17 Most Useless Degrees & Why They Made The List

You’re entering college and trying to figure out the focus of your studies. What do you major in? What kind of college degree to pursue? You want to avoid the most useless degrees offered because you can end up overinvesting in your education for low-paying career choices, having a tough time finding a job because of limited options, or both!

Putting in the work and making an informed decision is very important when choosing a career path. That’s why we’ve compiled this list of 17 useless degrees that aren’t worth the potential debt accrued.

Read on to see what each degree is about and why we consider it useless.

Let’s go!

Here Are The 17 Most Useless Degrees

From culinary arts to tourism and other majors, you may find yourself wishing you picked another degree (like this list of easy degrees that pay well) if you accidentally choose one of these.

1. Culinary arts

Culinary arts is a degree for people who want to learn how to cook and prepare food. A lot of what you learn in a culinary arts degree can be self-taught. These are skills you can naturally acquire in your own kitchen, such as:

  • Learning how to chop vegetables in various fashions or
  • Learning different ways how to prepare an egg

Culinary arts college degrees can look great on your resume, but generally, it’s not a worthwhile investment if you want to become a chef or do other food-related jobs.

Trade schools offer a similar education for a fraction of the cost.

2. Fashion design

Fashion blogging ideas.

A fashion design bachelor’s degree is an educational path for someone who wants to work in fashion, like running their own fashion brand or working within the fashion industry.

Why is fashion design considered a useless university degree?

Well, landing a job in fashion design straight out of college is pretty difficult. Many workers in the fashion industry start as an intern before working their way up to an entry-level fashion job and climbing the career ladder from there.

Students who pursue a fashion design degree may be disappointed with the job prospects that exist after graduating.

3. Advertising

evergreen marketing.

Advertising just isn’t what it used to be.

It’s about promoting products and creating awareness, which can influence consumer behavior and drive sales.

Frankly, you can learn a lot of what you would from an advertising degree over the internet and in many places, for free. The advertising space has changed a lot over the years.

A smarter move would be to study social media and digital marketing, which can teach you modern advertising practices like SEO and SEM.

And the best part is that you don’t need a university degree to get going.

You can take an inexpensive course online, such as the Authority Site System (TASS) by Authority Hacker, and learn everything you need to start making money online.

4. Liberal arts

I used to think of liberal arts as a degree to pursue when you didn’t know what career to pursue in life.

For students who never find their passion, they’re stuck with a liberal arts degree, which can be problematic when entering the workforce because:

5. Music

Woman working with student to teach the cello.

Music is a passion many people have, but pursuing a degree in music may not be the smartest decision you can make for yourself.

That’s because music degrees don’t usually support a music career. The cost of getting the degree may not make sense for the kinds of jobs you land after you graduate.

An alternative path would be pursuing a more lucrative degree and pursuing your music interests on the side. Music could lead to a fruitful, high-paying career for yourself in the future, but a degree usually isn’t needed to get there.

6. Performing arts

actor

Performing arts or theater arts is a bachelor’s degree in acting. You want to be an actor as your career, but getting a degree in performing arts is not needed to make that dream come true.

While most actors do hold a bachelor’s degree, you’ll find that it’s not a requirement to land a paid acting role. Not to mention, some of the world’s top actors and entertainers like Brad Pitt, Cameron Diaz, and others don’t have a degree!

Instead of pursuing useless college degrees, invest in formal training like acting classes, production, and related training.

7. Anthropology

anthropology

Anthropology is the study of human culture and societies. Anthropologists study how people live and how they’ve lived in the past, including practices, beliefs, and social structures.

What’s wrong with pursuing an anthropology degree?

First, it requires a lot of schooling. Expect to go beyond a bachelor’s degree and obtain a graduate degree like a master’s degree or even a Ph.D. So, you’ll spend a lot of time in the classroom getting your credentials, and when it’s time to enter the workforce, you’ll be sorely disappointed.

Anthropology jobs are not abundant.

Spending a lot of time going to school to be met with difficulty entering the workforce is why anthropology degrees made this list of the most useless college degrees.

8. Philosophy

philosophy

Philosophy examines nature, morality, and the human condition with a heavy focus on thinking.

Today, it seems that society is turning away from the study of thinking and focusing more on science-backed learning.

While you can use your philosophy degree to teach philosophy in a college or university, it stops there regarding job prospects.

For philosophy majors, it can be pretty limiting in the workforce.

You can continue your studies in other areas like law, writing, or other fields to open up more job prospects. However, that’s additional time, effort, and money on top of your investment in a philosophy degree.

So, considering a different field from the start might be the best bet.

9. Archaeology

archaeology

Archaeology studies human history and prehistory, including how past civilizations lived and interacted.

The reason why archaeology is a useless degree revolves around the difficulty in finding archaeology jobs after graduation.

