The Most Expensive Textbooks by Major

Priceonomics analyzed textbook data using University of Virginia’s fall 2015 textbook list. The data analyzed included the cost of 5,000 textbooks for approximately 750 courses.

The findings showed the following top five disciplines as having the highest average textbook cost per class. Click here for the complete list of the top 31 disciplines with the highest average textbook costs.

  1. Economics
  2. Languages
  3. Chemistry
  4. Physics
  5. Psychology

The top five most expensive textbooks are in the following disciplines. Click here for the complete list.

  1. Chemistry
  2. Physics
  3. Languages
  4. Mathematics
  5. Languages

Overall STEM related disciplines on average have the most expensive textbooks. According to Textbook Equity LLC which analyzed the most popular 400 textbooks sold on Amazon from spring 2010 to spring 2012, on average these textbooks rose by 4.4% during this time period while STEM specific textbooks rose by 10.2%.

According to Textbook Equity LLC, in 1915 the average textbook cost was $1.50 which today translates to $22 however the actual textbook average cost in 2012 was $133 or six times the cost-of-living index rate.

But even more shocking is that between 1978 and 2012, textbooks have increased by 812%.  “Compared to the 250% increase in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) over the last 34 years, college textbooks have risen more than three times the amount of the average increase for all goods and services” (American Enterprise Institute).


Source: American Enterprise Institute, 2012


For More Information

Which Major Has the Most Expensive Textbooks?                  

Textbook Equity LLC                                     

American Enterprise Institute