Student Loan Debt by Major

Report Highlights. Debt between majors varies greatly, at the Bachelor’s degree level there is a $34,000 difference between the most indebted major and the least indebted major. 

  • The major with the largest median debt for a Bachelor’s degree is Curriculum and Instruction at $44,125.
  • The major with the smallest median debt for a Bachelor’s degree is International and Comparative Education at $10,000.
  • The major with the largest median debt out of any other major is Pharmacy, Pharmaceutical Sciences, and Administration at the Doctoral level: $271,378.
  • The major with the smallest median debt out of any other major is Mechatronics, Robotics, and Automation Engineering at the Associate’s level: $6,500.

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

Top 5 Majors on Education Data Initiative

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 $35,750.
  • The major with the least amount of debt for an Associate’s degree and out of any other major is Mechatronics, Robotics, and Automation Engineering at $6,500.
  • A major in Public Health has more debt at the Associate’s level than the Bachelor’s level: $26,464 vs $22,678.
  • Liberal Arts and Sciences majors account for 1.9% of the country’s total student loan debt: the most out of any Associates’ major.
Associate’s Degree Debt Table
College Major 2021 Median Debt
Alternative and Complementary Medicine and Medical Systems $35,750
Legal Professions and Studies, Other $30,500
Public Health $26,464
Music $21,353
Management Information Systems and Services $21,288
Arts, Entertainment, and Media Management $20,151
Film/Video and Photographic Arts $19,702
Criminology $19,409
Data Processing $19,133
Computer & Information Sciences, General $19,032
Accounting $18,928
Human Services, General $18,810
Culinary Arts and Related Services $18,171
Mental and Social Health Services and Allied Professions $17,643
Business Administration, Management and Operations $17,569
Marketing $17,499
Registered Nursing, Nursing Administration, Nursing Research, and Clinical Nursing $16,559
Health and Physical Education/Fitness $15,567
Computer Science $15,337
Civil Engineering Technologies/ Technicians $15,250
Hospitality Administration/ Management $14,637
Psychology, General $14,060
Design and Applied Arts $14,013
Clinical, Counseling, and Applied Psychology $13,418
Finance and Financial Management Services $13,125
Information Science/ Studies $12,382
Radio, Television, and Digital Communication $12,172
Library and Archives Assisting $12,049
Animal Sciences $12,000
Public Relations, Advertising, and Applied Communication $11,540
Visual and Performing Arts, General $11,373
Communication and Media Studies $10,929
Social Sciences, General $10,906
Education, General $10,806
Engineering Science $10,500
Physical Sciences $10,422
Multi-/Interdisciplinary Studies, General $10,300
Political Science and Government $10,284
Liberal Arts and Sciences, General Studies and Humanities $10,000
Agriculture, General $9,765
Biology, General $9,599
Natural Sciences $9,467
Biotechnology $9,437
Sociology $8,944
Science Technologies/Technicians, Other $8,909
Public Administration and Social Service Professions, Other $8,900
Mechatronics, Robotics, and Automation Engineering $6,500