Jobs in this field are not abundant. The time and money investment in going to school for an archeology degree might feel like a wasted effort if it takes up to a year or longer to find a good job in this field or settle for another role outside this job market.

10. Tourism

The travel and tourism industry might sound like a fun industry to be in. Getting away and exploring new places can be very rewarding, but unfortunately, tourism jobs don’t usually pay well.

Many of them don’t require a tourism degree, either.

So, if you’re interested in working in travel and tourism, it might be worth considering skipping getting a degree altogether. Or doing it on the side as a social media influencer so you can pursue this passion alongside your full-time career.

11. International studies

international studies

International studies teach you about global social, economic, political, and cultural elements worldwide.

While you can learn a lot in this degree and better understand issues around the world, jobs in this field don’t pay incredibly well, which is why we consider it a useless degree.

International studies majors tend to go on and work in government or academic roles, which can be fulfilling and meaningful careers but aren’t always lucrative.

12. Film Studies

film studies

Film studies teach you the history, art, and cultural aspects of film including film production.

Why is film studies a useless degree?

While industries like video editing are growing, the truth is you don’t need a degree to land a role in this industry. You can learn about film production and editing from many places, including free resources like YouTube or cheap alternatives to college like Skillshare and other places online like Udemy.

So, an investment in film studies isn’t required for many film-related jobs that are hiring today.

13. Criminal justice

criminal justice

Criminal justice can lead to a job in law enforcement. If you want options outside of becoming a police officer, criminal justice may be considered a useless degree. The cost of obtaining this degree does not offset the job prospects that exist after you graduate.

For the same cost as a criminal justice degree, you can go for a broader field like political science, leading to more lucrative careers and additional opportunities like law school.

14. Child and family studies

Childcare business

Pursuing a child and family studies degree will leave you with limited job options like social work or counseling. This is a useful degree if you’re happy to pursue one of the above careers.

This is a worthless degree if you want more career options or a job that doesn’t require a degree.

If you want to work in this field, a better option may be to go with a psychology degree, which can equip you with the skills to go for more well-paying careers.

15. Ethnic studies

Ethnic studies can draw from history, sociology, literature, and other fields. It can be a personally fulfilling and rewarding major for people who want to work in a job market that battles social injustice, oppression, and inequality.

But, outside of becoming a professor of ethnic studies, finding jobs related to this degree can be challenging.

16. Language

Studying a language can be an interesting educational path, but a language degree isn’t necessarily needed to land a linguistics career.

And the reason this is among the most useless degrees is because short of teaching language as a college professor, many linguistics jobs like freelance language experts, translators, and related positions don’t require a degree.

It may make better sense to use the time you would’ve invested in college to gain experience in this field.

17. Sociology

Sociology is a college major that studies social behavior and interaction. It’s considered a useless degree because of its poor return on investment. The cost of obtaining a four-year degree in this field would produce a sociology job paying around $50,000/year.

What is the most useless degree?

According to this survey, the most useless degrees that students regretted the most were journalism, sociology, and liberal arts.

The survey revealed:

“Job seekers’ feelings about their college majors are strongly tied to their job prospects later.”

Zip Recruiter

That’s because as a recent grad, students were dissatisfied with job prospects, wishing they had gone for a more quantitative field like a business degree, finance, or healthcare.

What degrees should you avoid?

Choosing a degree is an important decision. You want to balance your interests with a field of study that can produce a viable, long-lasting, and well-paying career.

You should avoid degrees in industries that are shrinking, don’t pay well, and don’t require a degree to work in the field.

For example, nuclear engineering is experiencing an 11% decline in jobs by 2031. The industry is shrinking, indicating that jobs will be going away alongside this decline.

What are degrees worthwhile to pursue? The most regret-free college majors include:

  • Computer science degree,
  • Engineering,
  • And nursing degrees…

Just to name a few.

The Bottom line – The Most Useless Degrees

Is college useless? No, not at all, but the most useless degrees do exist. Some degrees produce careers that aren’t well-paying, and every career requires a college degree. Alternatives to university degrees and college include career training programs, online courses like TASS, apprenticeships, and other options.

Taking the time to research your prospective degree programs is an important step for your future career. Take your time with the process so you understand what career path can come from your degree.

Tran Danh

Tran Danh

I'm Tran Danh, the author behind Smart Passive Income (SPI), a blog dedicated to online business and entrepreneurship. I started this blog in 2008, following in the footsteps of Pat Flynn, the founder. Being one of the leading business blogs globally, SPI attracts over 2 million readers each month. Through my content, I aim to assist individuals in generating passive income from various online sources. Join me on this transformative journey as we delve into the world of online business and uncover the strategies and tactics that have led to tremendous success for myself and countless others.

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