Grantee Research

Value of a Law Degree by College Major

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



undergraduate major, value of a law degree, earnings premium


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.


Related research:

Frank McIntyre & Michael Simkovic, Timing Law School (2016),

Frank McIntyre & Michael Simkovic, Are Law Degrees as Valuable to Minorities? (2017),