The 12 most meaningful majors

For some students, changing the world is more important than earning a high salary.

With this in mind, salary research site PayScale recently ranked the most meaningful majors. Researchers identified the majors based on one of the questions answered by the 2.3 million graduates representing 2,700 colleges and universities who have completed PayScale's employee earnings survey. Researchers looked at the percentage of respondents who answered affirmatively to the following question: Does your work make the world a better place?

The top 12 most meaningful majors in the ranking are:

1: Pastoral Ministry

2: Medical Laboratory Science

3: Music Therapy

4 (tie): Counseling

4 (tie): Diagnostic Medical Sonography

4 (tie):  Occupational Therapy

4 (tie): Physical Therapy

8 (tie): Christian Ministry

8 (tie): Nuclear Medicine Technology

10 (tie): Radiation Therapy

10 (tie): Respiratory Care

10 (tie): Therapeutic Recreation

The fact that health care and education jobs dominate the list shows that people who work directly with other people tend to believe their jobs are the most meaningful, PayScale editors write.

And while many of the careers on the list have lower salaries when compared with fields listed on PayScale's highest salaries list, graduates who go into these fields generally do so out of passion, the editors add. There are signs that for some students, such as first-generation students, giving back to their community may be a high priority (PayScale ranking, accessed 9/8; PayScale methodology, accessed 9/8).

Revisiting the career outcomes conversation


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