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Most popular majors

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

Response:
Of the 1,791,000 bachelor’s degrees conferred in 2011–12, the greatest numbers of degrees were conferred in the fields of business (367,000), social sciences and history (179,000), health professions and related programs (163,000), psychology (109,000), and education (106,000). At the master’s degree level, the greatest numbers of degrees were conferred in the fields of business (192,000) and education (178,000). At the doctor’s degree level, the greatest numbers of degrees were conferred in the fields of health professions and related programs (62,100), legal professions and studies (46,800), education (10,000), engineering (8,700), biological and biomedical sciences (7,900), psychology (5,900), and physical sciences and science technologies (5,400).

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 39 percent overall between 2001–02 and 2011–12, 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 2006–07 than in 2001–02, but then rose 34 percent between 2006–07 and 2011–12. Also, the number of degrees conferred in computer and information sciences was 16 percent lower in 2006–07 than in 2001–02, but the number in 2011–12 was 12 percent higher than in 2006–07.

In contrast, the number of bachelor’s degrees conferred in the combined fields of engineering and engineering technologies increased 10 percent between 2001–02 and 2006–07, and then increased a further 20 percent between 2006–07 and 2011–12. 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 in the first half. For example, the number of degrees conferred in physical sciences and science technologies increased by 19 percent between 2001–02 and 2006–07 and then by 25 percent between 2006–07 and 2011–12. The number of degrees conferred in health professions and related programs increased by 40 percent between 2001–02 and 2006–07 and then by 61 percent between 2006–07 and 2011–12. Also, the number of degrees conferred in public administration and social services increased by 19 percent between 2001–02 and 2006–07 and then by 28 percent between 2006–07 and 2011–12. Other fields with sizable numbers of degrees (over 5,000 in 2011–12) that showed increases of 30 percent or more between 2006–07 and 2011–12 included parks, recreation, leisure, and fitness studies (42 percent); multi/interdisciplinary studies (42 percent); and homeland security, law enforcement, and firefighting (37 percent).

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. (2015). Digest of Education Statistics, 2013 (NCES 2015-011) 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