Deciding on a major is a critical step for students, and it's often required to register for specific courses.

For many undergraduates, choosing a major is intimidating, especially when colleges and universities offer dozens or even hundreds of options. Researching the most popular majors can help undecided students narrow their selection and find the best majors for their interests and professional goals.

In this guide, we introduce the majors that grant the most bachelor's degrees every year and explore core skills, common courses, and career paths for each option.

10 Most Popular Majors
Rank Major

1

Business

2

Health Professions and Related Programs

3

Social Sciences and History

4

Engineering

5

Biological and Biomedical Sciences

6

Psychology

7

Communication, Journalism, and Related Programs

8

Visual and Performing Arts

9

Computer and Information Sciences

10

Education

The data used in this article reflects the most popular bachelor's degrees as measured by the number of degrees conferred in 2018-2019, the most recent year of available information.

Business

Business is the most popular undergraduate major, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Business majors study topics like marketing, human resources, finance, accounting, and organizational management. They can pursue specializations in healthcare, technology, and entrepreneurship.

During a business degree, enrollees explore data analytics, financial accounting, business communication, and organizational leadership. The degree strengthens analytical and problem-solving skills through project-based learning, internships, and coursework.

After earning a business degree, graduates can pursue careers as accountants, business analysts, budget analysts, human resources specialists, and financial analysts. A business degree also prepares students for graduate programs, such as MBAs.

Top-Paying Career in Business

Chief Executive
Median Pay (2019) $184,460
Projected Job Growth (2019-2029) -10%

Fastest-Growing Career in Business

Financial Manager
Median Pay (2019) $129,890
Projected Job Growth (2019-2029) 15%

Health Professions and Related Programs

Health professions degree-seekers study nursing, public health, and health science — all career-focused training for medical occupations. During a bachelor's program, undergraduates learn about human anatomy, medical terminology, and best practices for patient care. Public health programs also emphasize healthcare analysis and statistics. Most healthcare programs incorporate internships or practicums to help enrollees develop practical experience.

Healthcare occupations have above-average projected job growth rates, making the field an excellent choice for long-term careers. Graduates can work as nurses, lab technicians, health educators, and healthcare administrators. The degree also prepares students for graduate programs in health-related fields.

Top-Paying Career in the Health Professions

Anesthesiologist
Median Pay (2019) $261,730
Projected Job Growth (2019-2029) 0%

Fastest-Growing Career in the Health Professions

Nurse Anesthetist
Median Pay (2019) $174,790
Projected Job Growth (2019-2029) 45%

Social Sciences and History

This field considers human organizations and institutions. Related majors include sociology, political science, anthropology, and economics — all fields in which students examine people's behavior in groups and social institutions. History majors explore the past while strengthening their research and writing skills.

During a social science degree, undergraduates build strong analytical and critical thinking skills. Social science learners may complete internships, and many programs require senior research papers.

As a liberal arts field, the social sciences and history prepare graduates for careers in business, education, and technology, leading to employment in roles like technical writer, policy analyst, and teacher. Many students also to on to pursue graduate degrees in law or the social sciences.

Top-Paying Career in the Field of Social Sciences and History

Political Scientist
Median Pay (2019) $122,220
Projected Job Growth (2019-2029) 6%

Fastest-Growing Career in the Field of Social Sciences and History

Urban and Regional Planner
Median Pay (2019) $74,350
Projected Job Growth (2019-2029) 11%

Engineering

Engineering majors study how to apply math and science principles to real-world problems. They learn about structural mechanics, materials science, and technical analysis. An engineering degree strengthens analytical, technical, and problem-solving skills.

Within the field, majors can specialize in types of engineering. For example, they could specialize in civil engineering, which deals with building projects, or mechanical engineering, which focuses on power-generating machines.

Engineering majors complete labs and projects to develop practical experience. Many programs also incorporate internships and capstone projects. With an engineering degree, graduates can work in roles like civil engineer, mechanical engineer, electrical engineer, and aerospace engineer.

Top-Paying Engineering Career

Petroleum Engineer
Median Pay (2019) $137,720
Projected Job Growth (2019-2029) 3%

Fastest-Growing Engineering Career

Environmental Engineering Technician
Median Pay (2019) $50,620
Projected Job Growth (2019-2029) 7%

Biological and Biomedical Sciences

The biological and biomedical sciences teach undergraduates about living organisms and systems, with some majors focused on medical applications of biological training. Biology majors study microbiology, cellular biology, ecology, and immunology, while specialized programs in biochemistry, genetics, and biomedical science combine training in biology with chemistry and medicine. Biological and biomedical sciences majors must complete classroom and laboratory requirements.

