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Most popular majors

Question:
What are the most popular majors for postsecondary students?

Response:
Of the 1,716,000 bachelor's degrees conferred in 201011, the greatest numbers of degrees were conferred in the fields of business (365,000), social sciences and history (177,000), health professions and related programs (143,000), education (104,000), and psychology (101,000). At the master's degree level, the greatest numbers of degrees were conferred in the fields of business (187,000) and education (185,000). At the doctor's degree level, the greatest numbers of degrees were conferred in the fields of health professions and related programs (60,200), legal professions and studies (44,900), education (9,600), engineering (8,400), biological and biomedical sciences (7,700), psychology (5,900), and physical sciences and science technologies (5,300).

In recent years, the numbers of bachelor's degrees conferred have followed patterns that differed significantly by field of study. While the number of degrees conferred increased by 38 percent overall between 200001 and 201011, there was substantial variation among the different fields of study, as well as shifts in the patterns of change during this time period. For example, the number of bachelor's degrees conferred in agriculture and natural resources was 1 percent lower in 200506 than in 200001, but then rose 24 percent between 200506 and 201011. In contrast, the number of degrees conferred in computer and information sciences was 8 percent higher in 200506 than in 200001, but the number in 201011 was 9 percent lower than in 200506. The number of bachelor's degrees conferred in the combined fields of engineering and engineering technologies increased 12 percent between 200001 and 200506, and then increased a further 14 percent between 200506 and 201011. In some other major fields, the number of bachelor's degrees also increased by somewhat higher percentages in the second half of the 10-year period than the first half. For example, the number of degrees conferred in biological sciences increased by 17 percent between 200001 and 200506, and then increased by 27 percent between 200506 and 201011; and the number conferred in physical sciences and science technologies increased by 14 percent between 200001 and 200506 and then by 20 percent between 200506 and 201011. The number of degrees conferred in health professions and related programs was 21 percent higher in 200506 than in 200001, but increased by 56 percent between 200506 and 201011. Other fields with sizable numbers of degrees (over 5,000 in 201011) that showed increases of 30 percent or more between 200506 and 201011 included parks, recreation, leisure, and fitness studies (41 percent); multi/interdisciplinary studies (38 percent); and homeland security, law enforcement, and firefighting (35 percent).

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. (2013). Digest of Education Statistics, 2012 (NCES 2014-015), Chapter 3.

Related Tables and Figures:  (Listed by Release Date)

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National Center for Education Statistics - http://nces.ed.gov
U.S. Department of Education