Top 12 Degrees That Are In Demand (2024)

The best degrees you can acquire
Updated:
April 17, 2024
8 min read
Contents

”Rohan

Reviewed by:

Former Admissions Committee Member, Columbia University

Reviewed: 4/3/24

If you are looking to study something that will lead to a lucrative career, look no further! Read on to learn about what makes these top 12 degrees so popular. We’ll also give you a rundown of the type of job prospects you might have after graduating. 

When the area of study you want to focus on in college, it is important to look at degrees that are in demand. These degrees might have more competition, meaning you’ll have to work extra hard for admittance.

In this article, we will outline the 12 degrees that are in high demand, why students flock to them and answer a few frequently asked questions. 

Let's get started!

12 Degrees That Are In High Demand

Before choosing an educational path, it’s always a good idea to consider job availability and need. Also, remember that the best degree to get depends on your interests, career goals, and the field that aligns with your passions and strengths. Now, let’s get into our list of college degrees in demand. 

Degree Median Salary Best Careers Top-5 Universities for the Degree
Engineering $87,098 Biomedical Engineer
Civil Engineers
Electrical Engineers
Environmental Engineer
Software Engineer
MIT
Stanford
University of California, Berkeley
California Institute of Technology
Carnegie Mellon University
Applied Mathematics $102,000 Meteorologist
Mathematics teacher
Purchasing agent
Accountant
Budget analyst
Stanford University
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
Princeton University
Harvard University
University of California Berkeley
Computer Science $109,305 IT technician
Database administrator
IT analyst
Systems analyst
Web developer
Carnegie Mellon University
Georgia Institute of Technology
University of California, Berkeley
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
Hospitality $57,716 Hotel Manager
Food Service Manager
Casino Director
Sales Manager
Executive Chef
Cornell University
Michigan State University
University of Massachusetts Amherst
Virginia Polytechnic and State University
University of Houston

Degree Median Salary Best Careers Top-5 Universities for the Degree
Business Management $87,213 Community Manager
Client Services Manager
Office Manager
Marketing Manager
Logistics Manager
University of Michigan--Ann Arbor
University of Pennsylvania
University of California, Berkeley
University of Texas at Austin
Indiana University--Bloomington
Nursing $70,362 Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA)
Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner (AGNP)
Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM)
Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP)
Women's Health Nurse Practitioner (WHNP)
University of Pennsylvania
Johns Hopkins University
Duke University
Emory University
University of Rochester
Education $100,850 Sports Coach
Health Educator
Teacher Assistant
Preschool Teacher
Elementary School Teacher
University of California, Berkeley
Stanford University
Harvard University
University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
University of California, Los Angeles
Finance $99,320 Portfolio Manager
Corporate Finance Manager
Investment Banker
Trader
Economic Analyst
University of Pennsylvania
New York University
University of Michigan--Ann Arbor
University of Texas at Austin
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Degree Median Salary Best Careers Top-5 Universities for the Degree
Construction Managers $118,500 Field Engineer
Construction Superintendent
Sustainability Consultant
Construction Manager
Construction Project Manager
University of Southern California
Columbia University in the City of New York
Virginia Tech
Wentworth Institute of Technology
California Polytechnic State University - San Luis Obispo
Information Technology $135,232 Quality Assurance Tester
IT Technician
Database Administrator
Network Administrator
Computer Programmer
Carnegie Mellon University
Cornell University
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Penn State
Hallmark University
Pharmaceutical Science $57,570 Patient Attorney
Supply Chain Manager
Regulatory Specialist
Laboratory Technician
Chemical Engineer
University of Southern California
University of Maryland - Baltimore
Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center
Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences
The University of Tennessee - Health Science Center
Architecture $102,464 Architectural Technician
Architectural Drafter
Architectural Designer
Architectural Historian
Urban Planner
Cornell University
Rice University
Washington University in St. Louis
Boston Architectural College
Southern California Institute of Architecture

1. Engineering

Engineering is a high-demand field, offering some of the most promising career opportunities. Engineering can be broken down into many different specializations, with the original four being civil, mechanical, chemical, and electrical. 

These four branches of engineering have been broken down even more to include such things as biomedical engineering, aerospace engineering and computer hardware engineering.

