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Dollar Amounts on Degrees

New data from the US Census Bureau helped researchers assign financial values to bachelor's degrees, by major, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education. More specifically, "in 2009, the American Community Survey, the tool the bureau uses to collect annual estimates of population characteristics, included a new question asking respondents with a bachelor's degree to give their undergraduate major." With that information, Georgetown University's Anthony Carnevale and his colleagues were able to sift through and couple it to the US Census income data, and found that, indeed, "it does matter what major you are in," he tells the Chronicle. "For workers whose highest degree is a bachelor's, median incomes ranged from $29,000 for counseling-psychology majors to $120,000 for petroleum-engineering majors," the Chronicle says. The data show that individuals with bachelor's degrees in biomedical engineering earn a median income of $68,000; in biological engineering, $55,000; in computer programming and data processing, $56,000; in microbiology, $60,000; and in molecular biology, $45,000. The Chronicle adds that Carnevale's team also "uncovered significant earnings differences by gender and race," though in technical fields, those differences were smaller.

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