What’s the most popular major?

Below are listed a ranking of disciplines by how many 2012 graduates received a degree in that field. For the top five majors, professors were asked their thoughts on their discipline’s popularity and students were asked why they chose their major. 

1. Business Administration (35)

2. Liberal Arts & Sciences (28)

3. History (26)

4. Biology (19)

4. Nursing (19)

6. Communication (8)

6. Administration of Justice (8)

8. Psychology (17)

9. Health & P.E. (16)

10. Government (12)

11. Sociology (10)

12. Chemistry (9)

13. English (8)

13. Accounting (8)

15. Environmental Science (7)

16. Art (6)

17. Music (5)

17. Biochemistry (5)

19. Spanish (4)

20. Computer Science (3)

20. Theatre (3)

22. Economics (2)

22. Math (2)

22. Management Info Systems (2)

22. Software Engineering (2)

26. Foreign Studies (1)

26. French (1)



“I believe that our … major is popular because so many of our students pursue a college degree to improve their career prospects upon graduation. National data show clearly the added value of a bachelors’ degree for getting a job and for boosting lifetime earnings … Bottom line … potential employers can be confident that business administration majors have been exposed to the terminology of business and the basic roles of its primary functions.” – David Kendall, Department of Business and Economics chair 

“I’m majoring in business administration because I’m looking to get a job abroad in China, and I’m particularly interested in starting my own business so I thought that [business administration] would give me the skills that I need to manage and run a company.” – Nathan Childress, senior business administration 


“Our graduates want to make a difference in children’s lives and teaching gives people that opportunity. Our graduates probably have fond memories of their elementary, middle, and high school experiences and they may be drawn back to those experiences. Many may want to teach because of their parents being teachers or being greatly influenced by a specific teacher. A word of caution for those who are considering teaching: The world changes when you are on the other side of the desk as a teacher and not a student.” – David Cantrell, Department of Education chair 

“It’s my passion. Special education has always had a special place in my heart ever since early high school. I know no other major would ever make me as happy as it does. After graduation I plan on teaching special education at the elementary or high school level.” – Hayley Bowman, junior liberal arts and sciences major


“History is a popular major not only because it is fascinating to learn about the past— which also helps us understand the world around us— but because it is actually a very practical major. The skills that are emphasized with a history major, where one identifies a topic, frames questions to be answered regarding that issue, identifies sources of information, and then analyzes and synthesizes that information, usually in writing, are easily applicable to many professions.” – Cindy Wilkey, associate professor of history

“I’ve always loved history and that’s pretty much why I’m doing it. I plan on going into public history. I’d like to pursue a career in a museum or something else like that.” – Steven Maloyed, junior history major


“Biology is a high-demand major due partially to the number of career possibilities a biology degree entails. The medical field is one obvious draw for biology students, but a number of other careers are possible in biology, including careers in the environmental sciences, wildlife management and conservation and education. Many students pursuing career paths in these fields also use a general biology degree as a foundation for further work in professional or graduate school. The sheer number of doors that general biology training can open contributes to its popularity as a major among students.” – Walter Smith, assistant professor of biology

“I’ve always loved science. In particular biology because [I’m interested] in the human body, and I want to be a doctor. I’ve just always liked biology more than chemistry or [any other science].” – Helen Osborne, sophomore biology major


“Our graduates do not have any problems getting good positions with excellent salary and benefits after graduation.  The demand for BSN -prepared RNs is high and projected to increase over the next 20 years. BSN prepared graduates are highly qualified with a very special skill set to care for patients, families and communities.” – Debra Carter, associate professor of nursing

“My grandfather served in the medical tents in WWII and we had to do a biography on someone important in our lives around fifth grade, so he told me about everything that he did in the war. He said it was the hardest job he ever had but being able to do the smallest thing meant the world to that person, and that it was just very rewarding to him.” – Katie Newgent, junior nursing major

Todd Galyean

Senior political science major Todd Galyean served as editor-in-chief for The Highland Cavalier for the fall semester of 2013. He previously served as new/features editor and opinion editor.

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