Strategy is key if you want your resume to impress hiring managers. Choosing your major in a volatile job market often feels like taking a shot in the dark. One wrong decision could plague your professional career for years. Employers have changed what skills they look for in a candidate and your useless college degree could leave you standing in the dust while the world continues without you.
Career site Zippia analyzed which majors have the highest unemployment rates. Earn one of these 15 useless college degrees, and you could find yourself embarking on an uphill battle for employment. But we’re not in the business of providing unfortunate information without offering a solution. We’ve also included alternative, related majors that stand a better chance of impressing employers.
15. Computer science
- Unemployment rate: 8.39%
- Alternative major: Computer and information systems (6.86%)
Computer science degrees are one of the most lucrative college degrees out there today — you just have to land a job with it first. Zippia notes the unemployment rate associated with this major is 8.39%, rendering it one of the top 15 majors in terms of unemployment.
You’ll have a better shot at employment if you chose a more relatable college major like computer and information systems. This major is more popular and has a much lower unemployment rate according to data.
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14. Multi-disciplinary or general science
- Unemployment rate: 8.57%
- Alternative major: Chemistry (6.42%)
Some of the country’s highest-paying jobs are in science and engineering. But as you’ll see as we work through this list, graduates with general science-related degrees are less likely to charm employers with their education.
The good news is that a more specialized degree in the same field of study can do wonders for your employment chances. Chemistry, for instance, boasts an unemployment rate much closer to the national average of about 4%.
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13. Advertising and public relations
- Unemployment rate: 8.71%
- Alternative major: Marketing and marketing research (6.62%)
Employers understand their bottom line is influenced by the company’s ability plan, create, and execute effective advertising campaigns for their audience. But Zippia data suggests employers prefer marketing degrees to PR degrees when it comes to their recruiting efforts. Both degrees are similar in design, but marketing majors have a far greater chance at landing an interview than advertising professionals.
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- Unemployment rate: 8.74%
- Alternative major: Social Science or history teacher education (1%)
A separate Zippia study showed that history majors rarely land a job in their desired field upon graduation. In fact, their first job is usually a sales representative, administrative assistant, or teacher.
Teacher pay varies from state to state, but if history majors have any hope of attracting employers to their online job application, they may want to consider combining education and history into one field of study. Social science and history teachers have the lowest unemployment rate overall at just 1%.
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- Unemployment rate: 8.76%
- Alternative major: Biochemical sciences (4.22%)
Almost every college curriculum requires a biology course here and there. But when it comes to job outlook, it may be wise to limit how many biology classes you enroll in during your undergraduate tenure.
Employers are less likely to hire someone with a biology degree than they are someone who targeted to a more applicable need. A degree in biochemical sciences can just about double your chances of employment, according to survey results.
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10. Communication technologies
- Unemployment rate: 9.40%
- Alternative major: Computer engineering (6.63%)
Surely communication technology degrees hold a lot of value in Silicon Valley, but for those who aren’t willing to subject themselves to that environment may have a tougher time wading through the job market. Hiring managers seek versatile degrees that can be utilized in a variety of ways. So people with an interest in communication and, well, technology, would be better served with a more useful major like computer engineering.
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9. Intercultural and international studies
- Unemployment rate: 9.93%
- Alternative major: Sociology (7.66%)
Sociologists study all forms of society and help make sense of sociological issues plaguing the community. A sociology degree is in the same vein as intercultural and international studies degree, except it has a better chance of attracting the eye of an employer after graduation.
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8. Ethnic and civilization studies
- Unemployment rate: 10.84%
- Alternative major: International relations (8.39%)
This major is very similar to intercultural and international studies degrees. But your ability to immerse yourself within a particular demographic for research is not necessarily attractive to today’s employers. You can, however, transmit your fascination with other cultures into an international relations degree where you’d have a greater chance of long-term employment.
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7. Fine arts
- Unemployment rate: 10.90%
- Alternative major: Art and music education (4.71%)
There is no other graduate who hears the “what are you going to do with that?” question more than a fine arts major. We suggest you choose a different college degree for the annoyance factor alone — but also because many hiring majors see little value in this course of study.
You can add value as a candidate by marrying your passion for art with education. Art and music education majors have a more reasonable unemployment rate of just 4.71%.
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6. Mass media
- Unemployment rate: 10.92%
- Alternative major: Journalism (7.18%)
Mass media degrees seem like a wise choice at first. After all, who wouldn’t want to hire someone with the ability to quickly transmit information on a global scale? Employment data shows graduates with this degree have a higher unemployment ranking than those who choose similar field of study like journalism.
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5. Film video and photographic arts
- Unemployment rate: 11.24%
- Alternative major: General Business (6.79%)
Your chances of landing a job as a videographer or photographer for a company is slim, mostly because there are not too many job opportunities available. If being behind the lens is a talent of yours, consider a business major that’ll help catapult you into entrepreneurship. Working for yourself in this industry is far more doable.
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4. Drama and theater arts
- Unemployment rate: 11.42%
- Alternative major: Language and drama education (4.11%)
Making it as an actor is never easy — no matter how born you were to pour out emotions in front of an audience. Drama and theatre arts is another useless college degrees few hiring managers know what do do with. Bit if you still feel destined for stardom, you might want to choose a different major like language and drama education, which stands a better shot at landing you a paying gig in the future.
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3. Anthropology and archaeology
- Unemployment rate: 11.76%
- Alternative major: Theology and religious vocations (6.06%)
It’s pretty clear that folks with a history or English degree on their resume will have a tougher time trekking through the job market. Anthropology, commonly lumped together with archaeology, is the study of humanity and how culture influences their beliefs.
Rather than committing to this major with a double-digit unemployment rate, consider a related major such as theology and religious vocations to analyze why humans behave the way they do. This degree has a much lower unemployment rate at just 6.06%.
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2. Environmental science
- Unemployment rate: 11.79%
- Alternative major: Natural resource management (2%)
The Bureau of Labor Statistics says the need for environmental scientists is growing faster than average. Still, Zippia data notes this highly specialized field poses an issue for job seekers attempting to stand out in a crowd.
Still, how humans can better protect the environment is a hot topic among companies and the rest of the world, so choosing another major like natural resource management could give you a better shot at employment. Their unemployment rate is just 2%.
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1. Composition and rhetoric
- Unemployment rate: 17.54%
- Alternative major: English language and literature (7.92%)
The CEO of The New York Times predicts print media has only 10 more years of life left, but that doesn’t mean composition and media is dead. The need for writing professionals in digital media is expected to increase as people change how they consume information. Hiring managers will be scouring the web for resumes that include valuable majors in this industry — one of which is not composition and rhetoric.
This major’s unemployment rate creeps dangerously close to 20%, which makes it the most useless college degree. But the rate for English language and literature is much lower at just 7.92%, and is a much better option for you.
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