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  • Dr. Jacob Bonne
    June 20, 2022 4:49:16 PM EDT . 24 min read

Fast Facts: 10 Most Searched Majors by College Students in 2021


Why do students go to college? To get a better job.

In fact, 85% of incoming freshmen surveyed by the Higher Education Research Institute in 2015 said getting a better job was a top reason to enroll in college, more important even than making money. The first step collegebound students must take in their career journey is choosing a major or degree program and career exploration doesn't end there.

We took a look at our own user activity to find the most searched majors and fields of study so far in 2021. The top 10 searches by Steppingblocks college students in order of popularity are:

1. Psychology
2. Business Administration
3. Computer Science
4. Human Resources
5. Healthcare
6. Finance
7. Social Work
8. Marketing
9. Law
10. Nursing

With the exception of certain fields in science, healthcare and other hyper-focused disciplines, such as accounting, the majority of graduates end up working in fields that may not have a direct correlation with their degree. 

Take a tour of the Digital Career Counselor.

We analyzed alumni outcomes for these students based on the last 10 years of graduates (who earned a bachelors degree only) to learn how closely expectations align with reality. For each major, we analyzed average salary, common job titles and gender composition. While alumni outcomes may vary significantly by institution, this analysis paints a realistic picture of what national-level expectations could be.

Strong student success initiatives that incorporate career development and readiness programs are using alumni data to demonstrate real graduation outcomes by major. With this, students better understand opportunity for employers, job titles, skills, and educational attributes of alumni previously in their program. You can see these efforts in action at Georgia State University and University of Delaware on their career pages.

Let’s take a look at the outcomes — it’s not always what you would expect!

Download the No. 1 Ebook: What is Student Success?

1. Psychology & Counseling

"Psychology is the study of human behavior at both the individual and group level. As a psychology major, you’ll learn about the various factors that affect mental health (such as cultural and environmental factors), and about the different dynamics that can impact the psychology of a particular group," according to a definition by WayUp.

Gender distribution: 24% male and 76% female

Average salary (10-Year): $58K - $77K

Top 10 job titles for this major:

1. Therapist
2. Registered Nurse
3. School Psychologist
4. Administrative Assistant
5. Teacher
6. Graduate Student
7. Case Manager
8. School Counselor
9. Project Manager
10. Human Resources Manager

2. Business Administration

"Bachelor's degrees equip students with a strong understanding of business fundamentals, management principles, and the interpersonal skills needed to thrive in the business world," Business Administration majors as described by The Balance Careers.

Gender distribution: 47% male and 53% female

Average salary (10-Year): $76k - $115k

Top 10 job titles for this major:

1. Project Manager
2. Financial Analyst
3. Manager
4. Accountant
5. Product Manager
6. Associate
7. Vice President
8. Chief Executive Officer
9. President
10. Consultant

3. Computer Science      

"A program that focuses on computer theory, computing problems and solutions, and the design of computer systems and user interfaces from a scientific perspective. Includes instruction in the principles of computational science, computer development and programming, and applications to a variety of end-use situations," according to MyMajors.

Gender distribution: 55% male and 45% female

Average salary (10-Year): $78K - $126K

Top 10 job titles for this major:

1. Software Engineer
2. Senior Software Engineer
3. Software Developer
4. Software Development Engineer
5. Staff Software Engineer
6. Developer
7. Web Developer
8. Product Manager
9. Data Scientist
10. Engineering Manager

4. Human Resources      

"Human Resources Management and Services majors develop the skills needed to recruit, hire and maintain a strong workforce for their employers ... a human resources major provides students with tangible skills for navigating daily management challenges like employee relations along with high-level organizational ideas, concepts and principles that inform long-term decision-making," as described by U.S. News.

Gender distribution: 24% male and 76% female

Average salary (10-Year): $62K - $83K

Top 10 job titles for this major:

1. Human Resources Manager
2. Human Resources Generalist
3. Human Resources Director
4. Human Resources Consultant
5. Human Resources Specialist
6. Talent Acquisition Manager
7. Human Resources Coordinator
8. Recruiter
9. Human Resources Assistant
10. Administrative Assistant

Take a Tour: Go Behind the Scenes With Graduate Outcomes Data

5. Healthcare     

"Healthcare degrees at the bachelor’s level exist across a variety of disciplines, including nutrition, nursing, and public health. Bachelor’s degrees in healthcare often require foundational coursework in sciences like biochemistry, pathophysiology, genetics, organic chemistry, and anatomy," as defined by CollegeChoice.

