UC Irvine Return on Investment by Major for Your College Degree

PayScale has put out its Return On Investment (ROI) results for twenty years after graduation for 2017.  It computes an overall graduate ROI, and separate ROIs for eight majors or groups of majors.  The PayScale ROI website is http://www.payscale.com/college-roi

The ROI is the total household income over 20 years after graduation, minus the total cost of the college, and the household income level from before college.   The comparison high school only graduate has income for 24 years.  This survey only covers those who have a bachelor’s degree, and who did not go on for an advanced degree.  It also only includes those with a regular or yearly salary.  With all of the approximations, the rankings to the three figure accuracy of the ROI are only indicative.

For UC Irvine, the four year cost for in state students is $124,000.  The four year cost for out-of-state students is $218,000.  The average outstanding loans are $21,300.  PayScale gives rankings in all categories or majors, but they are just indicative.

The ROI for all UCI graduates after 20 years is $498,000.

We list the majors from highest to lowest ROI, which are all positive, and do not imply any value judgements.  The UCI ranking is in parenthesis.

Computer Science and Math (21):  $862,000

Engineering  (110):  …………………… $816,000

Economics (101):  ……………………..  $571,000

Business (159):  …………………………  $482,000

Science Majors (45 tie):  …………….  $385,000

Psychology (41):  ……………………….. $293,000

Humanities (49 tie):  ………………….. $282,000

Arts (136 tie):  ……………………………  $150,000

Update:  In the New University student newspaper of March 14, there is an article by Megan Cole, titled “ICS and Engineering Enrollment Up as Humanities and Biological Sciences Decline”.  Also under Humanities, over 10 years, English and History majors have fallen by half, and Art History declined by 2/3.

Over five years, undergraduate Engineering has grown 20% from 2,777 to 3,318.  ICS has increase a factor of 2.6 from 802 to 2,105.   Biological Sciences has fallen by 28% over seven years, from 4,341 to 3,142.

It’s evidence that the entering or progressing students are well aware of the compensation numbers.  That may be by this PayScale survey, or the Internet, or from word of mouth.  I don’t know yet if the surge of students from China has enhanced ICS (Information and Computer Sciences) and Engineering, but I suspect it has..

The difficulty in the Humanities enrollment drop, is that upper division or graduate speciality classes cannot be taught unless there is a given number of students.

About Dennis SILVERMAN

I am a retired Professor of Physics and Astronomy at U C Irvine. For a decade I have been active in learning about energy and the environment, and in lecturing and attending classes at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at UC Irvine.
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