The Most Expensive Textbooks and Infamous Majors for Pricey Books

most expensive textbooks

All college students know that apart from their high tuition costs, their textbooks are also responsible for putting a strain on their wallets.

If you’re not yet a college student or are considering changing your major to save some money – we don’t blame you!

But what are the ideal majors? How do I make sure I save money on textbooks?

The real question is: what are the most expensive textbooks and what are the majors that are infamous for pricy textbooks?

We’ve looked around and we’ve done the research for you.

What Are the Most Expensive Textbooks?

Before choosing or switching your major, make sure you check out these expensive textbooks. If they are above your desired budget, then you may want to avoid these majors altogether.

Make sure that, when shopping for textbooks that you always try to find the best deal.

The Top 3 Most Expensive Textbooks

At the top of the list is Acta Philosophorum The First Journal of Philosophy. This retails at a whopping $1,450 for a new copy. As you guessed it, this is for Philosophy majors – but, this price should not make you shy away from majoring in Philosophy.

In fact, it is highly unlikely that your Philosophy professors would assign this textbook at all. To be on the safe side, you can always contact the respective department beforehand to ask if any of the expensive textbooks are required.

Next, for $1,215 is the Encyclopedia of International Media and Communications. Again, if you are a Media Studies or Communications major it is unlikely that you would have to shell out for this textbook. These majors are increasing in popularity and as a result, the textbooks will be available in abundance and are probably on the more affordable side.

At $850 you can purchase a copy of Management Science An Anthology. This is a textbook for business majors. Even if you never come across this particular textbook, be prepared to shell out a lot for majoring in business – whether at the undergraduate or graduate level.

Majoring in business, while a popular major, is likely to break your bank. However, this is considered to be one of the most practical majors as well. Keep this in mind when choosing your major – is the cost of tuition an investment or a burden?

The Sciences

Now let’s look at some of the most expensive textbooks in the sciences.

We start with the Biostatistical Genetics and Genetic Epidemiology that retails for $665. This is a very specific study of science, and most likely, all of your textbooks will be expensive. Even if they don’t reach the $665 mark, they are unlikely to be less than $400.

Another expensive textbook is Solid State Chemistry and Its Applications, which costs $500. While an undergraduate course in general Chemistry may not be overly expensive, a specified focus of chemistry (or any hard science) will probably be expensive. This will especially be true for a graduate or doctoral program in the hard sciences.

But again, the hard sciences are the more practical majors. You want to study the job prospects and job availability to decide if the textbooks are an investment for your future.

But what about sciences that are not in the ‘hard sciences’ category?

The Companion Encyclopedia of Psychology costs $600. But most psychology majors will probably not need an encyclopedia of their entire field of study.

Psychology, however, can be an expensive major. And if you wish to go down the traditional route of psychology, you will need to pursue a Master’s or Ph.D. after you complete your undergraduate degree. The cost of textbooks (and tuition) will continue to increase as you move up to higher-level degrees.

While no medical textbooks made the list of most expensive textbooks, it is likely that medical students will have to shell out a lot for their textbooks.


This is a popular and important major. Regardless of what concentration of engineering you choose, you will probably find that your textbooks are expensive. Engineering is in demand and often, engineering majors go on to have very high paying jobs. As a result, engineering is seen more of an investment than many other majors.

The more specialized and rare your concentration of engineering, the most expensive your tuition and textbooks will be.

The two most expensive textbooks in Engineering are Concepts and Design of Chemical Reactors at $593 and Advanced Semiconductor and Organic Nano-Techniques at $570. As you can see, these are very specific textbooks for specialized concentrations in Engineering.

Liberal Arts

Liberal Arts degrees and textbooks are usually among the most affordable options. For example, if you majored in English Literature, you will probably spend more money on novels than actual textbooks. And you can probably get those novels for free at the library.

Liberal Arts degrees, however, are not always the most practical option. It can be hard to find work in these fields and often, they are not the most high-paying.

Surprisingly, however, two of the most expensive textbooks in existence are from the Liberal Arts fields.

History of Early Film costs $740. And Feminism and Politics retail for $600.

Most film studies majors will probably not have to purchase a textbook that is as expensive as the aforementioned title. Most film theory textbooks will probably not exceed $100 – and you’ll likely find that most of them are far cheaper than that.

As for specialized studies such as Feminism, Queer Studies, Ethnic Studies, these will also probably not have a high cost to their textbooks.


Finally, economics is a great degree to pursue. Economics helps us understand how life works and how societies function. 

Unfortunately, if you do choose economics, you might end up splurging on textbooks. Ethics in Business and Economics costs $550 and Environment in the New Global Economy cost $510.

More mainstream books on economics (that may be part of your curriculum) are more affordable and will be available for less than $100. We’d suggest speaking to the department beforehand on the list of textbooks you’ll have to get.

Hard Work Pays Off

Now that you know the most expensive textbooks, you’ll have a better idea of what majors to choose and which ones to avoid. Regardless of your decision, we wish you well and assure you that your hard work will pay off.

Be sure to check out more great content on textbooks and surviving college.