With a biological and biological sciences degree, a graduate can work as a lab technician, health educator, or genetic counselor. Many also enroll in professional or graduate programs to become doctors, biologists, or research scientists.

Top-Paying Biological Sciences Career

Anesthesiologist
Median Pay (2019) $261,730
Projected Job Growth (2019-2029) 0%

Fastest-Growing Biological Sciences Career

Postsecondary Biological Sciences Teacher
Median Pay (2019) $83,300
Projected Job Growth (2019-2029) 9%

Psychology

Psychology majors study human behavior and behavioral disorders. They learn about human developmental stages, social behavior, and abnormal psychology.

Within the major, learners can specialize in areas like organizational psychology, counseling psychology, and school psychology. Depending on their specialization, degree-seekers often complete research projects, laboratory assignments, and internships to strengthen their skills.

Psychologist careers require a graduate degree. After earning a bachelor's in psychology, graduates can apply to master's programs or pursue careers in social services, community services, or business. For example, training in organizational psychology prepares graduates for careers in human resources, organizational management, and business analysis.

Top-Paying Career in the Field of Psychology

Psychologist
Median Pay (2019) $80,370
Projected Job Growth (2019-2029) 3%

Fastest-Growing in the Field of Psychology

Social Worker
Median Pay (2019) $50,470
Projected Job Growth (2019-2029) 13%

Communication, Journalism, and Related Programs

Communication and journalism majors learn to effectively and ethically deliver messages to different audiences. The field builds strong interpersonal communication, research, and writing skills. For example, journalism majors strengthen their analytical and writing abilities while studying journalism ethics, reporting, and news editing.

In communications, undergrads specialize in public relations, media studies, business communications, and mass media. Seniors often complete capstone projects to demonstrate their skills in journalism and communication.

Graduates with degrees in journalism or communication can pursue careers in journalism, public relations, advertising, and politics. The degree also leads to opportunities in marketing, brand management, and media.

Top-Paying Communication and Journalism Career

Art Director
Median Pay (2019) $94,220
Projected Job Growth (2019-2029) -2%

Fastest-Growing Communication and Journalism Career

Film and Video Editor
Median Pay (2019) $63,780
Projected Job Growth (2019-2029) 22%

Visual and Performing Arts

Visual and performing arts enrollees study drawing, painting, sculpture, and photography in fine arts programs, while theater majors specialize in acting, set design, directing, and screenwriting. Within the digital arts, students study graphic design, animation, and game design.

Visual and performing arts majors often complete senior projects or portfolios to showcase their work. Some programs also incorporate internships at art galleries, design studios, and theaters.

Visual and performing arts graduates work as fine artists, graphic designers, animators, actors, and in other fields related to their degrees. For example, they can pursue careers in art education, museums, film, and media.

Top-Paying Career in the Visual and Performing Arts

Art Director
Median Pay (2019) $94,220
Projected Job Growth (2019-2029) -2%

Fastest-Growing Career in the Visual and Performing Arts

Special Effects Artist and Animator
Median Pay (2019) $75,270
Projected Job Growth (2019-2029) 4%

Computer and Information Sciences

Computer and information sciences majors develop technical and problem-solving skills. Within the field, undergrads major in computer science, information technology, cybersecurity, and information systems. Common courses include programming languages, data analytics, information security, and algorithms. Some programs incorporate internship opportunities, and computer and information science students often complete group projects and research.

After earning a degree in computer and information sciences, graduates work as software developers, database administrators, computer systems analysts, information security analysts, and IT project managers. With experience or a master's degree, professionals can move into roles as computer and information systems managers or computer and information research scientists.

Top-Paying Computer and Information Sciences Career

Computer and Information Research Scientist
Median Pay (2019) $122,840
Projected Job Growth (2019-2029) 15%

Fastest-Growing Computer and Information Sciences Career

Software Developer
Median Pay (2019) $107,510
Projected Job Growth (2019-2029) 22%

Education

Education majors learn to teach pupils of all ages, often majoring in areas like early childhood education, elementary education, and secondary education. During a teaching degree, undergrads study instructional techniques, classroom management methods, and assessment strategies. Future middle school and high school teachers also take courses in specialization areas, including language arts, the sciences, and social studies.

