Choosing a major is one of the most crucial decisions you will make in your college career. Once you decide what you want to do with the rest of your life, bachelor’s degree colleges and the right major can help you achieve those goals. However, it’s not easy to choose just one. That’s why we’ve compiled this list for prospective students who want to get a deeper understanding of the majors they could potentially pursue. Some might be perfect for you, while others might be less desirable because they don’t align with your interests or values. Whatever decision you make, take time to research all your possibilities before settling on a final choice.
What Are Majors in College?
A college major is a specific area or field that a student decides to study. Your major determines what courses you take and what skills you learn. Certain majors lend themselves to particular career paths. Thus, when you choose your major, you are also taking a big step toward determining what type of work you will do in the future.
If you’re uncertain of your major when you begin college, you may have the option to major in General Studies. This allows you to complete general education classes and investigate different subjects so that you can make a more informed decision about what major is the best fit. Likewise, if you choose a major in your first year of study but later discover that other fields are more aligned with your interests, you can change your major. Keep in mind, however, that changing your major close to your graduation date will likely extend the amount of time required to complete your degree.
Majors and Minors in College
Students who have interests in multiple subjects have the option to choose a major and a minor. While majors are specific degrees, minors are concentrations that allow you to take courses in subjects that are especially appealing to you and that may help hone your professional skills. Majors and minors often work hand in hand to help prepare you for a future career. For example, you might choose to major in marketing with a minor in graphic design.
Majors and minors are often within the same or similar fields of study, such as finance and economics. If you are equally passionate about two separate fields, you may be better suited to a double major, which allows you to earn two degrees at the same time.
Types of College Majors
Colleges and universities offer many kinds of majors. No matter your interests, you are likely to find a college major that allows you to gain valuable knowledge and skills.
Business is one of the most diverse fields when it comes to college majors. Possible majors in the business realm include:
- Administration or management
- International business
Each of these majors focuses on a different aspect of business, such as managing money, supervising employees, or engaging with customers. Business majors are a great fit for many different kinds of employers, including private companies, healthcare facilities, schools, and financial institutions.
Generally speaking, technology majors are skilled at using technology. However, the type of technology that interests you can help determine which major is the best fit. If you have a passion for technology, you may want to consider majors like:
- Data analytics
- Software development
- Web development
- Information technology
- Computer science
These majors all lend themselves to work in multiple industries, including government, healthcare, finance, and education. As technology continues to grow and evolve, tech majors will likely have a prominent place in the job market.
Although many people associate medical degrees with doctors, that is only one of many options available if you are interested in a career in medicine. Some of the most popular medical majors include:
- Physical therapy
- Athletic training
- Occupational therapy
When choosing a medical major, consider whether you want to work as a care provider, such as a nurse, or whether you would prefer to conduct research in a lab, which is the case for many biochemists. Several of these majors are excellent options if you hope to attend medical school, but they also serve as preparation for careers in hospitals, clinics, private practices, and research labs.
Art majors take coursework focused on different artistic mediums, including painting, ceramics, and photography. Depending on which kind of art you most enjoy, you might choose a major like:
- Fine arts
- Graphic design
- Digital arts
- Fashion design
- Languages and literature
- Interactive media design
While majoring in one of these areas, you will take courses that allow you to understand the history and theories of art, as well as how to create your own artistic works. Many art majors go on to work as content creators for private companies. Others become freelancers and sell their work to individual clients.
If you have an interest in the origins and interpretations of laws, a law major might be a great fit. Colleges and universities offer majors that relate to law in different ways, including:
- Business law
- Criminal justice
- Political science
Many students who major in law do so with the intention of one day attending law school and becoming attorneys. Other law majors hope to take on positions in government or the criminal justice system.
Most Popular College Majors
College students in the United States can choose from more than 1,000 possible majors, but some are in higher demand than others. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the most popular college degrees are:
- Business, including management and marketing
- Health professions and related programs, including nursing
- Social sciences and history
- Biological and biomedical sciences
In 2019 and 2020, more than half of the bachelor’s degrees conferred in the United States were in these fields of study, and 19% of those degrees were in business.
Highest Paying College Majors
When you choose a major, it’s important to consider your interests, skills, and career goals. For many students, potential future earnings are also an important consideration. While your college major definitely isn’t the only factor that determines how much money you will earn, certain majors are associated with higher-paying careers. A 2023 study by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York states that the majors with the highest median early career wages are :
- Chemical engineering
- Computer engineering
- Computer science
- Aerospace engineering
- Electrical engineering
These majors all have median annual wages above $70,000 per year. Engineering majors also have the highest mid-career wages, with chemical engineers earning median salaries of $120,000 annually. In addition to engineering, graduates of business, finance, and nursing programs also fall within the top 20 highest-paying college majors.
Best College Majors for the Future
When determining the best college majors for the future, it’s important to not only consider potential salaries but also growth in the field. As of 2021, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that healthcare occupations will grow 13% through 2031, which equates to approximately two million new jobs, in addition to jobs that result from retirements and career changes.
Similarly, the BLS projects that careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) will experience significant growth over the next several years. BLS data from 2021 shows that STEM occupations will experience a growth rate of 10.8% through 2031, compared to a 4.9% rate for non-STEM occupations.
With this in mind, the best college majors for the future include:
- Computer science and technology
- Healthcare and nursing
- Business and finance
Although business occupations do not have the accelerated growth rates of engineering or healthcare, business and finance degrees prepare students for a wide range of positions, so they have the opportunity to pursue jobs with a broad pool of employers.
Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Labor Market Outcomes of College Graduates
National Center for Education Statistics, Most Popular Majors
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment in STEM Occupations
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Healthcare Occupations
View our list below!
- Administrative Assistant
- Architectural Engineer
- Certified Nursing Assistant
- Computer Repair
- Construction Engineering
- Cosmetology Beauty
- Criminalistics and Criminal Science
- Dental Assistant
- Esthetician Skin Care
- Hair Styling & Hair Design
- LVN Degree
- Medical Assistant
- Medical Billing and Coding
- Music Management
- Pediatric Nursing
- Pharmacy Technician
- Physical Fitness
- Respiratory Therapist
- Trauma Nursing
- X Ray Technician