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 Curriculum and Instruction at $44,125.
  • The major with the least amount of debt for a Bachelor’s degree is International and Comparative Education at $10,000.
  • A major in Business Operations Support and Assistant Services, has less debt at the Bachelor’s level than at the Associate’s level: $16,200 vs $17,201.
  • 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 2021 Median Debt
Curriculum and Instruction $44,125
Behavioral Sciences $39,890
Culinary Arts and Related Services $37,178
Religious Education $31,582
Physical Sciences $27,365
Education, General $27,000
Natural Sciences $27,000
Human Services, General $26,986
Architecture $26,086
Biological and Physical Sciences $25,717
Music $25,206
Arts, Entertainment, and Media Management $25,000
Clinical, Counseling and Applied Psychology $25,000
Drama/ Theatre Arts and Stagecraft $25,000
Film/Video and Photographic Arts $25,000
Health Professions and Related Clinical Sciences, Other $25,000
Engineering, General $24,999
Visual and Performing Arts, General $24,859
Biochemical Engineering $24,709
Information Science/Studies $24,500
Social Work $24,356
Communication, Journalism, and Related Programs, Other $24,233
Civil Engineering $24,035
Multi-/Interdisciplinary Studies, General $23,933
Literature $23,883
Aerospace, Aeronautical, and Astronautical Engineering $23,875
Foods, Nutrition, and Related Services $23,821
Criminal Justice and Corrections $23,632
Business Administration, Management and Operations $23,250
Health and Physical Education/ Fitness $23,250
Public Relations, Advertising, and Applied Communication $23,250
Radio, Television, and Digital Communication $23,250
Zoology/Animal Biology $23,250
Journalism $23,132
Chemical Engineering $23,106
Chemistry $23,096
Accounting $23,000
Mechanical Engineering $23,000
Computer & Information Sciences, General $22,941
Biology $22,891
Liberal Arts and Sciences, General Studies and Humanities $22,752
Psychology, General $22,750
Public Health $22,678
Communication and Media Studies $22,500
Marine Sciences $22,414
History $22,215
Social Sciences, General $21,989
Physics $21,816
Registered Nursing, Nursing Administration, Nursing Research, and Clinical Nursing $21,679
Criminology $21,500
English Language and Literature, General $21,500
Hospitality Administration/Management $21,500
Mathematics $21,500
Political Science and Government $21,500
Sociology $21,500
Geography and Cartography $21,432
Anthropology $21,271
Science, Technology and Society $21,210
Botany/Plant Biology $21,198
Computer Science $21,000
Public Administration $20,901
Environmental Design $20,784
Archeology $20,723
Agricultural, General $20,500
Animal Sciences $20,499
Philosophy $20,447
City/Urban, Community and Regional Planning $19,925
Economics $19,849
International/Global Studies $18,982
Astronomy and Astrophysics $18,723
Cultural Studies/ Critical Theory and Analysis $18,500
Statistics $17,558
Cognitive Science $17,052
Business Operations Support and Assistant Services $16,200
International and Comparative Education $10,000

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 with 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 $138,857.
  • The major with the least amount of debt at the Master’s level is International Agriculture at $15,317.
  • 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 2021 Median Debt
Advanced/Graduate Dentistry and Oral Sciences $138,857
Visual and Performing Arts, General $61,188
Social Sciences, General $60,070
Philosophy $56,582
Literature $52,181
Clinical, Counseling and Applied Psychology $51,489
Statistics $51,360
Radio, Television, and Digital Communication $49,889
Journalism $49,311
Registered Nursing, Nursing Administration, Nursing Research and Clinical Nursing $45,006
Public Relations, Advertising, and Applied Communication $41,640
Economics $41,551
Liberal Arts and Sciences, General Studies and Humanities $41,323
Architecture $41,000
Finance and Financial Management Services $41,000
Political Science and Government $41,000
Psychology, General $41,000
Business Administration, Management and Operations $40,855
Public Administration $40,621
English Language and Literature, General $40,603
Computer & Information Sciences, General $40,533
Arts, Entertainment, and Media Management $40,326
Multi/Interdisciplinary Studies, General $40,252
History $39,753
Computer Engineering $38,967
Communication and Media Studies $38,882
Computer Science $37,477
Sociology $36,185
Anthropology $35,935
Marketing $35,762
Biology, General $35,199
Health Professions and Related Clinical Sciences, Other $34,742
Hospitality Administration/Management $34,676
Criminology $34,008
International/Global Studies $33,632
Chemistry $31,446
Engineering, General $30,663
Health and Physical Education/Fitness $30,217
Education, General $28,351
Accounting $28,341
Civil Engineering $27,931
Zoology/Animal Biology $26,934
Geography and Cartography $24,969
Mechanical Engineering $23,302
Agriculture, General $21,360
International Agriculture $15,317

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 $250,000 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 $271,378.
  • The major with the least amount of debt at the Doctoral level is Anthropology at $21,219.
  • Anthropology as a Doctoral major is cheaper than a Master’s major: $21,219 vs $35,935.
  • 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 2021 Median Debt
Pharmacy, Pharmaceutical Sciences, and Administration $271,378
Liberal Arts and Sciences, General Studies and Humanities $199,115
Public Administration $137,560
Juris Doctorate, Doctorate in Law $120,034
Information Science/ Studies $118,106
Clinical, Counseling and Applied Psychology $114,372
Computer & Information Sciences, General $101,573
Communication and Media Studies $101,392
Public Health $79,842
Education, General $78,283
Computer Science $77,269
Business Administration, Management and Operations $77,239
Psychology, General $73,830
Registered Nursing, Nursing Administration, Nursing Research, and Clinical Nursing $68,120
English Language and Literature, General $62,757
Health and Physical Education/Fitness $51,816
Anthropology $21,219

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