When it comes to engineering, Ivy League schools can provide an edge with exceptional programs and resources. If you're aiming to excel in this field and access top-notch education and networking opportunities, consider exploring Ivy League options.

Between 2022 and 2032, jobs in architecture and engineering are expected to grow faster than the average across all occupations. On average, there will be approximately 188,000 job openings each year in these fields. Keep in mind, though, that each specialization has its own specific growth projection. 

Chemical engineering, for example, is projected to have 8% growth in the next decade, which makes chemical engineering one of the most in-demand majors.

Salaries among engineers are also high, with a median annual wage of $87,098. Again, depending on which specialization you choose, you could make over $100,000 a year, which makes engineering one of the degrees that are in demand. 

In terms of careers, there is a wide variety of options for engineers as their skills are in high demand. Some of the most popular career choices are aerospace engineering, biomedical engineering, environmental engineering and computer hardware engineering. 

With the amount of choice in terms of career path, it is no wonder why engineering is one of the college degrees that are in demand.

Top 5 Schools for Engineering

  • MIT
  • Stanford
  • University of California, Berkeley
  • California Institute of Technology
  • Carnegie Mellon University

Best Careers for Engineering

  • Biomedical Engineer
  • Civil Engineers
  • Electrical Engineers
  • Environmental Engineer
  • Software Engineer

Top states with the Highest Salaries in Engineering

  • California
  • Texas
  • Washington
  • Massachusetts
  • New York

2. Applied Mathematics

Applied mathematics majors will study advanced arithmetic courses, which will assist them in gaining entry into careers such as actuaries, data scientists, statisticians, and operation research analysts. 

These career choices are very popular and are projected to grow by 30% in the next decade. According to the BLS, there will be 33,500 jobs in the mathematics sector per year for the next ten years. This type of growth means that students who study applied mathematics will be able to use their degree in numerous avenues.

Another reason that applied mathematics is a degree that is in demand is the high salary associated with their jobs. The average wage for applied mathematicians is around $102,000. With such a high average salary, taking applied mathematics as a major could be a very lucrative decision.

Top 5 Schools for Mathematics

  • Stanford University
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
  • Princeton University
  • Harvard University
  • University of California Berkeley

Best Careers for Mathematics

  • Meteorologist
  • Mathematics teacher
  • Purchasing agent
  • Accountant
  • Budget analyst

Top states with the Highest Salaries in Applied Mathematics

  • New York
  • California
  • Massachusetts
  • Virginia
  • Washington

3. Computer Science

Another one of the degrees that are in high demand is computer science. Computer science incorporates subjects such as software development, web development, AI engineering and more, allowing students to work in many different positions within the technology industry.

Job growth within this industry definitely draws students to this high-demand major. According to the BLS, we can expect to see 23% growth over the next ten years. This means that if you are able to take this degree that is in high demand, you are very likely to get a job once you graduate.

Not only will you be able to get a job, but the job you get will also be very well-paid. The median annual wage for computer science degree holders is $109,305 per year, which puts this degree in high demand among college students.

There are a lot of options for students with a computer major degree, as they are able to use their skills to work as software developers, video game developers or computer programmers. These are just some of the options, which is why computer science is a high-demand degree program.

Top 5 Schools for Computer Science

  • Carnegie Mellon University
  • Georgia Institute of Technology
  • University of California, Berkeley
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

Best Careers for Computer Science

  • IT technician
  • Database administrator
  • IT analyst
  • Systems analyst
  • Web developer

Top states with the Highest Salaries in Computer Science

  • Washington
  • California
  • New York
  • Massachusetts
  • Virginia

4. Hospitality

Due to the popularity of travel and tourism, one of the degrees that are in high demand is hospitality. Hospitality or hotel and restaurant management is a very popular industry where students will learn about how to run a business smoothly while keeping it profitable.

Seven out of the top 20 fastest-growing industries belong to the leisure and hospitality sector, meaning students graduating from this major would be able to find a job relatively easily. Approximately 23.1 percent of all projected new jobs are anticipated to be within the leisure and hospitality industry, which is another reason why this college degree is in demand. 

The median US salary for those in the hospitality industry is $57,716. For students who want to have a good income right after college, hospitality is a great major to choose. 

With a hospitality degree, you can work in hotel management, event space management or dining facilities. With this amount of choice in career, it is clear why hospitality is a high-demand degree.

