Wondering what to study in college? Find out about different majors in college and the job prospects for each field of study.
Choosing what to major in to prepare you for your career can feel like a daunting and once-in-a-lifetime decision. There are so many different majors in college, and while some people know from the age of 5 what they want to be when they grow up, others are unsure and constantly change their mind even throughout their college career.
The good news is that the average student changes their major 2-3 times before graduating, so if you’re already trying to figure out the best way to make your decision, you’re a step ahead of the curve!
Here you’ll find everything you need to know about what a college major is, when you’re supposed to declare it, how you can decide what it will be, and a look at some of the most popular majors.
What is a Major?
A major is the subject that you specialize in learning during your college career. When you select a major, about one third to one half of the courses you fulfill during your university studies will be in that subject area.
What is a Minor? Double Major?
Some colleges offer the option to declare both a major and a minor, or even a double major. A minor is another specialization, but it requires less units than a major to earn. A double major is exactly that — majoring in two subjects.
When Do You Declare a Major?
Typically, students can either apply to college with a declared major, or they can enter as undeclared. By the end of their second (sophomore) year, it’s expected that you’ll have completed the proper number of undergraduate/general units to then move into major-specific, and therefore more tailored, coursework.
How Do You Decide?
There’s a few aspects to consider when deciding upon your major. Firstly, what do you like? As in, what subject matters interests you, are you good at and at the same time, offers some challenge?
Think about your career goals. If you already have a specific profession in mind, find out what people major in to enter the field. If you’re unsure, you can think about your current set of skills and figure out a major that is conducive to that range of skills.
Lastly, you want to be realistic. While it’s possible to be successful in learning a new topic, you want to really be honest about what you’re good at and the way you like to learn. For example, some people are naturally more analytical and logical which bodes well for computer science and mathematical-based subjects like economics, whereas others are artistic or good communicators, which works well in humanities and liberal arts.
A List of Popular Majors
Now that you have a brief understanding of what a major is and when you need to decide by, let’s explore what the Princeton Review has found to be the 10 most popular college majors.
1. Computer Science
As a computer science major, you’ll be prepared to enter the world of technology, computers and IT. Courses will provide you with an understanding of computer software, hardware and systems that help businesses and the public sector function efficiently.
Communications majors spend time understanding the theory and practical side of communicating effectively, which prepares you well for a position in advertising, marketing, public relations, media, education, social services and more.
3. Political Science
The study of government and politics is often chosen for those who wish to become lawyers or enter the field of public policy and government. Political science majors utilize strong communication skills, analytical reasoning and become well-versed with political philosophy, theory and practice.
Majoring in business will prepare you for many work opportunities as you’ll learn principles of accounting, finance, marketing, human resources, statistics, economics, operations research and more. Business offers a well-rounded scope to understanding how to budget, make decisions, consider ethics and the allocation of resources.
Relying heavily on math and logic, economics is the study of decision-making and how governments, businesses, individuals and societies function. By understanding goods and services and supply and demand, economics majors often go on to work in business, law, international relations and government.
6. English Language and Literature
English programs focus on language, literature, and writing across fiction, nonfiction and poetry from around the world throughout history. This degree is beneficial for those looking to go into the field of law, journalism, education or continue with graduate studies.
As the study that analyzes why people behave the way they do and seeks to understand the biology of the brain and the actions of the humans, psychology majors focus on cognition, learning, emotion, perception, and the like. Psychology majors don’t just become therapists and counselors, but they can also enter the fields of teaching, child development, law, and consultancy.
Nursing majors take traditional science courses and then begin clinical rotations. Upon graduation, nursing majors are required to pass a licensure exam to certify them to work with patients.
9. Chemical Engineering
Chemical engineering overlaps with biology, engineering, chemistry and biochemistry. The major prepares students to build and operate in chemical plants or food and pharmaceutical companies. Chemical engineers help to produce products that are the least harmful to the environment.
Studying plants, animals and humans, biology majors understand how cells function from the molecular level to the environmental level on a macro scale. Oftentimes, biology majors continue to medical school to become doctors, or enter professions as biologists, optometrists, environmentalists and ecologists.
While this is just a look at some of the most common majors, it is by no means an expansive or complete list.
In order to find out about more majors, especially if nothing here strikes your fancy, be sure to consult with the following resources that can help you decide the best major for you:
- Career counselors
- College counselors
- Relatives and mentors
- Myers Briggs Personality test
- This List of Popular Majors
If you’re still unsure about what you want to major in, don’t feel too stressed because you can always change your major during college. Plus, there are useful things you can proactively do to find out more about yourself and what you like. These include:
- Getting an Internship
- Trying Different Jobs
- Finding a Mentor
While choosing a major is a big decision, you’re not alone in the process. You know yourself best, but there are many tools you can leverage and people you can talk to in order to find out more about what you can expect when you study a specific subject.