10 Most Popular College Degrees

10 Most Popular College Degrees

College is all a big popularity contest…not between the students, mind you. Socially, you can do whatever you want. Nobody cares. In college, the degree programs that compete for social supremacy. Your course catalogue may not look like a high school cafeteria, but the numbers don’t lie. There is a hierarchy among college majors. Some degrees are super popular and others…well, they don’t get invited to the cool kid parties. Our apologies to Sanskrit. Your invitation was lost in translation.

If the pecking order of popular majors was a rager of epic proportions, it would be hosted by the liberal arts majors, financed by the business students, and all party supplies would be procured by a team of nursing students, psych majors, and aspiring biologists. And hey…because we’re all friends here, the Sanskrit kids are obviously welcome. But we must acknowledge that there’s a reason the degrees ranked below are so popular. Let’s find out what that reason is.

If you’re here because you’re struggling to choose the right degree path, you can jump directly to our guide on how to declare a major.

Or, to find out which degrees are the most popular and why, read on…

  1. 1

    Liberal Arts Degrees

    According to our findings, the top priority for many students is variety. When you combine all the students majoring in Liberal Arts (and it’s close cousin, General Studies), the result is the single most popular degree program, with 486,000+ college students currently declared in this area.

    What is the liberal arts major?

    The Liberal Arts major is designed to be broad in nature, giving students the opportunity to sample from a wide range of humanities, electives, and STEM courses. Liberal arts majors can typically earn this 120-credit degree in a minimum of four years, during which they’ll take courses in areas such as literature, philosophy, music, and history.

    Why is the liberal arts degree popular?

    The liberal arts degree is particularly popular because of its versatility. For those who are still considering their educational and professional options, a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts offers the opportunity to explore a wide range of subject areas while building a well-rounded set of skills and knowledge.

    What can I do with a liberal arts degree?

    By virtue of its versatility, the liberal arts degree can prepare graduates for an extremely wide range of careers in a variety of fields like marketing, business, public relations, human resources, and much more.

    Because a liberal arts degree encompasses disciplines such as humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences, students are prepared for tasks such as writing and editing, managing communications for a company, project management, and more. Many work in non-profit settings and advocate for various causes.

    How can I get a liberal arts degree?

    Most regionally accredited four-year public and private-nonprofit colleges offer liberal arts degree options both online and on-campus. To start your search, check out the Best Online Bachelor’s Degrees in Liberal Arts.

    For a comprehensive look at the schools offering an excellent general studies experience, check out the 50 Best Liberal Arts Colleges and Universities of 2021.

  2. 2

    Business Administration Degrees

    Business and business administration degrees combine to make the single most popular subject-specific major. With more than 356,000 students currently in pursuit of an undergraduate degree in this area, business courses attract the most new students every year.

    What is business administration?

    Business administration is both the theoretical and practical study of business with an emphasis on developing organizational leadership skills. This 120-credit degree program typically takes a minimum of four years to complete. Business majors will study topics such as business management, finance, or entrepreneurship. Business majors will also study practical concepts related to sales, marketing, accounting, and more.

    Why is the business administration degree popular?

    The business major is popular both for its versatility and its financial promise. Stated simply, a graduate with a business administration degree can do practically anything from project management and marketing to human resources and small business administration. Majoring in business is also a great option for students who are interested in learning about retail management, corporate citizenship, entrepreneurship, hospitality, real estate, and much more.

    What can I do with a business administration degree?

    In short, you can do whatever you want with a business administration major, whether you wish to start your own business, take on a management role in the hospitality industry, provide consultation for a Fortune 500 company, and much more. A business degree can lead to a wide range of career opportunities for aspiring Accountants and Auditors , Human Resources Specialists, Personal Financial Advisors, and more.

    Many people with a degree in business administration perform tasks such as strategic planning, customer relationship management, data analysis, and leadership and team management. They are also involved in making sure all compliance and legal issues are taken care of, helping with projects and operations, and overseeing sales strategies.

    How can I get a business administration degree?

    Most regionally accredited four-year public and private-nonprofit colleges offer business degree options both online and on-campus. To start your search, check out the Check out the Best Online Bachelor’s Degrees in Business Administration.

