breakdown was not possible.
** Languages other than English.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2013 American Community Survey Public-Use Microdata Sample.

About this DataRelated Indicators
../cmsData/xls/III-4i.xlsx../cmsData/ppt/III-4i.ppt../cmsData/pdf/III-4i.pdf

Endnotes

[1] All earnings estimates are for the 12 months preceding response to the ACS.

Indicator III-4e also presents separate earnings estimates for men and women. To present only the median for all workers for each field would be misleading, because gender is a key determinant of wages, and academic fields differ with respect to the gender composition of their degree-holder populations.

While Indicator III-4e supplies the median earnings level of majors in different academic fields, the supporting table associated with the indicator (and also the table associated with Indicator III-4g) provides additional information intended to capture the range of these workers’ earnings. The range of “typical” or “usual” values exhibited by a population of persons or objects is described through the use of a statistic referred to as the interquartile range, which ignores the most extreme values of a sample distribution. Quartiles are statistics that divide the observations of a numeric sample into several groups, each of which contains 25% of the data. The lower, middle, and upper quartiles are computed by ordering the values for a particular variable (earnings, in this case) from smallest to largest and then finding the values below which fall 25%, 50%, and 75% of the data. The middle quartile is also known as the median. The lower quartile and the upper quartile define the interquartile range.
[2] Earnings data for advanced degree recipients with undergraduate majors in U.S. history were not included because the size of the survey sample was insufficient to yield an estimate of adequate precision.