July 8, 2014 at 2:48 PM ET
Those math and science degrees pay off after college — humanities, not so much. A survey of the class of 2008, released Tuesday by the National Center for Education Statistics, provides an interesting snapshot of the nation's educated elite following a crushing economic recession. College grads from private four-year schools earned about the same as those from public four-year schools, about $50,000 a year. But while a paltry 16 percent of students took home degrees in science, technology, engineering or math — so-called STEM disciplines — those who did were paid significantly better. They averaged $65,000 a year compared with $49,500 for graduates with other degrees. The findings are based on a survey of 17,110 students in 2012, about four years after they received bachelor's degrees. The survey found a strong correlation between earning money and highly specialized degrees. More than 95 percent of grads who studied computer and information sciences were employed full time during the survey and earned $72,600 on average. Engineering students reported similar job and salary prospects. Meanwhile, a humanities graduate was more likely to report working multiple jobs and earning a full-time salary averaging $43,100.
-The Associated Press and NBC News staff