  3. 3

    Registered Nursing Degrees

    Nursing is one of the most popular degree programs, with more than 251,000 students majoring to become registered nurses (RN) today. This is obviously great news because there is a steady and high demand for compassionate and qualified healthcare professionals in all areas of the sprawling healthcare sector.

    What is nursing?

    Nursing is an extremely diverse profession in the healthcare field. Because nurses provide treatment, therapy, care, and support in a wide range of settings from emergency rooms and physicians’ offices to public health clinics and urgent care facilities, the demands placed upon registered nurses can be highly varied. The nursing major helps students develop and refine practical treatment skills while honing in on an area of concentration.

    Why is the nursing degree popular?

    The nursing degree is popular both because nurses are in high demand in a wide range of healthcare settings and because the academic discipline provides a valuable set of professional skills. As a nursing major, you’ll study ethical practice, theories of treatment, and an array of practical medical skills. You’ll also learn critical thinking and strategic decison making, and you’ll learn how to use these skills to make consequential care and treatment decisions in real time.

    What can I do with a nursing degree?

    Majoring in nursing can lead you into a wide variety of healthcare settings, and into any number of areas in clinical treatment, healthcare administration, or research. You have numerous options, and your degree program can help you focus on the path that feels most suited to your skills and interests. Depending on one’s level of education and concentration, a nursing major can lead to roles for Registered Nurse, Nurse Anesthetists, Nurse Midwives, and Nurse Practitioners, Medical and Health Services Managers, and more.

    Nursing is a versatile field with many subfields to choose from. However, almost all nurses play roles in patient care by assessing and monitoring conditions, developing care plans, and educating patients. Nurses collaborate with other members of the healthcare team, make sure all documentation is properly filled out, and comply with healthcare regulations.

    How can I get a nursing degree?

    There are a wide range of educational pathways to a career in nursing, including both associate and bachelor’s degree programs and professional certification programs. To learn more, find out How to Major in Nursing.

  4. 4

    Psychology Degrees

    With more than 130,000 students currently declared as majors in this field, psychology is among the most popular college degree programs. This extremely versatile degree offers an array of professional opportunities both in the field of psychology and in a wide range of other fields.

    What is psychology?

    Psychology is the study of the mind. As a psychology major, you’ll study human development, cognition, and behavior. You’ll learn skills like counseling, behavioral therapy, and clinical treatment for mental health disorders.

    Why is the psychology degree popular?

    The psychology degree is popular both because of its versatility and because of the demand for qualified professionals in areas such as therapy, counseling, and mental health support. Naturally, psychology is the preferred major for those planning to become clinical psychologists, though advanced degrees are required for this pursuit. But the psychology degree can also open a number of other professional doors, with undergraduates in psychology qualifying to work in contexts such as business, education, law enforcement, and much more.

    What can I do with a psychology degree?

    A bachelor’s degree in psychology degree can either lead directly into an array of jobs or serve as the first step on the way to a graduate degree in psychology. Professional opportunities in the psychology profession are directly connected to your academic credentials. In most cases, those who plan to become clinical psychologists must earn a doctorate in psychology as well as proper state licensure. However, students who graduate with a four-year degree in psychology can typically work as school counselors, special educators, addiction specialists, criminologists, and much more.

    Psychology is a degree where level of education matters greatly. Those with a bachelor’s degree will not be prepared for some of the jobs that graduate degree holders could have, but a bachelor’s degree is a great stepping stone in that direction. Many people pursuing a degree in psychology will work with research and data analysis. They will also provide mental health support to clients and manage cases in clinical or counseling settings. Behavioral and crisis intervention is another large role people will degrees in psychology will play.

    How can I get a psychology degree?

    Most regionally accredited four-year public and private-nonprofit colleges offer psychology degree options both online and on-campus. To start your search, check out the Best Online Bachelor’s in Psychology Degrees.

  5. 5

    Biology Degrees

    Biology wins the prize for most popular science major. With more than 89,000 students currently declared in this area, biology attracts the largest number of undergraduates among the life sciences.

    What is biology?

    Biology is the study of life and living organisms. The biology discipline covers a number of interrelated life sciences including chemistry, epidemiology, ecology, and more. Biology majors will take courses in areas like genetics, biostatistics, anatomy, and evolution.

    Why is the biology degree popular?

    Biology is a popular major because students learn concepts that are applicable to a wide range of fields and career paths, whether you plan to study humans, animals, plants, insects, microscopic cells, or even explore the possibility of life on other planets. In other words, biology is a great pathway into the life sciences because it touches on so many different and overlapping areas of study. This means biology is a particularly strong entry point for those with an interest in the life sciences and a desire to explore the multitude of subfields within.

    What can I do with a biology degree?

    Biology majors typically have a lot of career options, though the academic credentials required for each role can be highly variable. Be sure that you understand the degree requirements for your chosen career path. In most areas of science, you must pursue post-graduate credentials in order to conduct research, provide post-secondary instruction, or identify as a scientist. That said, an undergraduate degree in biology is an excellent starting point on your way to graduate school and beyond. The bachelor’s degree in biology is a common first degree for those who will ultimately become Pharmacists, Zoologists and Wildlife Biologists, Environmental Scientists and Specialists, and more.

    Many people with a degree in biology will go on to conduct research, perform laboratory work, and analyze data. Many go on to be educators in their field and supervise fieldwork and trials. Some even conduct forensic analysis or create new policies to promote public health.

    How can I get a biology degree?

    Most regionally accredited four-year public and private-nonprofit colleges offer biology degree options both online and on-campus. To start your search, find out How to Major in Biology.

  6. 6

    Accounting Degrees

    Accounting is an extremely popular major, drawing candidates with an interest in both numbers and business strategy. More than 79,000 students are currently in pursuit of a bachelor’s degree in accounting, a field where demand is high and job growth is steady.

    What is accounting?

    Accounting is a field at the intersection of business and finance, where professional accountants and auditors maintain, prepare, and examine financial records as well as produce financial reporting, disclosure, tax forms, and more. Accounting majors learn the practical skills, ethical parameters, and theoretical concepts grounding the professional practice of accounting.

    Why is the accounting degree popular?

    One reason the accounting degree is so popular is because it leads to an array of very well-paying jobs. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the number of accounting jobs on the market is expected to grow by 7% between now and 2030. This means that the accounting industry will add more than 96,000 jobs over the next decade. And the BLS reports that the median pay for accountants and auditors was a robust $73,560 in 2020.

    What can I do with an accounting degree?

    As an accounting major, you’ll graduate in a strong position to land a well-paying job with excellent long-term security, whether you’re interested in becoming a public accountant or earning your state license and becoming a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). And as an accounting major, you can work in an extremely wide range of professional contexts. Organizations of every shape and size require accountants, auditors, financial consultants, and/or financial officers. In addition to becoming Accountants and Auditors, accounting majors will qualify to work as Bookkeeping, Accounting, and Auditing Clerks, Financial Managers, Insurance Underwriters, and more.

    Many accounting majors go on to help with the financial health and compliance of businesses and organizations. They do this by recording financial transactions, auditing financial records and statements, and developing budgets and financial forecasts. They also tend to work with compliance related issues to ensure that a company is following the laws and regulations set in place.

    How can I get an accounting degree?

    Most regionally accredited four-year public and private-nonprofit colleges offer accounting degree options both online and on-campus. To start your search, check out the Best Online Bachelor’s in Accounting Degrees.

    For a more comprehensive look at this popular degree program, find out How to Major in Accounting.

  7. 7

    Medical Degrees

    The medical field is an extremely broad area of study that encompasses both pre-medical degrees for aspiring physicians and medical studies programs for those who will perform in a wide range of supporting roles in healthcare. There are presently more than 60,000 students enrolled in medical majors.

    What is medicine?

    Medicine is a huge field composed of many specializations, and a wide spectrum of jobs, each demanding its own unique academic credentials and licensing requirements. Medicine is a great path of study for students with an interest in the human body, how it works, and how we can use various treatments and therapeutics to relieve suffering, pain, and sickness.

    Why is the medical degree popular?

    The primary reason for the popularity of the medical degree is the access it provides to an wide range of professional possibilities. Certainly, this is an obvious starting point for those who, upon graduation, will seek admission into medical school, and consequently pursue a license to practice medicine. However, the steady growth of the healthcare industry and the widening spectrum of specializations within denotes a continued growth in job opportunities as well. To this end, the Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts that the field will grow by 16%, adding about 2.6 million jobs between now and 2030.

