A recent study by the National Bureau of Economic Research found that majoring in business can substantially increase students' earnings, reports Jullian Berman for Market Watch.
Researchers compared salary outcomes for Texas students who were just above and just below the academic cutoff for admission to a school's business program, Berman writes. This means the two groups of students were nearly identical—except that one group majored in business and the other did not—says study co-author Scott Imberman, an economics professor at Michigan State University.
Researchers found that the students who did study business earned between 81% and 130% more within 12 years of graduating than the students who do not major in business, Berman writes.
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Another finding from the study was that women had the largest earnings gains, Berman writes. While the researchers did not determine exactly why, some of their results suggest that women in the study would have majored in a STEM field if they hadn't majored in business. Because of this, they may have had skills that the men in the study were lacking, making them more competitive in the job market, Berman writes.
Business and related majors such as finance have long been on the list of the most popular majors for college students because of potential earnings and employability outcomes. However, not everyone feels that studying business still has benefits. Some undergraduate business majors are less likely to be interested in their work, have a sense of purpose in their careers, and feel supported while in school compared with other popular fields of study, according to a 2014 Gallup study (Berman, Market Watch, 7/19).
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