How Many Different College Majors Are There?
A college major is the main area of study pursued by an undergraduate student at a college or university. Although the number of available majors varies between each college and university, you can choose from hundreds of majors available at the undergraduate level. If you're thinking of what you'd like to major in, read on to discover what options exist regarding major areas of study.
What Is an Academic Major?
A college major concentrates on a specific academic discipline and dictates what type of bachelor's degree you'll earn. Degree programs are broken down into general education requirements and core major course sequences with set numbers of electives. Common major areas of study include humanities, natural sciences, social sciences, English, education, architecture, engineering and many more.
What Is an Academic Minor?
Academic minors are sequences of core classes similar to majors, but consist of a short series of related classes that can often be completed in 1-2 semesters. Although you must select a major to complete a bachelor's degree program, a minor is optional, allowing you to further specialize your major area of study. For example, business majors may wish to add a marketing minor to complement their studies. If you're interested in an academic minor, you may need permission from advisors and department heads in order to pursue a minor on top of your major course load.
Choosing the Right College Major
The process of choosing a college major can be a difficult experience as a college freshman. Advisors often suggest pursuing a line of education that matches your interests and academic strengths; however, you usually aren't required to declare a major until the second semester of your sophomore year.
The first year of study is instead dedicated to general education courses from various disciplines, which may help you identify your strengths and interests - critical steps in deciding on a major. During the first two years of undeclared study, you can easily change your focus and explore various topics through elective courses. The last two years of study are then focused on core courses and electives in your major area of study.
The Most Popular and Best-Paying College Majors
According to the Princeton Review, the top ten college majors are business administration and management, psychology, nursing, biology, education, English, economics, communications, political science and computer science. However, the most popular majors don't necessarily correspond to the highest-paying majors, many of which are specialized sciences (www.princetonreview.com).
Payscale.com offers a report on the top ten best-paying college majors, seven of which are in engineering fields. The 2010-2011 top ten highest-paying college majors are petroleum engineering, aerospace engineering, chemical engineering, electrical engineering, nuclear engineering, applied mathematics, biomedical engineering, physics, computer engineering and economics.