Value of a Law Degree by College Major
23 Pages Posted: 7 Mar 2016 Last revised: 9 Mar 2017
Date Written: March 5, 2016
We estimate the increase in earnings from a law degree relative to a bachelor’s degree for graduates who majored in different fields in college. Students with humanities and social sciences majors comprise approximately 47 percent of law degree holders compared to 23 percent of terminal bachelor’s. Law degree earnings premiums are highest for humanities and social sciences majors and lowest for STEM majors. On the other hand, among those with law degrees, overall earnings are highest for STEM and Business Majors. This effect is fairly small at the low end of the earnings distribution, but quite large at the top end. The median annual law degree earnings premium ranges from approximately $29,000 for STEM majors to $45,000 for humanities majors.
Keywords: labor economics, earnings premium, law school, lawyers, legal profession, college major, field of study, education, economic value of a law degree, SIPP, ACS, Census, American Community Survey, Survey of Income and Program Participation
JEL Classification: I21, I22, J17, J2, J21, J22, J23, J24, J31, J44, J62, J63, L84, C12, C13, C14, C15, C32, C33, C53
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