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The most popular university major in the US leads to the least fulfilling work

Students throw their mortarboards after their graduation ceremony at the Hamburg School of Business Administration (HSBA) in Hamburg, October 1, 2014. REUTERS/Fabian Bimmer (GERMANY - Tags: BUSINESS EDUCATION SOCIETY) - RTR48JNX
Reuters/Fabian Bimmer
They’re happy now, at least.
By Max Nisen
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

College students flock to business, by far the most popular undergraduate major in the US, and after graduating, the MBA is the most popular advanced degree. It’s not hard to see why: Business training helps students finding jobs right out of school and higher salaries.

But a lot of those business majors also seem to be pretty miserable in those jobs, according to a new poll from Gallup and Purdue. When Gallup asked whether business majors were “interested” in their careers, far fewer than half said they were:

They also come in last—and under 50%—in Gallup’s measure of “purpose well-being,” defined as “people liking what they do each day and being motivated to achieve their goals.” Relatively recent graduates are even worse off:

Even those with postgraduate business degrees (which usually means an MBA) report substantially less career interest and “purpose well-being” than their peers who chose a different field. The poll is a reminder that while a job might be easier to find with a business degree, that job might be one where you’re trudging through the day just for a paycheck.

And business majors actually weren’t even the ones that reported feeling most financially secure: More science and engineering majors reported that they were thriving financially. But there is some good news for business majors: While computer scientists may make the most money right out of school, business is a more lucrative path in the long run if you excell. The top 5% of business majors (including graduate degrees) in terms of salary make $4.23 million over a lifetime, compared to $3.93 million for computer science majors, according to data collected by The Hamilton Project.

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