Business on top of popular college majors


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What's your major?

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of possible answers to that question.

Students can choose from majors as common as business or as unusual as blacksmithing.

This report takes a look at popular majors -- business, education, nursing and liberal arts -- as well unusual ones. It also looks at vocational, career and technical options.

You'll find advice on how to choose a major and when to go to graduate school.

And you'll learn the majors completed in college by some locally and nationally notable people.

According to federal statistics, the most bachelor's degrees nationwide are conferred in the field of business, nearly twice as many as in the next closest field, social sciences and history. Education comes in third.

At the master's level, education ranks first, followed by business. At the doctoral level, education is first, followed by engineering; health professions and related clinical science; biological and biomedical science; and psychology.

The Princeton Review lists the 10 most popular college majors compiled from a survey of administrators at more than 1,300 colleges who named their schools' three most popular majors based on enrollment.

The Princeton Review ranks them this way:

• Business administration/management;

• Psychology;

• Nursing, registered nurse training;

• Biology/biological sciences;

• Education;

• English language and literature;

• Economics;

• Communications/speech/rhetoric;

• Political science/government;

• Computer and information sciences.

Robert Franek, Princeton Review's vice president and publisher, noted some of those majors, such as business, have practical applications that make them attractive. Even in liberal arts majors, he said, students are aware of the applications.

Some of the top majors are professional programs, such as nursing and education. Others can be stepping stones to professional schools, such as biology as a prelude to medical school, he said.

Many students don't have a major when they start, or change it after they've started.

Not to worry.

"After a few years of taking some different types of study, they'll likely find something they're interested in," Mr. Franek said.

Internet Resources
Web sites with more information about college majors:
  • nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator -- Federal government site with information on schools awarding certificates, associate degrees, bachelor's degrees or advanced degrees. Can search schools by major.
  • collegeboard.com -- Provides college searches by major. Students who took PSAT/NMSQT exam can use MyRoad for free, which includes a personality test and suggests careers and majors.
  • act.org -- Student portion has descriptions of careers and majors.
  • princetonreview.com -- Offers profiles of more than 200 majors. Also can match majors with colleges on Counselor-O-Matic.
  • petersons.com -- Offers major and college matching for both undergraduate and graduate education.
  • educationplanner.org -- Offers a personality test to help choose careers. Site operated by the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency.
  • mappingyourfuture.org -- Includes career profiles and advice. Aimed at middle and high school students. Site sponsored by student loan guaranty agencies and others.
  • buildersguild.org -- Offers information on training and careers for trades. Site of the Builders Guild of Western Pennsylvania.

Education writer Eleanor Chute can be reached at echute@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1955.


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