12 Most Useless Master’s Degrees if You Want a Good Job

Getting a master’s degree could help you land a high-paying job — but some simply won’t.
Updated April 18, 2024
Fact checked
female graduate with diploma in hand

We receive compensation from the products and services mentioned in this story, but the opinions are the author's own. Compensation may impact where offers appear. We have not included all available products or offers. Learn more about how we make money and our editorial policies.

Earning a master’s degree is something many people aspire to accomplish. Doing so could net you the skills and credentials you need to pursue a better, more lucrative job and lower your financial stress.  

According to the Census Bureau, from 2011 to 2021, the number of people 25 and over with a master’s degree rose to 24.1 million. That’s a 50.2% jump. More than 14% of Americans 25 and older have completed an advanced degree.

However, when you factor in the cost of getting a master’s degree, and the debt you can incur, more than a few of them are no good for finding high-paying employment. Here are 12.

Earn money online by taking surveys

$55,000 might sound crazy … but with a company called Survey Junkie, it’s possible to get your share of it every day by taking their surveys in your extra time.

Follow these simple steps to start earning:

  1. Sign up for an account with Survey Junkie here.
  2. Take surveys.
  3. Repeat daily and get paid for sharing your opinion!

P.S.: You can cash out with as little as $5 through PayPal or bank transfer, or transfer to gift cards from a number of stores.

Get your share of $55,000 daily by signing up here


Farknot Architect/Adobe architect working and discussing about an architecture model

Median annual pay: $82,840
Projected job growth: 5%

Architects are responsible for designing and planning homes, offices, and just about any other kind of structure one can think of. Wherever people eat, live, play or work, an architect had a hand in it.

The job entails figuring out the needs of the client, preparing specifications and drawings, managing contracts, and being at the worksite to ensure construction follows the plan.

Unfortunately, architectural job growth is lower than average and early career pay is low. It could be frustrating early on as you're trying to move beyond living paycheck to paycheck.

Elementary education

pololia/Adobe little student girl studying at school

Median annual pay: $61,620
Projected job growth: 1%

The world is always in need of good teachers. Unfortunately, the pay for kindergarten and elementary school teachers leaves much to be desired, especially when the time and energy commitments are factored in.

While a bachelor’s degree in elementary education is the typical entry-level requirement for most public and private schools, some states want teachers to earn a master’s degree after they’re certified and employed.

Fine arts

kustvideo/Adobe professional artist paints with oil

Median annual pay: $59,990
Projected job growth: 7%

People with a master’s in fine arts are creators. Anything from blown glass and paintings to sculptures can be sold or exhibited.

It isn’t strictly necessary to earn a degree to be a craft artist, but higher education gives artists a chance to develop their skills and their portfolio. Still, it remains a niche occupation.

Resolve $10,000 or more of your debt

Credit card debt is suffocating. It constantly weighs on your mind and controls every choice you make. You can end up emotionally and even physically drained from it. And even though you make regular payments, it feels like you can never make any progress because of the interest.

National Debt Relief could help you resolve your credit card debt with an affordable plan that works for you. Just tell them your situation, then find out your debt relief options.1

How to get National Debt Relief to help you resolve your debt: Sign up for a free debt assessment here. (Do not skip this step!) By signing up for a free assessment, National Debt Relief can assist you in settling your debt, but only if you schedule the assessment.

Try it


BullRun/Adobe student standing near bookshelves checking literature

Median annual pay: $64,540
Projected job growth: 3%

The ultimate goal of a historian is to preserve and study. They’re also often called upon to help with research from governments, businesses, individuals, and other organizations.

The job market for historians can be slim, however. In 2021, there were only about 3,300 jobs. That number isn’t expected to move much in the next 10 years.

Interior design

ronstik/Adobe designer working in office doing furniture and flooring material selection

Median annual pay: $61,590
Projected job growth: 4%

If you need your indoor space to be functional and pretty, you’ll hire an interior designer.

Like architects, interior designers need to meet client needs, building codes, and inspection regulations. They also need an artistic eye to select the right decor as well as draw and edit blueprints.

Unfortunately, the projected job growth for interior designers over the next 10 years has effectively stalled.


New Africa/Adobe equipment for journalist on grey table

Median annual pay: $55,960
Projected job growth: -3%

The core purpose of journalists and reporters is to keep the public informed about what’s happening locally, nationally, and globally.

It’s so critical to America that a free press is part of the Constitution. The downsides are that the pay is bad and the projected job growth is grim.

