In the ever-evolving realm of higher education, certain majors have gained significant prominence, attracting the attention and aspirations of countless students. Through a comprehensive survey conducted by the NCES (National Center for Education Statistics), we are able to shed light on the top 5 most popular majors that have consistently held sway across universities throughout the United States. This blog provide valuable insights into the prevailing choices of students, offering a glimpse into the evolving landscape of higher education preferences.
Most Popular College Majors for 2023
With 387,851 degrees conferred in 2023, business is the most popular major. Part of this is due to the versatility of the business degree in terms of employment opportunities. Additionally, there is room for specialization within business, such as in marketing, finance, real estate, etc.
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In second place is health, with 257,282 degrees conferred. Covering majors such as nursing and public health, the public health major in particular found an increase of over 1000 percent from 2001 to 2020. As the demand for healthcare professionals increases, students gravitate more and more towards this major.
Social sciences and History
With 161,164 degrees conferred this, social
sciences and history comprise the third most popular category. The social
sciences tend to consist of majors such as anthropology, sociology, political
science, and economics, and with the versatility in profession and hiring, it’s
easy to see why this category would be a draw.
There were 128,332 engineering majors conferred in 2023. As the tech industry grows and expands, the demand for engineers also increases. The prospect of high starting wages and the continuing growth of the field attracts new college students each year.
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Biological and Biomedical Sciences
Following the trend of the increasing popularity of health and medical related majors, the field of life sciences awarded 126,590 majors this year. Graduates of this degree can elect to work in the medical, pharmaceutical, or research fields.
Rounding out the top ten are psychology in sixth place, computer and information sciences in seventh, visual and performing arts in eighth, communication and journalism in ninth, and education in tenth.
While these numbers correlate to the sum total of all degrees conferred across all US college institutions, it may not be an accurate reflection of individual institutions. For instance, a school such as UC Berkeley may have a much higher percentage of prospective engineering majors and a school such as CMU would attract much more computer science majors than reflected in the national numbers. Likewise, business may not be as popular at universities without a dedicated business program. Popular majors at individual institutions would also translate to increasing competitiveness so keep this in mind.
Insights for Making Personalized Major and Career Choices
Amidst the allure of popularity, let us not forget
that choosing a major should be a deeply personal decision, aligned with
individual passions and strengths. It is crucial to prioritize personal
fulfillment and consider one's unique talents when making such a significant
choice. By taking these factors into account, students can ensure that their
chosen major aligns with their individual goals and aspirations, leading to a
more fulfilling educational journey and ultimately a rewarding career path.
Most people pursue majors as a bridge to future careers. However, career satisfaction does not solely correspond to income or work-life balance. In a profile done by Forbes in 2021, the four factors below were determined as the best indicators of job satisfaction.
Your work should suit you.
Every person has different strengths and weaknesses. One person may find writing easy while another torturous. A person’s career should be suited to their individual strengths and talents. It is a mark of leadership to be able to align people’s individual skillsets with the most suitable jobs.
Your work should be personally meaningful.
Each person defines meaning differently and has different motivations for why they pursue certain goals. Though motivations and values may differ, the work a person accomplishes should be personally meaningful to them.
The people you work with matter.
Company culture and values are a significant factor that contributes to job satisfaction. Coworkers are an important part of the measurement of happiness within a profession.
Growth is important.
A high starting salary cannot replace growth within a job. Stagnation is one of the leading causes of dissatisfaction. The ability to achieve personal and professional goals, as well as acquiring new skills and goals are crucial to job satisfaction.
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Surveys of the happiest jobs in America yield surprising results, with top contenders ranging from religious clergy, firefighters, and teachers to data analysts, full stack engineers, and medical practitioners.
Keeping this in mind, while popular majors can be an insightful look into options that are available to students, a choice of major and profession should be made on an individual basis rather than merely following the crowd.