Student Loan Debt by Major

Report Highlights. Debt between majors varies greatly, at the Bachelor’s degree level there is a $33,290 difference between the most indebted major and the least indebted major. 

  • The major with the largest median debt for a Bachelor’s degree is Behavioral Science at $42,820.
  • The major with the smallest median debt for a Bachelor’s degree is International and Comparative Education at $9,530.
  • The major with the largest median debt out of any other major is Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine: $287,820.
  • The major with the smallest median debt out of any other major is Biological and Physical Sciences at the Associate’s level: $7,590.

Related reports include Average Medical School Debt | Average Law School Debt | Average Student Loan Debt | Average Student Loan Debt by Year | Student Loan Debt Statistics

Associate’s Degree Debt by Major

The information below reports the median debt per major for Associate’s degrees. Interestingly, several Associate degree majors carry more student debt than Bachelor degree majors.

  • The major with the largest amount of debt for an Associate’s degree is Alternative and Complementary Medicine and Medical Systems at $38,530.
  • The major with the least amount of debt for an Associate’s degree out of any other major is Biological and Physical Sciences at $7,590.
  • A major in Public Health has more debt at the Associate’s level than the Bachelor’s level: $27,140 vs $23,110.
  • Liberal Arts and Sciences majors account for 1.9% of the country’s total student loan debt: the most out of any Associate’s major.
Associate’s Degree Debt Table
College Major 2022 Median Debt
Alternative and Complementary Medicine and Medical Systems $38,530
Public Health $27,140
Music $22,650
Management Information Systems and Services $22,540
Data Processing $22,190
Arts, Entertainment, and Media Management $21,460
Film/Video and Photographic Arts $21,180
Visual and Performing Arts, General $20,400
Criminology $20,710
Accounting $20,050
Human Services, General $19,640
Computer & Information Sciences, General $19,830
Mental and Social Health Services and Allied Professions $18,440
Hospitality Administration/ Management $18,440
Business Administration, Management, and Operations $18,080
Registered Nursing, Nursing Administration, Nursing Research, and Clinical Nursing $17,510
Civil Engineering Technologies/ Technicians $17,360
Marketing $16,630
Sociology $16,430
Computer Science $14,570
Engineering Science $14,160
Health and Physical Education/Fitness $14,030
Information Science/ Studies $14,010
Culinary Arts and Related Services $13,070
Psychology, General $12,220
Design and Applied Arts $12,710
Finance and Financial Management Services $12,710
Animal Sciences $12,710
Clinical, Counseling, and Applied Psychology $11,960
Agriculture, General $11,730
Political Science and Government $11,140
Public Relations, Advertising, and Applied Communication $11,320
Education, General $11,040
Social Sciences, General $10,840
Communication and Media Studies $10,680
Multi-/Interdisciplinary Studies, General $10,600
Liberal Arts and Sciences, General Studies and Humanities $10,490
Biology, General $10,300
Radio, Television, and Digital Communication $10,270
Biology, General $10,300
Natural Sciences $9,880
Physical Sciences $9,820
Science Technologies/Technicians, Other $9,520

Bachelor’s Degree Debt by Major

The information below reports the median debt per major for Bachelor’s degrees. Business Administration as a Bachelor’s degree and as a Master’s degree accounts for a large majority of the country’s total student loan debt at 8%.

  • The major with the largest amount of debt for a Bachelor’s degree is Behavioral Sciences at $42,820
  • The major with the least amount of debt for a Bachelor’s degree is Science Technologies/Technicians at $9,530.
  • A major in Business Operations Support and Assistant Services has less debt at the Bachelor’s level than at the Associate’s level: $19,150 vs $20,060.
  • Business Administration as a major at the Bachelor’s level accounts for 3.7% of the country’s total student loan debt.
Bachelor’s Degree Debt Table
College Major 2022 Median Debt
Behavioral Sciences $42,820
Religious Education $31,980
Culinary Arts and Related Services $28,590
Human Services, General $28,590
Education, General $28,000
Clinical, Counseling, and Applied Psychology $27,440
Literature $26,990
Natural Sciences $26,910
Physical Sciences $26,640
Music $26,600
Architecture $26,470
Arts, Entertainment, and Media Management $26,470
Visual and Performing Arts, General $26,470
Health Professions and Related Clinical Sciences, Other $25,950
Communication, Journalism, and Related Programs, Other $25,930
Drama/ Theatre Arts and Stagecraft $25,790
Astronomy and Astrophysics $25,360
Engineering, General $25,500
Multi-/Interdisciplinary Studies, General $25,440
Aerospace, Aeronautical, and Astronautical Engineering $25,230
Biological and Physical Sciences $25,200
Foods, Nutrition, and Related Services $25,150
Biochemical Engineering $25,080
Information Science/Studies $25,080
Film/Video and Photographic Arts $24,990
Social Work $24,860
Zoology/Animal Biology $24,660
Civil Engineering $24,620
City/Urban, Community, and Regional Planning $24,540
Criminal Justice and Corrections $24,530
Mechanical Engineering $24,500
Radio, Television, and Digital Communication $24,430
Business Administration, Management, and Operations $24,350
Health and Physical Education/ Fitness $24,160
Accounting $24,090
Computer & Information Sciences, General $24,010
Public Relations, Advertising, and Applied Communication $23,890
Chemical Engineering $23,820
Biology $23,750
Journalism $23,430
Criminology $23,400
Liberal Arts and Sciences, General Studies and Humanities $23,330
Psychology, General $23,290
Botany/Plant Biology $23,292
Public Health $23,110
Archeology $23,030
Communication and Media Studies $22,820
Social Sciences, General $22,790
Chemistry $22,760
History $22,763
Physics $22,760
Hospitality Administration/Management $22,760
Registered Nursing, Nursing Administration, Nursing Research, and Clinical Nursing $22,590
English Language and Literature, General $22,500
Sociology $22,290
Computer Science $22,280
Marine Sciences $22,160
Political Science and Government $22,050
Science, Technology, and Society $21,840
Mathematics $21,700
Geography and Cartography $21,700
Anthropology $21,700
Animal Sciences $21,640
Environmental Design $21,220
Agricultural, General $20,790
Economics $20,700
Public Administration $20,650
Philosophy $20,650
Statistics $20,650
International/Global Studies $19,900
Business Operations Support and Assistant Services $19,150
Cognitive Science $18,130
International and Comparative Education $12,970

Master’s Degree Debt by Major

The information below reports the median debt per major for Master’s degrees. The majority of student debt in the nation is accrued by graduate degree students. Business Administration as a Bachelor’s degree and as a Master’s degree accounts for a large majority of the country’s total student loan debt at 8%.

  • The major with the most amount of debt at the Master’s level is Advanced/Graduate Dentistry and Oral Sciences at $158,160.
  • The major with the least amount of debt at the Master’s level is Romance Languages, Literature, and Linguistics at $13,660.
  • Business Administration accounts for 4.3% of the country’s total student loan debt: the most out of any other Master’s degree major.
Master’s Degree Debt Table
College Major 2022 Median Debt
Advanced/Graduate Dentistry and Oral Sciences $158,160
Visual and Performing Arts, General $63,830
Radio, Television, and Digital Communication $55,980
Social Sciences, General $54,550
Philosophy $54,260
Journalism $53,210
Statistics $53,170
Clinical, Counseling, and Applied Psychology $51,890
Registered Nursing, Nursing Administration, Nursing Research, and Clinical Nursing $51,420
Multi/Interdisciplinary Studies, General $48,690
Public Relations, Advertising, and Applied Communication $48,370
Sociology $46,870
Health Professions and Related Clinical Sciences, Other $44,600
English Language and Literature, General $44,300
Political Science and Government $43,850
Liberal Arts and Sciences, General Studies and Humanities $44,400
Finance and Financial Management Services $43,400
Psychology, General $43,400
Business Administration, Management, and Operations $43,250
Economics $43,050
Literature $42,830
Computer Engineering $42,650
Public Administration $42,150
Arts, Entertainment, and Media Management $41,240
History $40,950
Computer & Information Sciences, General $40,580
Anthropology $40,430
Biology, General $40,270
Architecture $39,790
Communication and Media Studies $39,270
International/Global Studies $37,180
Zoology/Animal Biology $37,060
Hospitality Administration/Management $36,200
Marketing $35,740
Criminology $35,320
Computer Science $35,300
Engineering, General $33,240
Health and Physical Education/Fitness $33,370
Agriculture, General $30,680
Geography and Cartography $30,660
Education, General $29,430
Chemistry $28,900
Accounting $28,200
Mechanical Engineering $26,780
Civil Engineering $26,180
International Agriculture $23,280

Doctoral Degree Debt by Major

The information below reports the median debt per major for Doctoral degrees. Doctoral degree debt is highly dependent on the major itself. There is a $280,000 gap between the most expensive Doctoral degree major and the cheapest Doctoral major.

  • The major with the most amount of debt at the Doctoral level is Pharmacy, Pharmaceutical Sciences, and Administration at $310,330.
  • The major with the least amount of debt at the Doctoral level is Area Studies at $29,640.
  • Allied Health Diagnostic, Intervention, and Treatment Professions is cheaper as a Doctoral major is cheaper than a Master’s major: $43,410 vs. $115,250.
  • Juris Doctorate or Doctorates in Law account for 4.3% of the country’s total student loan debt: the most out of any of the professional, graduate majors.
Doctoral Degree Debt Table
College Major 2022 Median Debt
Pharmacy, Pharmaceutical Sciences, and Administration $310,330
Clinical, Counseling, and Applied Psychology $174,620
Public Administration $146,190
Communication and Media Studies $133,940
Juris Doctorate, Doctorate in Law $128,290
Computer & Information Sciences, General $112,780
Psychology, General $112,530
Public Health $103,950
Business Administration, Management, and Operations $85,040
Education, General $82,130
English Language and Literature, General $73,550
Registered Nursing, Nursing Administration, Nursing Research, and Clinical Nursing $69,890
Health and Physical Education/Fitness $46,000

Sources

  1. Brookings Institute Report: Dept. of Education’s College Scorecard shows where student loans pay off… and where they don’t
  2. Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce: The Economic Value of College Majors
  3. U.S. Department of Education: College Scorecard
  4. The Hamilton Project – Major Decisions: Graduates’ Earnings Growth and Debt Repayment
  5. College Student Loan Debt: 2021- Texas Public Policy Foundation