All those parents who have told their college students, "And you're going to feed yourself with a literature major?" can now arm themselves with concrete numbers.
Researchers at Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce used new Census numbers to estimate how much different degrees will earn people throughout their lives. In some cases, the researchers found, the difference between majors was as much as 300 percent.
A petroleum engineer's median earning, for example, is $120,000, whereas a counseling or psychology major's median earning is $29,000.
"The bottom line is that getting a degree matters, but what you take matters more," Anthony P. Carnevale, the Center's director, said in a press release.
In a lot of ways, the study confirms much of what we already knew, but the AP reports it's based on "first-of-its-kind Census data." Among the things the study confirms:
-- Engineering majors make the most money, but the major isn't very popular.
-- The most popular major group is business, which is the third most profitable.
The study also found a pay gap between men and women in all major groups. The smallest gap was among humanities and liberal arts majors, where women earned $7,000 less than men.
You can look up your major at the study's website. Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.