What’s In a Major?

by d

via Flickr

Forbes has some nifty stats on the most popular majors for men and women.

According to the most recent American Freshman survey, conducted annually by the University of California, Los Angeles, undergraduates’ chief objective in life is to be financially well-off. For this new crop of college students, attaining wealth ranks higher than raising a family and becoming an authority in their chosen field. Moreover, they listed their primary factor in choosing a school program as whether the graduates get good jobs.

Long gone are the days of attending college to develop a “meaningful philosophy of life,” which was the top concern for freshmen in 1971. Now, students focus on employability and potential earnings, both reflected in the undergraduate majors they pursue.

Business is #1 for both genders, with men and women virtually neck and neck. That’s not surprising, considering the emphasis on earning potential.

I’m sure people will want to use this as evidence for a natural split in interests by gender. Though it certainly displays a difference between the sexes (men seem to prefer skills-oriented tracks, women prefer more abstract or cerebral ones), this list doesn’t give evidence for either nature or nurture.

Most popular for men (click for more stats):

  1. Business (51% of all degrees in this field go to men)
  2. Social Sciences and History (50.7%)
  3. Engineering and Engineering Technologies (83.2%)
  4. Visual and Performing Arts (38.6%)
  5. Computer and Information Sciences and Support Services  (82.4%)
  6. Biological and Biomedical Sciences (40.6%)
  7. Communication and Communication Technologies (37.5%)
  8. Education (21.3%)
  9. Psychology (22.9%)
  10. Security and Protective Services (50.1%)

Most popular for women (click for more stats):

  1. Business (49% of all degrees in this field go to women)
  2. Health and Related Clinical Sciences (85.4%)
  3. Social Sciences and History (49.3%)
  4. Education (78.7%)
  5. Psycholoy (77.1%)
  6. Visual and Performing Arts (61.4%)
  7. Communication and Communication Technologies (62.5%)
  8. Biological and Biomedical Sciences (59.4%)
  9. English Language and Literature/Letters (67.9%)
  10. Liberal Arts and Sciences, General Studies, Humanities (66.2%)

Very interesting lists. I find the numbers sort of brain-twister-y. How can men make up only a fifth of all Education and Psych majors, yet those are still in the top 10? Clearly they’re concentrating ALL their efforts on the first few.

Even more interesting? Each slide lists potential careers for that major. For some reason, Forbes can only see an Education degree being put toward teaching elementary or secondary school. Apparently administration, special ed, curriculum writing, and college-level teaching don’t make the list.

One Comment to “What’s In a Major?”

  1. I just want to say that I love this lil Tweet meme you’ve got up here! I must speak with you about it at the soonest convenient time! 🙂

    I know what you mean about the skew on this. It is kind of interesting. Although, it’s not as bad as the anti-math skillz that Fox News uses on their polls! But, that has nothing to do with this, it was just an unnecessary jab at Faux News (but it amused me, so I did it anyway, sorries!)

    These are still interesting stats, even if they probably could’ve expanded their potential careers, especially in some obvious areas. I like this post, though, and I RT’d it. 🙂

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