Gender distribution: 26% male and 74% female

Average salary (10-Year): $69K - $87K

Top 10 job titles for this major:

1. Medical Assistant
2. Physician Assistant
3. Resident Physician
4. Registered Nurse
5. Administrative Assistant
6. Graduate Student
7. Customer Service Representative
8. Physician
9. Resident
10. Chiropractor

6. Finance          

"As a finance major, you will study how companies have performed in the past to predict how they will perform in the future, and learn how to communicate information that will drive strategic changes. Many of your assignments will be project driven, whether they be individual case studies to enhance your problem-solving ability, or group presentations to practice the way you interact with others. Typical classes in this major include accounting, economics, math and psychology," according to a guide on WayUp.

Gender distribution: 57% male and 43% female

Average salary (10-Year): $77K - $103K

Top 10 job titles for this major:

1. Financial Analyst
2. Vice President
3. Associate
4. Financial Advisor
5. Accountant
6. Manager
7. Finance Manager
8. Project Manager
9. Analyst
10. Partner

7. Social Work

"A program that prepares individuals for the professional practice of social welfare administration and counseling, and that focus on the study of organized means of providing basic support services for vulnerable individuals and groups," as described by MyMajors.

Gender distribution: 14% male and 86% female

Average salary (10-Year): $52K - $69K

Top 10 job titles for this major:

1. Social Worker
2. Therapist
3. Case Manager
4. Clinical Social Worker
5. School Social Worker
6. Licensed Clinical Social Worker
7. Medical Social Worker
8. Psychotherapist
9. Mental Health Therapist
10. Social Work Intern

8. Marketing

"A marketing major studies the branding and promotion of products and services to the public, which is targeted through specific demographics. Marketing touches many areas of study, so students will be well-versed in advertising, communications, consumer behavior, public relations, and marketing strategy and research," a U.S. News definition.

Gender distribution: 42% male and 58% female

Average salary (10-Year): $69K - $88K

Top 10 job titles for this major:

1. Marketing Manager
2. Account Manager
3. Account Executive
4. Project Manager
5. Marketing Director
6. Digital Marketing Manager
7. Business Development Manager
8. Founder
9. Manager
10. Chief Executive Officer

9. Law

"A law degree allows one to defend a person who has been accused of a crime, offering the chance to right wrongs and defend the Constitution from attacks by individuals, corporations and governments. But those ideals are only a small portion of the actual responsibilities of the profession. After earning a J.D., you can work as an attorney or as a consultant with a company that more closely represents your personal interests," from the Law Majors Guide on WorldWideLearn.

Gender distribution: 45% male and 55% female

Average salary (10-Year): $93K - $230K

Top 10 job titles for this major:

1. Attorney
2. Associate
3. Associate Attorney
4. Partner
5. Law Clerk
6. Counsel
7. Lawyer
8. Staff Attorney
9. General Counsel
10. Attorney at Law

10. Nursing

"A program that generally prepares individuals in the knowledge, techniques and procedures for promoting health, providing care for sick, disabled, infirmed, or other individuals or groups," as described by MyMajors.

Gender distribution: 17% male and 83% female

Average salary (10-Year): $61K - $85K

Top 10 job titles for this major:

1. Registered Nurse
2. Nurse Practitioner
3. Family Nurse Practitioner
4. Licensed Practical Nurse
5. Nurse Case Manager
6. Nursing Assistant
7. Staff RN
8. Intensive Care Unit Nurse
9. Certified Nurse Aide
10. Clinical Nurse

Want to analyze outcomes for your university? Get your free alumni insights report.

Click here to get a free data snapshot of your university outcomes. Steppingblocks will analyze your institutional alumni from our database of over 100 million real people in the workforce. Understand your impact to prove (and improve) the value of a degree from your university.

What is Steppingblocks for students?

Research your future career with real-world stats about your major, your interests, and your job title. Turn billions of data-points into actionable insights about your future with a few simple clicks. Watch the video to find out how.

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