    What can I do with an undergraduate medical degree?

    A bachelor’s degree in medicine can be the first step toward a wide range of healthcare professions. What you do with a major in medicine depends on your area of focus, and level of degree completion. It’s possible to enter the field as a technician with as little as a certificate, or you can spend more than a decade working toward a medical doctorate. Medicine majors can pursue careers as Surgical Technologists, Physicians Assistants, Physical Therapists, Phlebotomists, Pharmacists, Genetic Counselors, Dieticians and Nutritionists, Epidemiologists, and much more.

    Individuals with a medical degree tend, believe it or not, to enter the medical field. This means that they will be involved in tasks such as patient diagnosis, treatment planning, and patient care. The level of patient care workers are able to give differs depending on level of education. Those with bachelor’s degrees will be able to perform tasks such as interpreting diagnostic tests and providing emergency care. For those with doctorates in medicine, they could go on perform surgery and medical procedures.

    How can I get a medical degree?

    Most regionally accredited four-year public and private-nonprofit colleges offer an array of medical degree options both online and on-campus. To start your search, find out How to Major in Medicine.

  8. 8

    Social Work Degrees

    Social Work is growing in popularity as Americans face an increasingly complex array of challenges in their regions, communities, families, and everyday lives. With more than 56,000 students currently majoring in social work, this field represents tremendous opportunity for positive outreach, intervention, and assistance.

    What is social work?

    Social work is the administration of social services, distribution of resources for social welfare, and public outreach to vulnerable groups, as well as intervention for those facing mental health crises, abuse, addiction, family dysfunction, and more. Social workers employ methods like outreach, therapeutic intervention, and policy development to help improve the lives of vulnerable and at-risk individuals.

    Why is the social work degree popular?

    One reason social work is an increasingly popular degree program is that the need has never been greater for those with the right credentials, skills, and temperament. So many vulnerable Americans are facing unprecedented practical, economic, and mental health challenges today. This is perhaps why, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the number of social work jobs is expected to grow at a remarkable rate of 12% by 2030, adding 89,200 new jobs during that time.

    What can I do with a social work degree?

    The high-growth field of social work offers a wide range of professional opportunities. Social work majors typically find opportunities as Social Workers, Social and Human Service Assistants, Health Educators and Community Health Workers, Marriage and Family Therapists, School and Career Counselors, and much more.

    Social work degree holders tend to work closely with people. They are in charge of tasks such as case management, policy development and analysis, and community outreach and engagement. Because social workers work closely with people, they are in charge of accurate documentation, collaborating with other professionals, and advocating for those who need it.

    How can I get a social work degree?

    Most regionally accredited four-year public and private-nonprofit colleges offer social work degree options both online and on-campus. To start your search, check out the Best Online Bachelor’s in Social Work.

  9. 9

    Finance Degrees

    Business administration may be the most popular subject-specific major, but this leading sub-discipline also registers a pretty strong presence on campus. With more than 51,000 undergraduates, finance is a popular bachelor’s degree in its own right.

    What is finance?

    Finance is the subfield dealing with financial analysis, investment banking, stock trading, currencies, and more. As a finance major, you’ll study the concepts of saving, investing, lending and borrowing, corporate law, business ethics, and more. Students who major in finance will develop the skills to perform in a wide range of roles in money management, financial consultation, and brokering. Many students with degrees in finance may also qualify to pursue opportunities in business leadership and entrepreneurship.

    Why is the finance degree popular?

    The finance degree is popular largely because of the universal need for financial consulting, analysis, and forecasting. Finance experts are required in every sector of the economy from large corporations to small municipalities, from non-profit groups to federal government agencies. Finance professionals are employed in all kinds of advisory, consultation, and leadership roles, making key decisions about how money should be handled in a great many contexts. This means that numerous employment opportunities are available to finance majors.

    What can I do with a finance degree?

    Finance majors occupy a diverse array of jobs in both the public and private sectors, including roles as Financial Managers, Compensation and Benefits Managers, Human Resources Managers, Personal Financial Advisors, Financial Analysts, Budget Analysts, and much more.

    Many people with a degree in finance work closely with the financial management and strategy of a business or organization. They can use their knowledge to advise on investment management, corporate finance, and market analysis. They are also able to provide financial planning and valuation services to individuals and businesses.