Top 5 Schools for Hospitality

  • Cornell University
  • Michigan State University
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst
  • Virginia Polytechnic and State University
  • University of Houston

Best Careers for Hospitality

  • Hotel Manager
  • Food Service Manager
  • Casino Director
  • Sales Manager
  • Executive Chef

Top states with the Highest Salaries in Hospitality

  • Hawaii
  • District of Columbia
  • Nevada
  • New York
  • Massachusetts

5. Business Management

Business management is a degree that's in high demand. Business management courses teach students to establish plans and policies for an organization as well as oversee people, products, and services. 

There are a lot of career opportunities for people who get a business management degree, as they can get a management position for any type of business.

One reason this degree is in high demand is that there is good job growth. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there is a projected growth in the industry of 8%, which translates to around 1.1 million new jobs this coming decade. 

This means that people with a business management degree will be able to find a job after graduating, which is what differentiates degrees that are in demand from those that are not.

Another good reason for this degree to be in high demand is that salary rates are high. Business management's median average wage is $87,213 in 2024. Having a high salary right after school can drive more interest in a subject, and business management degrees are in demand due to this association. 

Some examples of careers that can be entered after obtaining a degree in business management are facility manager, marketing manager or office manager.

Top 5 Schools for Business Management

  • University of Michigan--Ann Arbor
  • University of Pennsylvania
  • University of California, Berkeley
  • University of Texas at Austin
  • Indiana University--Bloomington

Best Careers for Business Management

  • Community Manager
  • Client Services Manager
  • Office Manager
  • Marketing Manager
  • Logistics Manager

Top states with the Highest Salaries in Business Management

  • New York
  • California
  • Massachusetts
  • Illinois
  • Texas

6. Nursing (Registered Nurse)

Nursing is one of the degrees that are in high demand in 2024. Becoming a registered nurse requires students to learn how to care for patients in different healthcare facilities. Registered nurses need to successfully complete a bachelor’s degree in nursing and pass their licensing exams.

Nursing is projected to grow by 6% in the next ten years, with about 193,100 job openings within that same time period. Those wishing to become a nurse in the next few years will be making around $70,362 per year, which is the median wage in 2024. 

Having a lot of job opportunities and good income is why nursing has become one of the degrees that are in demand in colleges around the country.

Nurses have a lot of options in where they work, which is another reason the degree is in high demand. Nurses can work in hospitals, doctor offices, health clinics, home health care or long-term care facilities. Nurses are often able to choose what type of nursing they find the most interesting, making their career very fulfilling.

Top 5 Schools for Nursing

  • University of Pennsylvania
  • Johns Hopkins University
  • Duke University
  • Emory University
  • University of Rochester

Best Careers for Nursing

  • Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA)
  • Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner (AGNP)
  • Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM)
  • Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP)
  • Women's Health Nurse Practitioner (WHNP)

Top states with the Highest Salaries in Nursing

  • California
  • Hawaii
  • Massachusetts
  • Oregon
  • Alaska

7. Education

Education degrees are in high demand because there is a lot of need for teachers. In order to become a teacher, students learn about the developmental goals of children and classroom management. 

When getting a degree in education, you can pick the age you feel most comfortable teaching and learn how to teach lessons that are appropriate for that age group.

On average, there are approximately 67,100 projected annual job openings for high school teachers over the course of a decade. Teachers also make a decent wage, with the median average salary for elementary teachers being $64,955 and university professors being $100,850. 

With good job prospects and good salaries, it is no surprise why education is one of the degrees in high demand.   

Top 5 Schools for Education

  • University of California, Berkeley
  • Stanford University
  • Harvard University
  • University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
  • University of California, Los Angeles

Best Careers for Education

  • Sports Coach
  • Health Educator
  • Teacher Assistant
  • Preschool Teacher
  • Elementary School Teacher

Top states with the Highest Salaries in Education

  • New York
  • California
  • Massachusetts
  • Connecticut
  • New Jersey

8. Finance

Finance is another degree that is in demand in 2024. Studying finance will train students to be involved in the day-to-day financial activities of a business, such as accounting or budgets. Career options for those with a finance degree are numerous and include such things as a financial advisor, accountant, and financial analyst. 

Those wanting to get a degree in finance will have to decide on a specific area to study and possibly get registered. For example, if you want to be an accountant, you have to get a Bachelor’s degree in accounting and then pass a licensing exam to become a Certified Public Accountant (CPA).

Job growth in this sector is steady, with a projected 8% growth in the next decade, which would be about 911,400 new jobs. The amount of jobs makes finance one of the degrees that are in demand in 2024. Those in this sector make an average salary of $99,320 per year, though it’s worth noting this category is quite broad. 

Top 5 Schools for Finance

  • University of Pennsylvania
  • New York University
  • University of Michigan--Ann Arbor
  • University of Texas at Austin
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Best Careers for Finance

  • Portfolio Manager
  • Corporate Finance Manager
  • Investment Banker
  • Trader
  • Economic Analyst

Top states with the Highest Salaries in Finance

  • New York
  • California
  • Connecticut
  • Massachusetts
  • New Jersey

9. Construction Managers

Though you could become a construction manager without going to college, for people who would like to work for larger construction firms, a bachelor’s degree in construction management is needed. 

With construction being in high demand, it shouldn’t be a surprise that having a construction manager degree is also in demand. Jobs in the construction industry are growing at a rate of 5%, and with salaries averaging around $118,500, it is easy to see why these degrees are in high demand.

With a degree in construction management, you have a lot of choices of career paths. You can work as a private construction manager, working as an independent contractor, or working with a large construction firm working on large projects. 

The various career options make construction management an in-demand College degree which could be very lucrative.

Top 5 Schools for Construction Management

  • University of Southern California
  • Columbia University in the City of New York
  • Virginia Tech
  • Wentworth Institute of Technology
  • California Polytechnic State University - San Luis Obispo

Best Careers for Construction Management

  • Field Engineer
  • Construction Superintendent
  • Sustainability Consultant
  • Construction Manager
  • Construction Project Manager

Top states with the Highest Salaries in Construction Management

  • New Jersey
  • Alaska
  • New York
  • California
  • Rhode Island

10. Information Technology

A degree in information technology can prepare a student for careers in computer support systems, network administration and information security analysis. Nowadays, almost every business needs someone with the type of expertise that these workers have, which is why IT is one of the degrees in demand.

Job growth in IT is projected to be around 23% in the next ten years, meaning there will continue to be a lot of jobs for new graduates. The BLS predicts that from now until 2031, there will be around 377,500 new positions each year.

Those who earn a degree in IT also earn high salaries. The average wage for IT support managers is $135,232 per year. Having a high salary right out of college can be a huge draw to students and is one of the reasons this degree is in high demand.

Top 5 Schools for Information Technology

  • Carnegie Mellon University
  • Cornell University
  • University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
  • Penn State
  • Hallmark University

Best Careers for Information Technology

  • Quality Assurance Tester
  • IT Technician
  • Database Administrator
  • Network Administrator
  • Computer Programmer

Top states with the Highest Salaries in Information Technology

  • California
  • Washington
  • New York
  • Massachusetts
  • Virginia

11. Pharmaceutical Science

Students who get a degree in pharmaceutical science can go on to work in drug research, testing, development, sales, and more. These are all degrees that are in demand as they lead to steady jobs with good salaries.

With a pharmaceutical science degree, you can become a clinical research associate, lab technician, pharmaceutical representative, and so much more. Because the range is so wide, it’s challenging to narrow down salary expectations. However, in general, the typical salary for a Pharmaceutical Scientist is $57,570.

However, lab technicians and similar positions are steadily growing at rates of around 5%, which should continue over the next decade. 

Top 5 Schools for Pharmaceutical Science

  • University of Southern California
  • University of Maryland - Baltimore
  • Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center
  • Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences
  • The University of Tennessee - Health Science Center

Best Careers for Pharmaceutical Science

  • Patient Attorney
  • Supply Chain Manager
  • Regulatory Specialist
  • Laboratory Technician
  • Chemical Engineer

Top states with the Highest Salaries in Pharmaceutical Scienc

  • California
  • New Jersey
  • Massachusetts
  • Connecticut
  • Illinois

12. Architecture

Architecture is another degree that’s in high demand. In this program, students learn how to plan and design buildings, including houses, factories, or condo buildings. 

An architecture degree typically requires at least four years of schooling and a paid internship, and graduates must pass a licensing exam before they can become professionals. 

One of the reasons architecture is one of the degrees that are in high demand is that they have consistent job growth. The BLS projects that there will be about 6,000 new jobs in the architecture sector before 2031. 

Students looking for a job once they graduate will also be happy to know that the average median wage for architects is $102,464 per year, which is fairly high.

Also, there is a wide range of opportunities for architects once they have finished their schooling. Depending on their interests, they can work on designing homes, buildings or urban landscapes. With all the different opportunities for architects, it makes sense that this is one of the College degrees that are in demand.

When looking at the above degrees that are in high demand, we see that industries that have the most growth or high salaries seem to be popular. 

Top 5 Schools for Architecture

  • Cornell University
  • Rice University
  • Washington University in St. Louis
  • Boston Architectural College
  • Southern California Institute of Architecture

Best Careers for Architecture

  • Architectural Technician
  • Architectural Drafter
  • Architectural Designer
  • Architectural Historian
  • Urban Planner

Top states with the Highest Salaries in Architecture

  • Washington
  • New York
  • Massachusetts
  • California
  • Texas

Best Tips on How to Choose College Major

To pick the perfect college major, start by understanding yourself and your goals. Explore different majors, talk to professors, and consider job prospects and costs. Get involved in activities related to your interests, and don't be afraid to seek advice from family, friends, and advisors to address your college application needs.

Let’s take a look at each of these tips. 

  • Self-reflect: Take the time to understand your strengths, weaknesses, values, personality, and interests. Reflect on past experiences to identify potential areas of interest.
  • Research Majors: Explore different majors that interest you, including their requirements, job prospects, and alumni network. Compare programs, campus culture, and location of different colleges and universities.
  • Set Goals: Create a list of goals you hope to accomplish and relate them to specific fields you might be interested in pursuing after college.
  • Meet With Professors: Schedule meetings with professors to learn about the field, potential job prospects, internship opportunities, and the curriculum offered by the school.
  • Look Into Job Prospects: Understand the career options available with your future degree and explore ways to gain internships and form connections in your desired field.
  • Talk With Family and Friends: Discuss your college experience and future plans with your family and friends to gain insights you might not have considered on your own.
  • Take Career Assessments: Take career assessments such as personality tests to narrow down options for professions that align with your skills and strengths.
  • Review Major Requirements: Make sure you meet the prerequisites for your desired major and consider what you need to enter and succeed in the field.
  • Consider the Cost: College is an investment, so consider the affordability of your education and explore financial aid options like scholarships, grants, and loans.
  • Get Involved: Join clubs, and participate in conferences, and extracurricular activities related to your potential major to learn more and develop a sense of community.
  • Consult Your Advisor: Speak to your college advisor for insight into specific courses, career paths, and opportunities related to your potential major.
  • Take Additional Courses: Take additional courses in areas that interest you to encourage exploration and discover your passions within a field.

Remember that choosing a college major is a journey, and it's okay to change your mind and explore different paths. Enjoy the process of exploring your interests and passions, and utilize the resources available to you to make an informed decision about your future.

FAQs: College Degrees That Are In Demand

Here are the top three frequently asked questions about in-demand college degrees.

1. What Degree Has The Most Job Opportunities?

Architecture and engineering degrees offer the most job opportunities due to the wide variety of specializations available. Students can choose a specialization that aligns with their passions and interests within these fields.

2. What Major Earns the Most Money?

A degree in business management often leads to high salaries immediately after graduation. Business management graduates have the potential to earn a good living and eventually move into CEO positions with sufficient experience.

3. Which Degree Is Best for the Future?

Degrees related to technology, such as computer science, information technology, or engineering, are excellent choices for the future. These fields consistently require skilled professionals, and job growth projections indicate a strong demand for graduates with these degrees.

4. What is the Most Useful Degree?

The most useful degree is business management due to its flexibility. Business management is not a niche degree and can land you jobs in a variety of different fields.

Final Thoughts

When looking at the different college degrees that are in demand, it becomes apparent that students want jobs that have good growth potential and high salaries. To make sure they are successful, students flock to the degrees that result in a career, which makes a lot of sense in a world of economic instability.

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