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Most Employable Degrees 2015

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For most, the goal of going to college and getting a degree is to improve job prospects. Students hope that the knowledge and skills they gain in school, coupled with the credential they receive upon graduation, will help them on the path to a meaningful and well-paying career. But when it actually comes time to find employment, graduates may be surprised to see all degrees are not equal.

Four years of residency is still the choice for most high school graduates. But given the rising costs of degree programs, combined with the fact that jobs which might have once gone to high school grads now require a B.A., many families are thinking about college through the lens of cost-benefit, trying to figure out which degree from which institution is likely to give them the biggest "bang for their buck.”

If you are one of the people approaching your degree choice through such a cost-benefit framework, the following study produced by OnlineDegrees.com is designed to provide a ranking of which programs are likely to give you the best return on your educational investment.

Methodology

This study started by looking at employment opportunities related to different degree fields. Factors taken into consideration included:

• Expected number of job openings in that field

• Number of related professions

• Average salary of all related professions

This information was based primarily on Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Statistics and Outlook reports (their most recent data was published in 2013).

That material was then cross-referenced with details regarding currently available degree programs, specifically:

• Number of schools offering programs in a specific degree category

• Average cost-per-year at those schools

• Length of time required to obtain the degree

Some of this data also came from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as well as from the Institute for Educational Sciences' National Center for Educational Statistics.

The goal of an analysis synthesizing employment opportunities with the availability and cost/time commitment required to earn a degree was to rank majors based on their likelihood to lead to a high-paying/fast-growth career in as little time (and with as little cost) as possible.

While this review will close with some recommendations as to how to best approach such a ranking, some immediate caveats as you look over the following high-ranking job categories include:

• Even recently published data is based on historic information, so keep in mind that rankings are influenced by statistics from the early 2010s or before.

• It can sometimes be difficult to understand how specific degree fields (which were used as the basis for analysis in this study) relate to real-world jobs. To minimize this confusion, the following analysis focuses on categories of degrees and talks about specific majors within each category. But keep in mind that the specific degree titles listed below might not correspond to how degrees will be listed by schools. The O*NET Online database is your best source for detailed descriptions of each of these fields, providing listings which include descriptions of the knowledge, skills, and work activities associated with related careers.

With that said, here are the 50 majors that offer the best potential return on your educational investment. To visit the original '50 most employable degrees 2015,' click here.

© David L Ryan/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

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