    How can I get a finance degree?

    Most regionally accredited four-year public and private-nonprofit colleges offer finance degree options both online and on-campus. To start your search, check out the Best Online Bachelor’s in Finance.

    For a comprehensive look at the bachelor’s degree in finance, find out How to Major in Finance.

  10. 10

    Marketing Degrees

    Marketing is all around us, from social media pop-ups and streaming service sponsors to highway billboards and the logos splashed everywhere at a professional sporting event. With more than 49,000 students majoring in marketing today, it’s no wonder promotional content seems to be everywhere you look.

    What is marketing?

    Marketing is the field dealing with promotions, branding, and sales, as well as closely-related subjects such as communications, project management, and business administration. Marketing professionals will also have a strong grasp on economics, consumer trends, and even human psychology. Students who major in marketing have access to a wide variety of career paths in virtually limitless business sectors and media.

    Why is the marketing degree popular?

    The marketing degree is popular because it can lead to a very wide range of colorful careers in business, advertising, public relations, and more. In addition to gaining opportunities in nearly every field, marketing majors are in high demand. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), jobs for Advertising, Promotions, and Marketing Managers are projected to grow at a rate of 10% by 2030. Compensation reflects that demand as well. The BLS reports that, in 2020, the median pay for jobs in this sector was a healthy $141,490.

    What can I do with a marketing degree?

    Marketing majors have opportunities in every area of business. And because marketing occurs across various physical and digital media, bachelors in marketing have the chance to specialize in many different areas, with majors most often finding success as Advertising, Promotion, and Marketing Managers, Market Research Analysts and Market Specialists, Public Relations Specialists, Advertising Sales Agents, and more.

    Marketing professionals engage in tasks such as market research, brand management, advertising, and content creation. Anything that promotes a brand and makes it more appealing to customers, marketers perform. They can also help organize and create promotional events, manage public relations efforts, and analyze market data to create more effective strategies.

    How can I get a marketing degree?

    Most regionally accredited four-year public and private-nonprofit colleges offer marketing degree options both online and on-campus. To start your search, check out the Best Online Bachelor’s in Marketing and Advertising.

    For a comprehensive look at this discipline, find out How to Major in Marketing.

By the way, there’s no rule that says you have to declare a major right away (except at schools where there is an actual rule that says you have to declare a major right away). But that’s not true of every school, or even most. So if you’re undecided, we’ve got a few tips for undeclared students that might help you on your way.

Get tips for adjusting to campus life, making the transition to online education, and so much more with a look at our Student Blog.

We also offer comprehensive Career Guidance for students at every stage in the educational journey.

Or get tips on studying, student life, and much more with a look at our Student Resources.

Student Submitted Questions about the Most Popular College Degrees

We discussed the topic of popular college degrees with current college students to see what questions they had. Below you’ll find these questions and our answers to them provided by our editor, Chloe Dembski. If you have questions of your own, you can submit your question using the form below and we’ll answer it right here in this article!

Luca asked, “What is the hardest major?”

This question is pretty subjective, considering that students vary in their strengths, interests, and skills. However, engineering, the physical sciences, computer science, and mathematics are commonly reported as being challenging in regards to coursework, workload, and subject complexity.

Mazin asked, “What is the least popular major?”

Least popular majors vary by region and can be impacted by changing job markets and student interests. However, the majors with the fewest enrollees include classics and ancient studies, philosophy and religious studies, comparative literature, fine arts and art history, and music theory and composition. The fact that these majors are the least popular doesn’t mean that they do not have value or that career opportunities aren’t available. Typically, it just means that they provide specialized skills valuable to certain career paths.

Kat asked, “What is the most useful major?”

This is another question that is extremely dependent on one’s career goals. However, there are certain majors that tend to keep up with job market demand, have broad applicability, and a potential for financial stability. As of 2023, current marketable majors include computer science and information technology, engineering, healthcare and nursing, business, and biotechnology.

Keep in mind that the job market is constantly shifting and while financial stability is great, it’s also important to know what your strengths and passions are. If you hate math, maybe computer science wouldn’t be the best fit for you. Try to find the balance between being pragmatic and finding something you are passionate about.

Do you have a question about this topic? Ask it here