Best Majors for Undecided Students

October 14, 2021

Best Majors for Undecided Students

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Most Versatile Degrees

Students who choose a major early on in college can streamline their education journey. This is because many programs require enrollees to complete coursework in a certain order. Undecided majors may not complete major prerequisites and core courses. As a result, they may take longer to earn their degree.

Prospective learners can use this page to explore some of the most popular majors for undecided students. This page also highlights some of the top-paying majors for undecided students.

Below is a list of the top ten most versatile majors, these majors are ranked by PayScale as the majors that lead to the widest variety of jobs. Most versatile majors are general degrees that students can tailor to specific jobs.

  • 1. Business Administration
  • 2. Communication
  • 3. Business Management
  • 4. Pyshcology
  • 5. Sociology
  • 6. Biology
  • 7. Economics
  • 8. Political Science
  • 9. History
  • 10. English Literature
  • Five Questions to Ask Yourself When Choosing a Major

    Many potential factors go into determining the best majors for undecided students. Learners should consider their education and career goals. Most careers require corresponding degrees and credentials. Prospective learners should also consider their skills and talents.

    See below for some questions that can help learners determine the best majors for undecided students.

    1. What Were My Academic Strengths in High School?

      Prospective students should consider where they excelled in high school. Students who earned high grades in English may want to major in communications or education. Those with strong quantitative skills may choose a science or engineering major.

      Some students choose majors related to their favorite extracurriculars. Athletes may major in sports management or sports medicine. Creative students may pursue art-related majors.

    2. What Career Fields Interest Me?

      Many students enroll in college to prepare for a career. Learners who know what field they want to work in should choose a major that builds skills for that career area. Aspiring medical professionals may want to major in biology or chemistry. Aspiring management professionals may choose to major in business.

      Learners should select a major that interests them. Following a strong passion or curiosity can help them focus in school.

    3. What Industries Are Growing, and What Majors Can Lead to Careers in Those Industries?

      Industries grow or shrink as the economy changes. Prospective learners can explore growing industries to determine the best majors for undecided students. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects growth in many industries between 2019 and 2029, including healthcare and social assistance. Graduates may work as nurses or social workers.
    4. Which Majors Maximize My Return on Investment and Earning Potential?

      Exploring top-paying majors can introduce students to high-paying careers. The BLS provides salary data on over 400 industries. According to the BLS, professionals in business and financial occupations earn a median annual salary of $72,250. Professionals who work in computer and information technology earn $91,250.
    5. Do I Want to Go to Grad School?

      Aspiring graduate school students may choose a general undergraduate major. A general major provides foundational skills rather than specialized, technical training. These learners should choose an undergraduate major that builds skills relevant to the kind of graduate education they seek.

      Aspiring law students may study English or political science. Students who want to pursue an MBA may earn a general business degree.

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    What Should I Major In?

    Need more help? The following online quizzes from Loyola University Chicago and The Princeton Review can point you in the right direction:

    Top Five Popular Majors

    Many college students choose a major that can help them land a high-paying job. See below for some of the most popular majors.

    1. Business

      Business majors build skills in areas such as analysis and financial management. They can transfer these skills to many industries. Degree-seekers can study business at any degree level. Most business and financial occupations require a bachelor's degree.

      Learners complete coursework in accounting, management, and marketing. Many programs feature electives or curriculum concentrations. Students can specialize in areas such as human resources or health services administration. Graduates with a business degree may work as budget analysts or personal financial advisors.

    2. Health/Clinical Sciences

      Learners who choose a health or clinical sciences major explore human health and disease. The major offers concentration options such as biological health science and health management. Enrollees can study health science at undergraduate and graduate levels.

      Courses cover bioethics, epidemiology, and research methods. Many programs explore health sciences in context by offering related courses in economics and law. Health science undergraduates may qualify for many entry-level healthcare occupations.

      Health science graduates may work as physical therapy assistants or dental hygienists. This foundational major can lead to a graduate-level medical education.

    3. Social Science

      Many schools offer social science-related associate or bachelor's degrees. These programs include coursework in psychology, sociology, and anthropology. Economics, political science, and geography also count as social sciences.

      Some learners concentrate in areas such as women's studies or mass communications. Social science degree-holders may work as social workers or HR professionals. A general major in social science can prepare students for graduate programs in specialized fields. Graduate-level social science learners can pursue academic or research careers.

    4. Psychology

      Many bachelor's in psychology programs offer concentrations in areas such as clinical psychology and abnormal psychology. Learners interested in working with young people may specialize in childhood development or school psychology.

      Common psychology coursework includes statistics and abnormal psychology. Graduates may work in human services or rehabilitation services. Some psychology graduates pursue careers in criminal justice or business.

    5. Biological and Biomedical Sciences

      Biological science involves living organisms. Biomedical science involves human biology and medicine. Common biological science concentrations include genetics and animal physiology. Biomedical science majors may concentrate in areas such as biomedical research or pre-veterinary biomedical science.

      Courses cover human anatomy, chemistry, and biology. Undergraduate degree-holders can pursue a graduate degree in medicine, dentistry, or environmental management. Some graduates pursue careers in zoology or public health. Graduates may work as animal biochemists or dieticians.