Library science

diignat/Adobe woman with a stack of books in library

Median annual pay: $61,660
Projected job growth: 3%

Who doesn’t love librarians? The specifics of a librarian’s job can vary depending on where they’re working, but as one might surmise, they typically help people find information and conduct research.

Sometimes, they’re in charge of every aspect of the library. Depending on the size of the operation, they may focus on just one aspect, like the technical or administrative side of things.

Marriage and family therapy

Daniel Laflor/peopleimages.com/Adobe couple fighting and arguing in therapy session with therapist

Median annual pay: $56,570
Projected job growth: 15%

Marriage and family therapists do exactly what the job title suggests. They work to help couples and families handle their relationships. That includes discussing emotions and experiences and guiding their clients through difficult times.

Their aim is also to help clients enrich their lives with behavioral therapy and goals that can halt harmful feelings with positive ones.

Museum studies

EdNurg/Adobe woman in the museum uses the touchscreen monitor

Median annual pay: $53,420
Projected job growth: 10%

Archivists appraise, authenticate, catalog, and preserve historic pieces while curators and conservators oversee museum collections.

That means they’re the ones who acquire, store and exhibit items, as well as design those exhibits and tours. Cleaning and restoring ancient objects is in the cards too, as is directing and supervising museum staff.

Earn cash back on everyday purchases with this rare account

Want to earn cash back on your everyday purchases without using a credit card? With the Discover®️ Cashback Debit Checking account (member FDIC), you can earn 1% cash back on up to $3,000 in debit card purchases each month!2

With no credit check to apply and no monthly fees to worry about, you can earn nearly passive income on purchases you’re making anyway — up to an extra $360 a year!

This rare checking account has other great perks too, like access to your paycheck up to 2 days early with Early Pay, no minimum deposit or monthly balance requirements, over 60K fee-free ATMs, and the ability to add cash to your account at Walmart stores nationwide.

Don’t leave money on the table — it only takes minutes to apply and it won’t impact your credit score.

Apply for a Discover Cashback Checking account today


Michael Nivelet/Adobe photograph of a person who studies musical score

Median annual pay: $62,940
Projected job growth: 1%

A master’s degree in music theory, music composition, or conducting puts you on track for a handful of jobs, including conductor, composer, or music director. You’ll need plenty of related work experience too.

As with other creative master’s degrees, the field is slim. There were 55,800 jobs in 2021 and that’s only expected to change by about 2,700 over the next decade.

6 Legit Ways To Help You Pay Your Rent (2 Ways You Haven't Heard of Before)

Rehabilitation counseling

Studio Romantic/Adobe mature people comforting an upset depressed man

Median annual pay: $39,90
Projected job growth: 2%

Rehabilitation counselors help those with disabilities — be they developmental, emotional, mental, or physical — become independent.

A rehabilitation counselor’s clients often need help overcoming the impact of disabilities on employment and being on their own at various stages of their lives.

Some assist students, veterans, and older Americans. An important job for sure, but don’t do it for the money.

Social work

Seventyfour/Adobe female social worker talking to difficult teenage girl

Median annual pay: $55,350
Projected job growth: 7%

Social workers help people, groups, and communities deal with the problems they face every day. Issues run the gamut from divorce and illness to crises like child abuse.

Clinical social workers are licensed to diagnose and treat mental, behavioral, and emotional disorders. Social workers are an essential part of the American landscape.

Unfortunately, the job doesn’t pay well and can be stressful. Having a stressful job while having to make extra money on the side can be a frustrating combination.

Bottom line

mnirat/Adobe graduates throwing graduation hats up in the sky

It’s logical to assume that a master’s degree provides a certain guarantee that you’ll find better, higher-paying work than someone who holds a bachelor’s degree.

But not all master’s degrees are created equal. The more niche the focus of the degree, the harder it is to land the right job that pays well so you can stop living paycheck to paycheck.

SurveyJunkie Benefits

  • Over $55,000 paid to members daily
  • Earn up to $130 a month taking 4 or more surveys daily
  • $76 million paid out to date
  • 20M+ lifetime members and BBB accreditation

Author Details

Will Vitka Will Vitka is a D.C. area reporter and writer. He previously worked for WTOP, The New York Post, Stuff Magazine, and CBS News.

Want to learn how to make an extra $200?

Get proven ways to earn extra cash from your phone, computer, & more with Extra.

You will receive emails from FinanceBuzz.com. Unsubscribe at any time. Privacy Policy

  • Vetted side hustles
  • Exclusive offers to save money daily
  • Expert tips to help manage and escape debt