Career Prep: What Are the Hottest Majors Right Now?

October 2015

With school back in session, the job market may not be a priority for every college student. That being said, as the economy continues to improve and the demand for qualified candidates grows, it is important for those preparing to enter the workforce to consider which degrees will provide skills to meet the requirements of today’s competitive job market.

Though the number of college degree completion continues to grow, it is doing so at a much slower pace today than back in 2011, and many hiring managers are having difficulty finding candidates who possess the skills acquired in some of the areas of study that have seen greater decline over the past few years. Are students making the right choices when it comes to areas of specialization? A recent study conducted by CareerBuilder and EMSI highlighted a breakdown of degrees with both the highest growth and greatest decline:

College Degrees with Highest Levels of Growth:
According to the study, over half of the highest growth degree programs were in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math). Though this may not come as a surprise, the growth statistics (which range from 49% for Science Technologies to 26% for Engineering) are particularly significant. With skills from these majors in particularly high demand in today’s job market, it only makes sense that college students are focusing their efforts on these industries.

College Degrees with Highest Levels of Decline:
Many of us have heard that the humanities are dead, and though statistics don’t entirely support that statement, they do show a degree of decline that is concerning. Majors like Education, History, and English have seen some of the greatest decline in recent years. That being said, many employers cite a need for employees who possess strong critical-thinking and communication skills (many of which are acquired through liberal arts studies).

College students planning for the future are wise to be cognizant of workforce trends, and the growing number of degree completions in the sciences is a strong indication that students are well-informed about which fields are experiencing the most growth. However, the fact that degrees in the humanities have seen decline should be concerning, as graduates with those particular skill sets (educators, policy makers, etc) are an important part of the economy.