What are the Most Useless College Degrees?

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September 4, 2020
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min read

For most people, a college degree is the ultimate goal of their education. Completing a degree helps to open doors in the employment world and set you off on your career path. As true as that may be, not all degrees are equally valuable. There are some that are, for lack of a better word, useless...

A lot of time and money is invested in your chosen degree and no one wants to be left shortchanged. Here's a rundown of some types of college degrees that could end up being useless.

Artistic Degrees

When it comes to their practicality, many people give artistic degrees a lot of flack, but there is some substance to the criticism. A career in the arts like fashion design is notoriously unreliable and unstable.

It's very difficult to forge a career as a recording artist, a fashion design professional, or even as a fine arts expert. A college degree in a relevant area may help but it's far from a guarantee. Many successful people, particularly in the performing arts industry, forwent any form of higher education in their field. For that very reason, tread carefully before committing to a degree in photography, film, fine arts, or fashion design in particular.

Unnecessary Degrees

Some aforementioned artistic degrees may fall into the 'unnecessary degree' category. Unnecessary degrees are the one that make basically no difference once you have work experience. There are certain degrees that are just not required for the line of work you intend to go into and are likely to be more hassle than they are worth.

An example of a degree that can be bypassed in many cases is a Culinary Arts degree. Of course, there are employers who value a college degree in Culinary Arts, but for the vast majority, work experience and demonstrable skills take precedence. Computer science is another one of the most useless degrees if you already have experience in the job market.

These are just a couple of instances where a college degree is far from necessary. Make sure to carefully research your intended career before committing to a potentially useless degree.

Degrees that Require Further Study

From the most useless degrees to degrees that are conditionally useful, degrees that require further study can absolutely be the right choice if you are dead set on a particular career path. More often than not, that career path will only be accessible via this degree. The trouble is, the degree is often not all you need.

If for whatever reason you don't continue your education in the form of a Master's degree or some other form of education beyond the degree, some of these useless degrees.

An example of a degree that requires further study is Psychology. In order to transition into a career in a relevant area, a Psychology degree is unlikely to suffice, which makes it one of the most useless degrees on its own. A doctorate-level certificate is the minimum you will need to get within reach of an actual patient.

According to Bureau of Labor statistics, those with a doctorate make nearly double what that with a Master's degree make. So further your education may really pay off.

A couple more examples are political science and criminal justice. Four years in college simply isn't enough for these fields.

New Degrees with Little Credibility

Degrees that require more study are also often in well-respected fields like Medicine and Psychology. You may be tempted to opt for a degree that can send you off on your job hunt as soon as it's done, but beware of novel degrees.

Some new degrees may sound relevant to a developing field or might appear to be an exciting alternative to more traditional degrees but they come with a very important caveat - new degrees may lack credibility.

Studying for a degree is ultimately meant to improve your job prospects but if those same employers don't value your degree, it basically becomes useless.

Niche Degrees

This one is rather self-explanatory, If you choose to study a niche area, your options are going to be severely limited when it comes to the job market.

Useless degrees (unless you're going along a very specific path) include Art History, Archeology, and Anthropology.

Of course, it's always good to have a career in mind when choosing which degree to study but picking a niche area will force you down a path that could end up being useless.

Difficult Degrees

Our last category features some of the most useful degrees there are. The issue with a difficult degree is that they are, well, difficult. Achieving a degree in Law or Medicine is a phenomenal achievement that could potentially land you a high-paying career but that is useless if you can't/don't finish the degree.

Computer Science, Engineering, Medicine, and Law have some of the highest drop out rates of any degree, and with good reason. No degree is easy but these are renowned for being especially time-consuming, academically-challenging, and stressful.

You may receive partial credit from dropping out but that is useless when many of these degrees require further study to advance in many of their related professions.

The Bottom Line

When it comes to choosing a college degree, the single most important thing you can do is research. Make a list of college degrees that people value. Don't go into the decision blindly or you may find yourself with a useless degree.

The more information you have at your disposal, the more informed your decision can be. A college education is not the only option and it certainly is not always the best option.

There are exceptions to all these categories so if you have come to the conclusion that a degree is right for you, that's great. As long as it is considered carefully and you are entirely aware of the possible downfalls, there should be nothing stopping you from pursuing that goal.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I assess the value of a college degree before enrolling in a program?

To assess the value of a college degree, research the employment rate and average salary of graduates in your field of interest. Look for statistics from reputable sources such as the Bureau of Labor Statistics or industry-specific reports. Additionally, consider the curriculum's relevance to current market demands, the program's accreditation, and the networking opportunities it provides.

What should I do if I've already earned a degree that's considered 'useless'?

If you have a degree that's considered 'useless,' focus on transferable skills that can be applied to various job sectors, such as critical thinking, communication, and problem-solving. Consider additional certifications, internships, or volunteer work to gain practical experience in a field you're interested in. Networking and leveraging alumni connections can also open doors to new opportunities.

Are there any benefits to pursuing a degree in a field that's labeled as 'useless'?

Pursuing a degree in a field labeled as 'useless' can still offer benefits, such as personal fulfillment, a broadened perspective, and the development of critical thinking and analytical skills. These programs often encourage creativity and can be a foundation for entrepreneurial ventures. Moreover, interdisciplinary applications of such degrees can lead to unique career paths not immediately obvious.

Dave Fano

Founder and CEO of Teal, Dave is a serial entrepreneur with 20+ years of experience building products & services to help people leverage technology and achieve more with less.

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