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Most popular college majors in America

  • Most popular college majors in America

    With more and more alternative options for classes popping up in the college world each year (Harry Potter literary theory, anyone?), picking out a major and a semester's worth of courses can seem pretty daunting for any new student. And though the number and types of majors available vary from campus to campus, almost every school in the United States will have an overwhelming amount of degrees to choose from. Students are even going so far as to create their own majors when the college allows it, giving them the flexibility and freedom to invest time in just the classes that interest them and providing their resumes with a specific angle when it's time to find a job after graduation.

    In 2018, there were 19.9 million students projected to attend U.S. colleges and universities in the fall, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, a number that was lower than 2010 but higher than the year 2000. Between 2018 and 2027, however, the center predicts that total enrollment will increase to 20.5 million. Colleges and universities are expected to award 1 million associate degrees, 1.9 million bachelor degrees, 780,000 master's degrees, and 182,000 doctorate degrees through the 2018–2019 school year.

    Stacker examined 2017 data from FiveThirtyEight to find the most popular college majors in the country, ranked by most graduates of all ages. Those numbers were paired with information about careers and college majors from The College Board (the non-profit organization that creates the SAT and PSAT tests) and career outlooks from 2019 from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' Occupational Outlook Handbook.

    For comparison, the U.S. Department of Labor projects an average growth rate of 7% in employment for all jobs between 2016 and 2026. The median annual wage for all workers was $38,640 in 2018. Here, see if your major is among the most popular.

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  • #100. Communication technologies

    - Major category: computers & mathematics
    - Total graduates: 62,141
    - Unemployment rate: 8.5%
    - Median income: $50,000

    Communications technologies students are taught how to operate equipment and manage procedures in the communications industry. This can include anything from film to TV to computers. Continued education and earning a master's degree in the computer and information research science field can earn recipients $118,370 annually.

  • #99. Miscellaneous engineering technologies

    - Major category: engineering
    - Total graduates: 64,196
    - Unemployment rate: 6.0%
    - Median income: $63,000

    With technology becoming increasingly relevant in the United States, it would not be surprising to see this number shoot up in the coming years. If you choose to become an engineering teacher, for example, the growth rate is projected to rise much faster than average in 2019, with 5,000 to 9,999 projected new jobs over 10 years.

  • #98. Medical assisting services

    - Major category: health
    - Total graduates: 64,316
    - Unemployment rate: 3.1%
    - Median income: $55,000

    Medical assistants often spend their days performing administrative and clinical tasks in doctors' offices and hospitals. Employment for the job itself is projected to increase by almost 30% from 2016 to 2026; medical assistants earned an average of $16.16 per hour in 2018.

  • #97. Nutrition sciences

    - Major category: health
    - Total graduates: 64,534
    - Unemployment rate: 6.3%
    - Median income: $49,500

    Nutrition students often work at their college health centers to supplement their learning and then go on to work in jobs as food service managers or health educators. There were 68,000 dietitians and nutritionists working in the United States in 2016, and the job is projected to grow 16% by 2026.

  • #96. Aerospace engineering

    - Major category: engineering
    - Total graduates: 65,734
    - Unemployment rate: 4.2%
    - Median income: $80,000

    An aerospace engineer may design anything from aircrafts to spaceships to missiles. The job outlook is average, with a 6% projected increase in employment and there were close to 70,000 aerospace engineers working in the country in 2016.

  • #95. Pre-law and legal studies

    - Major category: law & public policy
    - Total graduates: 67,037
    - Unemployment rate: 7.0%
    - Median income: $48,000

    Pre-law students can go on to become lawyers, judges, and government officials. Just sticking with a bachelor's degree could lead to a job as an arbitrator, mediator, or conciliator, all of which are projected to increase in job outlook by 10% according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

  • #94. Mathematics teacher education

    - Major category: education
    - Total graduates: 68,808
    - Unemployment rate: 3.3%
    - Median income: $43,000

    A degree in mathematics teacher education can be a step toward becoming a high school, elementary, or middle school math teacher. Graduates can also go on to become accountants or professional mathematician doing investment analyses or developing software. In 2016, there were 1,018,700 high school teaching jobs in the country.

  • #93. Microbiology

    - Major category: biology & life science
    - Total graduates: 68,885
    - Unemployment rate: 5.1%
    - Median income: $60,000

    Employment in the microbiology field—the study of microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, and fungi—is growing at an average pace. Most microbiologists either go on to get a Ph.D. to work on independent research at universities, though it's possible to get an entry-level job with just a bachelor's degree.

  • #92. Forestry

    - Major category: agriculture & natural resources
    - Total graduates: 69,447
    - Unemployment rate: 4.3%
    - Median income: $58,000

    For lovers of the outdoors, a degree in forestry may lead to a dream career. Students learn how to develop and manage forests in remote and urban areas. There were less than 35,000 conservation scientist and forester jobs in 2016.

  • #91. Communication disorders sciences and services

    - Major category: health
    - Total graduates: 74,977
    - Unemployment rate: 4.6%
    - Median income: $42,000

    This program focuses on the principles and treatment of speech, language, hearing, and cognitive communication problems, usually caused by disease, injury, or disability. Graduates may go on to become speech pathologists, a profession predicted to grow faster than average in the coming years.

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