Open Access Journal Article

College Selectivity, Choice of Major, and Post-College Earnings

by William Brian Muse a,*  and  Iryna Muse b orcid
Mathematics department, Columbus State University, Columbus, USA
Assistant Vice Chancellor, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
JEA  2024, 55; 3(2), 55;
Received: 22 June 2023 / Accepted: 20 July 2023 / Published Online: 15 June 2024


College choice and choice of major are the most important decisions for future earnings. It is still unclear, however, what makes a greater difference—college or major—or whether a choice of college matters more for some majors, but not the others. Using cross-classified models and College Scorecard data, I show that a discipline is more consequential for future earnings than a college. The effect of STEM is substantial but is less pronounced at institutions with higher overall median earnings. The effect of college selectivity on earnings is more pronounced for non-STEM disciplines. Institutional characteristics—such as tuition, shares of graduates receiving different forms of financial aid, institutional size and location, and type of college—correlate with earnings of graduates. Racial and gender composition of an educational program correlate with expected earnings of its graduates even after control for other institutional and disciplinary characteristics. Models presented here provide a better understanding of the effect of college and major choices on future earnings.

Copyright: © 2024 by Muse and Muse. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY) (Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

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ACS Style
Muse, W. B.; Muse, I. College Selectivity, Choice of Major, and Post-College Earnings. Journal of Economic Analysis, 2024, 3, 55.
AMA Style
Muse W B, Muse I. College Selectivity, Choice of Major, and Post-College Earnings. Journal of Economic Analysis; 2024, 3(2):55.
Chicago/Turabian Style
Muse, William B.; Muse, Iryna 2024. "College Selectivity, Choice of Major, and Post-College Earnings" Journal of Economic Analysis 3, no.2:55.
APA style
Muse, W. B., & Muse, I. (2024). College Selectivity, Choice of Major, and Post-College Earnings. Journal of Economic Analysis, 3(2), 55.

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