Deciding on a college major is one of those tough choices college students face. Mainly because it is an important one, as changing majors can cost the student both time and money.
Many newer students are unsure about their futures, making the undecided major popular among incoming college freshmen.
This is primarily because many students do not have any idea of what they want to do after college. This is why you will see some students begin college and take general recommended college classes, fulfill prerequisites to get them out of the way, or engage in exploratory studies.
Using data from the most recent Digest of Education Statistics from the U.S. Department of Education we are able to see the most popular college majors. The most popular majors fall into the categories of business, health, and social science.
Top 10 College Majors
- Business - Business Administration and Management is the most popular selected major. Business also includes finance, marketing, and accounting, which has a high demand right out of college.
- Health professions and related programs - Nursing is the most common major in the health profession. It is very competitive and some programs may have wait lists. However, you are pretty much guaranteed a job when majoring in nursing due to the shortage of nurses.
- Social Sciences and History - This includes anthropology, economics, geography, sociology and political science.
- Psychology - There seems to be two types of psychology majors. Those who are really into psychology and those who see psychology as an easy major and therefore an easy way to graduation. Many psychology majors don't technically go on to work in the psych field, but other related careers where the skills of such major can come in handy (ex: human resources, public relations, market research and sales).
- Biology - Biological and biomedical science majors do a lot of research and development and work in a laboratory or the field. Common employers of biology majors include hospitals, national & state parks, universities, pharmaceutical companies, research firms, aquariums and zoos.
- Engineering - Engineering is a major that typically produces a high-salaried job from the start, but plan on taking very aggressive math and science courses with this major.
- Visual and Performing Arts - Examples of common visual and performing arts majors include music, dance, fine arts and theater arts.
- Communications - This includes communication, journalism, and related programs. One of the fastest growing majors in college.
- Education - Elementary Education is the most popular as many of these majors go on to be K-12 classroom teachers.
- Computer and Information Sciences - Demand for computer science majors are on the rise and colleges have seen an increased interest in computer and information sciences.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. (2018). Digest of Education Statistics, 2016 (NCES 2017-094) Chapter 3. Bachelor's degrees conferred by postsecondary institutions, by field of study.
How to Find the Best College Major For You
After seeing all the numbers and data for the most popular college majors and seeing what the majority of other students have chosen for their major, you may be asking yourself, "What should I go to college for?"
Those still unsure about a college major should speak with a college advisor on campus who can provide help with choosing a major. An advisor can help in making the right choice, selecting the proper classes, and helping you find something you will enjoy and excel at.
You can visit career fairs to get a sense of what various careers are like, or even get first-hand experience by doing a college internship, which you can use to test out if a certain career is right for you.
Also make use of your college's career center, which is a great resource for career guidance for students.
You should decide what to major in by the end of your freshman year of college. Anything later than that makes it hard to complete the college major requirements within the normal four years.
Books that can help you decide what to major in: