What to Study In College: Your Guide

Confused college student in city
April 29, 2024
Expert Reviewed


Reviewed by:

Mary Banks

Former Admissions Committee Member, Columbia University

Reviewed: 4/26/24

Figuring out what to study in college can feel overwhelming. Whether you’re interested in many different subjects or not compelled by any of them, it’s a stressful decision that can define your early adult years. 

Fret no more! This article will discuss ten factors to consider when picking your college major. The list is not in any particular order, and you’re encouraged to read it, considering which factors matter most to you.

If you’re still unsure, this article includes a list of the top eight college majors to consider. Reading through the top college majors could also spark your curiosity and introduce you to an area of study you hadn’t previously thought about for yourself.

Top 10 Most Popular College Majors

These recommendations are based on the general outlook of the future job market, the level of satisfaction people who study these majors obtain, and the vast array of professions that will allow you to apply the skills you’ve acquired from these majors. 

Note that the majors listed below are in no particular order–here are the best degrees to get in college.

1. Computer Science

Computer Science majors are some of the most sought-after graduates in the world. With this degree, you can work in tech, research, business, government, and more! Many schools offer summer programs for students potentially interested in Computer Science or STEM-related disciplines that can help boost your college application. 

2. Electrical Engineering

Electrical Engineers are in-demand for a wide variety of industries such as consumer electronics, self-driving cars, renewable energy, and more! 

3. Philosophy

Billionaire investor Mark Cuban projects that in about ten years, a Philosophy degree will be worth more than a technical degree. With such advancements in technology, Cuban remarks that philosophy majors will be equipped with the skills to assess the best use for these technologies for the wider society.

4. Cyber Security

The U.S Bureau of Labour and Statistics predicts that the cyber security industry will grow by over 30% from 2019-2029. This is because security will become increasingly necessary as our lives move into the digital space. 

5. Nursing

Nursing is one of the most essential occupations in healthcare. There are many reasons why being a nurse is enticing, so it’s important that you know which college nursing program will best help you secure employment after graduation. 

6. Communication and Media Studies

In an increasingly connected and online world, the ability to communicate effectively is a more valuable skill than ever. You can pursue many different career paths with a communications and media studies major. 

7. Pharmacology

The demand for Pharmacologists is increasingly rising. With a degree in Pharmacology, you can work in both business and governmental research settings and set yourself up nicely for a career in medicine. 

8. Business Operations and Project Management

With a changing business landscape, more and more professionals will find themselves working on short-term, project-based employment agreements. Studying Business Operations and Project Management puts you in the best position to navigate shifts in the industry.

9. Psychology

With increasing demand for psychological support due to rising mental health concerns, psychologists are in high demand. Job growth in this field will grow 6% over the next decade

In the 2020-2021 academic year, 126,900 bachelor's degrees in psychology were awarded, accounting for 6% of all bachelor's degrees received. 

Psychology coursework covers research methods, statistics, and cognition, often including supervised clinical experiences in graduate programs. 

While a doctorate is typically required for clinical psychology careers, a bachelor's degree in psychology can lead to opportunities in business and education. Graduates often excel in marketing, advertising, and sales, leveraging their understanding of human behavior.

10. Education

Increasing student numbers drive the demand for teachers. In 2021-2022, colleges awarded 89,410 bachelor's degrees in education.

Teacher salaries vary by level: college professors earn a median of $84,380 yearly, middle school teachers earn $64,290, and preschool teachers earn $37,130.

Education programs cover classroom management, curriculum design, and student support, as well as courses on teaching methods, societal context, and adolescent development.

10 Tips on How to Decide What to Study in College

Here are ten considerations you can make to help you decide what to study in college. 

1. Define What You’re Passionate About

The best advice you can receive when figuring out what to study in college is to know what you’re passionate about. No matter how complex a subject is, you'll persevere if it’s something you’re passionate about. Finding your college major is a big step toward honing in on these passions and pursuing that as a career!

2. Can it Open Many Career Opportunities?

When you only have a vague, general idea of what you’re passionate about or what you’re interested in, looking through the array of jobs open to people who pursued certain majors in college is a great way to figure out what to study. If you like the career prospects, chances are you’ll enjoy studying that major. 

3. Can You Do a Double-Degree?

Degree plans that offer a variety of subjects to explore can be great if you don’t know what to study in college. Studying different disciplines is a good way to expand your horizons. You’ll also get to explore different subjects to really know which is best for you. 

4. Consider the Financial Outlook

Factoring in the financial viability of different degrees is an important component of deciding what to study in college. Some degree paths will be more expensive, while others might have more accessible scholarship opportunities. 

Knowing what is financially sustainable for your undergraduate career might help you make this choice.

5. Can You Tolerate the Workload?

Different majors will require differing levels of commitment. Although there’s no point in discussing which majors are easier/harder, some schools may offer part-time studies or work-study programs. This way, you can disperse your learning for longer to make the load more manageable. 

6. Consider the Classes You Enjoy and Do Well In

Referring back to stand-out classes in high school can illuminate what to study in college. If you took any class that you had a stellar experience taking or were incredibly proficient at, then it’s worth considering that subject as your college major. 

7. Is There Room To Grow? (co-op programs)

If you’d prefer to find your passion not just in the classroom but in the workplace, then selecting a major with a strong co-op program is a good idea. Through different work placements, you can learn firsthand what a day in the life looks like for someone who works in your area of study, which can offer you lots of clarity. 

8. Are You Ready to Consider Grad School?

If you wish to pursue a career requiring more school after undergrad (Law, Medicine, etc.), you should start thinking about grad school now. If you’re set on any profession requiring post-undergraduate education, it’d be good to select a college major that puts you in the best position to succeed in grad school. 

9. Does the College Major Allow You to Explore Other Avenues? 

Remember, one of the most useful college degrees allows you to explore other avenues if you wish. If you’re not too sure of what you want to study, selecting a major that allows you free range at different elective courses is a great way to find your passion. Taking a variety of classes might be a great way to make the most of your college experience! 

10. Can I Get Into the Program?

From academics to extracurriculars, getting into college requires a constellation of efforts. With this, it’s important to set realistic goals about what programs you can get into. Examine your grades, extracurriculars, and take a look at the courses you’ve already taken and done well in.

FAQs: What to Study In College

Here are some common FAQs people ask when figuring out what to study in college. 

1. What is the Most Common Thing to Study in College?

The most common major to be awarded at graduation nationwide is a degree in Business and Management. 

2. What is the Easiest Thing to Study in College?

The verdict is still out on this one. However, many cite humanities and social science degrees (for example, history) as relatively more straightforward in comparison to STEM disciplines. 

3. How do I Decide on My Major?

Think about what is most important to you. Consult with friends, family, and even people who have studied the subjects you’re potentially interested in. 

4. How Much Impact Does My College Major Have on My Career?

According to this study, only 27% of individuals work in a profession related to their college major. With this said, it won’t affect your life significantly after graduation if you don't pursue a career related to your college major. 

5. What Matters More For Getting A Job After Graduation, The School or Major?

Both have a part to play in your success in finding a job after graduation. The more prestigious the school, the greater the name recognition and connections you might meet along the way. However, studying a highly sought-after major at whatever school can put you in a good position to find a job post-graduation. 

6. What are the Worst College Majors?

There’s no way to determine which college majors are worse than others. The only way to spot a bad college major is if it’s bad for you. Although different majors offer differing prospects after school, studying what you’re most passionate about is key to your success.

Final Thoughts

Deciding what to study in college can be difficult considering all the factors. If you’re unsure of what you want to study, don’t worry! There will be plenty of opportunities to explore various subjects when you get to college, and it’s normal to change majors when you get there. 

Remember to listen to yourself. Accept others’ advice as best as possible but always do what feels right for you. Selecting a college major is a big step toward taking responsibility for yourself. Only you can truly know what you want to study in college.

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