Common College Majors and How to Choose Yours

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Most Common College Majors by Study Area

No matter where you are in choosing your college major, the list below will help you to explore over 1,300 college majors and the over 7,000 accredited colleges that offer them. Simply select a college study area below and you will be taken to a list of the majors in that field as well as a list of schools that offer degree programs in that major.

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Before You Choose Your College Major

Find Out What Your School’s Major Declaration Timeline Is

Often colleges allow you to take college courses for a year or two before they require you to declare or choose a major. In fact, most colleges will not require you to choose your major until the end of your sophomore year. This means you can start college as an “undecided” major and take classes – generals and major-specific if it’s allowed – and explore your interests before you have to officially declare your major.

It’s Ok to Declare Your Major and Then Change It… Most Times

You may declare your major and then after taking some classes, discover that you don’t really enjoy the idea of working in that major’s career field when you graduate. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), 80% of students in the U.S. change their major at least 1-3 times throughout their college career. Note: if you are in your junior year or later of college and are considering changing your major, be sure to explore what it is about your current major or field that you don’t like. Then talk with your department counselor or advisor about how changing your major may affect your graduation timeline and career options. You may find a related field within your major that interests you and that you can still work in after graduating with your current declared major.

How to Choose Your College Major

  1. Explore your ideal careers – If you could do any job for the rest of your life, what would you do? If you have an idea of a job or career field that you feel you’d like, that’s a good starting place. You can use resources like the Bureau of Labor System’s Occupational Handbook to explore different careers if you are having a hard time coming up with future job ideas.
  2. Find out what inspires and interests you – If you think about it, what things bring you genuine happiness? Is it people? Maybe you should consider a service-oriented occupation like clinical psychology or counseling, teaching, or nursing. Is it working with numbers and problem-solving? Maybe business, finance or mathematics are exciting options for you. If you are unsure of where your interests lie, consider filling out this college major worksheet from LiveCareer.
  3. Take a career test drive – If you think a certain job or career interests you but aren’t sure, there’s no better way to find out than by test driving it. This is where job shadowing or lower-level positions come in handy. If you can make a connection with a professional in your ideal career, ask if you can come observe or shadow them at work for a day or more. You may also be able to find an entry or lower-level position at a company that would help you get a feel for the industry to see if it’s a career field you want to work in.
  4. Take classes or online courses to “try on” different majors – It’s probable that if you enjoy learning about a specific subject through course material, you will also enjoy some of the professions within that field. Consider taking a couple of lower-cost, introductory courses through community colleges, online colleges, or through an online course platform like Coursera, Open Culture, EdX, Stanford, or Harvard.
  5. Use your network of advisors – Ask questions. You have a wealth of personal advisors within your network of family, friends, and even work associates. Find advisors who are happy in their careers. These people have experience and most will have some insight for you into what they think you’d be good at and enjoy. This team of advisors also has years of insight into different careers and jobs that they’ve personally had experience with and may be able to help you understand the related pros and cons.
  6. Learn about degree and career requirements – Before you choose a major and start your path toward graduation, it’s important to learn about the different education and training requirements that you’ll need to meet before you can start working in your chosen field. There are often pre-requisite requirements that you will need to meet before you can apply to a program or major. After you get into your major, there may also be some large requirements that you’ll need to meet before you can graduate. There may also be some post-graduation efforts you’ll need to meet before you start working in your career field (state or regional licensure, certifications, etc.). Each of these requirements can add time to your schooling and training. Learn about these things before you get too far in your major classes.

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10 Most Popular Majors for Bachelor’s Graduates

10 Most Popular Bachelor's Degrees

  1. Business: 363,800
  2. Health professions and related programs: 216,200
  3. Social sciences and history: 167,000
  4. Psychology: 118,000
  5. Biological and biomedical sciences: 110,000
  6. Engineering: 98,000
  7. Visual and performing arts: 96,000
  8. Education: 92,000
  9. Communication, journalism, and related programs: 90,700
  10. Homeland security, law enforcement, and firefighting: 63,000

*Based on 2014-2015 bachelor’s degrees conferred by postsecondary institutions, by field of study. From the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

(Note: All data presented is provided directly by each individual college via annual surveys sponsored by state and federal government agencies including the National Center for Education Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics, etc. As such, all data is free from commercial bias and is updated regularly.)

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