Most education programs incorporate student teaching experiences. Each undergrad shadows an experienced teacher and gains classroom skills to prepare for future employment. After earning an education degree, graduates can work as teachers and early childhood educators, and those with a graduate degree can become education administrators or principals.

Top-Paying Education Career

Postsecondary Law Teacher
Median Pay (2019) $113,530
Projected Job Growth (2019-2029) 7%

Fastest-Growing Education Career

Postsecondary Health Specialties Teacher
Median Pay (2019) $97,320
Projected Job Growth (2019-2029) 21%

Are Popular Majors the Best Majors?

The most popular majors are not necessarily the best majors. While a popular major can sometimes mean strong earning potential and personal fulfillment, each student has different abilities and interests.

The best major for one student might not appeal to another, even if it's in a popular field. Rather than choosing a major solely based on popularity, undergrads should consider their unique interests and career goals.

Some schools cap enrollment in popular majors or courses. Similarly, high-demand courses may allow majors to enroll before non-majors. Understanding which classes fill up quickly helps students get into the courses they need for graduation.

Learning more about in-demand majors can help students do research into choosing a degree, especially for students who must pre-declare a major to register for classes. Learn more about how to choose a major and check out college rankings for different majors with our helpful guides.

Career Benefits of Popular Majors

Many of the most popular majors are popular because they offer many career benefits. For example, a bachelor's in business trains students for high-paying careers in finance, while a computer science degree prepares software developers to work in an in-demand field.

Earning a bachelor's degree also translates into a higher average salary and lower unemployment rate than for people without a degree. For example, in 2018, the median annual income for a professional with a high school diploma was $45,580 for men and $32,620 for women. In contrast, the median annual earning for professionals with bachelor's degrees was $75,150 for men and $56,680 for women.

Similarly, those with bachelor's degrees saw unemployment rates of 2.2% and median annual earnings of $64,896, while the median for all workers reached 3.0% unemployment with a median annual income of $50,388.

Most Popular, Highest-Earning Careers With a Bachelor's Degree
Career 2019 Median Salary Projected Job Growth (2019-2029) Common Bachelor's Degree
Financial Managers $129,890 15% Finance
Software Developers and Software Quality Assurance Analysts and Testers $107,510 22% Computer and Information Sciences
Medical and Health Services Managers $100,980 32% Health Professions
General and Operations Managers $100,780 6% Business
Management Analysts $85,260 11% Business
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Frequently Asked Questions

What Degrees Are in High Demand?

Degrees in healthcare, computer science, engineering, and business prepare graduates for work in some of the fastest-growing fields.

What Are the Best Majors To Get a Job?

Graduates with degrees in education, business, healthcare, engineering, and computer science can all find gainful employment. Instead of asking about the best college majors for the job market, undergrads should consider their individual skills, interests, and career goals. The BLS field of degree tool can help students in every major identify job opportunities in growing fields.

What Are the Best Majors for the Future?

Majors that build critical thinking and analytical skills, including diverse fields like liberal arts, healthcare, and engineering, prepare graduates for a changing job market. While technical skills may become out of date, the ability to think and learn can help professionals future-proof their careers.

What Is the Safest Degree To Earn?

Majors in business, the liberal arts, healthcare, and STEM all have strong job growth projections and opportunities for the future.

What Is the Best Major for the Future?

The best majors for the future are those that strengthen critical thinking skills, allowing graduates to adapt to changes in the job market and workforce. Majors in the liberal arts, engineering, STEM, and healthcare all prepare graduates for long-term career success.

What Are Fun Majors in College?

Every student defines a "fun" major differently, depending on their personal interests and abilities. Some find studying abnormal psychology as a psych major exciting, while others prefer working with children in education. Other fun majors include media studies, graphic design, marine biology, and popular culture studies.

Genevieve Carlton holds a Ph.D. in history from Northwestern University and earned tenure as a history professor at the University of Louisville. An award-winning historian and writer, Genevieve has published multiple scholarly articles and a book with the University of Chicago Press. She currently works as a freelance writer and consultant.

Header Image Credit: Tassii | Getty Images

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