    Highest-Paying Majors

    Some majors can lead to high-paying careers. See below for five top-paying majors. Remember that many factors can influence pay, including a professional's experience and their employer.

    1. Petroleum Engineering

      This major prepares students for careers in petroleum exploration, extraction, and transportation. Enrollees complete core and specialized coursework in geology, chemistry, and physics. Schools offer petroleum engineering most often at the bachelor's level. Learners can complete a bachelor's degree in about four years.

      According to August 2021 PayScale salary data, entry-level petroleum engineers average around $87,800 annually. Engineers with at least 20 years of experience average $150,000. Petroleum engineering graduates may work as reservoir engineers or performance analysts.

    2. Actuarial Mathematics

      Students who choose this major learn how to apply mathematics to risk measurement and assessment activities. Courses cover finance, accounting, and economics. Students do not need a math-related degree to become an actuary. However, studying math or actuarial science can help graduates pass the professional licensure examinations for actuaries.

      Actuaries may work in insurance or financial consulting. According to August 2021 PayScale data, entry-level actuaries average around $63,000 annually. Experienced actuaries average around $146,000.

    3. Actuarial Science

      This major focuses on mathematical practices for risk analysis. Enrollees develop mathematical problem-solving and critical thinking skills. Students complete courses in chemistry, physics, and calculus. Actuaries do not need a bachelor's in a related field. Actuarial science coursework helps prepare enrollees for actuary professional examinations.

      Actuarial science graduates often work as actuaries. They may also work as insurance underwriters or accountants. According to August 2021 PayScale salary information, entry-level actuaries average around $63,000 annually. Experienced actuaries average $146,000.

    4. Nuclear Engineering

      Students who pursue this major explore nuclear processes. They learn how to design nuclear-based systems. Coursework covers physics, math, and computer applications. Learners also study nuclear engineering subjects. They may specialize in areas such as radiation imaging or health physics.

      According to August 2021 PayScale data, nuclear engineer salaries start around an average of $69,000 annually. Top-earning engineers average $123,000.

    5. Chemical Engineering

      Chemical engineering majors complete core courses in calculus, physics, and chemistry. Enrollees study topics such as thermodynamics and kinetics. Students also learn about process analysis and transport processes.

      Chemical engineering graduates may work in food processing, environmental control, or aerospace. According to PayScale salary data from August 2021, entry-level chemical engineers average about $68,000 annually. Experienced chemical engineers average about $126,000.

    Q&A About Choosing a Major with Dr. Aviva Legatt

    Q. How important is choosing the right major for my career?

    It depends on the career you want. Certain majors lead to specific careers, like doctor or lawyer. Some majors, like art and economics, can lead to several careers. If you're still trying to determine your career path, identify the skills and knowledge you'll gain from a particular major. Then, map out how you can use these skills in the professional world after graduation.

    Q. Do I have to declare a major when I submit my college application?

    Some colleges allow applicants to be undeclared. However, many admissions panel readers advise students not to be undeclared. This can prevent them from understanding the student.

    It's better to pick a major you're fairly serious about and switch later than to be undeclared on your application. However, you shouldn't choose any major randomly. This is especially true if the rest of your application doesn't align with your selection. For students who don't know what to study, being undeclared is acceptable if the other parts of their application show their interests and goals.

    Q. When do I need to declare my major?

    As soon as you know what interests you and what you want to do. Many colleges encourage students to declare a major early on. However, a study based on data from 78,000 students suggests it's best to wait until you know what you want to work toward.

    It's common for students to change majors. Most courses in the first and second year focus on general education. This is a great time to sample different fields of study and talk to advisors to pinpoint interests and skills.

    Q. Can I change my mind?

    Yes. Many undergraduates change their mind. Carefully think everything through before officially changing your major, especially if you want to change course during your junior or senior year. Switching majors can change graduation requirements. Students who change their major during junior year or later may need to stay an extra semester or more to graduate. This means spending more money on tuition and other school-related costs.

    Q. What if I'm interested in several subjects?

    This isn't a bad thing, but you will need to narrow things down. Exploring is the best way to do that. During your first year, take general education classes in the subject areas that interest you. Slowly remove majors that aren't the best fit based on your interests or skills.

    Talk to students who are already in those fields to find out what they like and don't like about the major. You can also talk to professors to see if one subject area aligns with your career goals more so than others.

    If you want to combine your interests, you can double major or minor. Students who major in history but also enjoy politics could major in history and minor in political science. Some students complete two majors, taking 50-60 credits for each discipline.

    Double majoring may require students to be in school for an extra semester or two. However, having two distinct sets of knowledge may lead to higher starting salaries and more job opportunities.

    Q. What if I'm interested in a specific area of study but I feel like it isn't practical or doesn't have a strong career outlook?

    This is a dilemma for many students, particularly those considering soft sciences. Before eliminating a major, consider what you could get out of it. Most majors offer broad skills that can be useful in many careers.

    You can also develop a set of learning objectives or goals for particular majors. Most majors don't necessarily provide a linear path to a job. For example, some of my colleagues have anthropology degrees and help businesses with cultural problems.

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