Top 10 Most Popular Majors in the U.S.

Should you do something just because it's popular? Usually not. However, when it comes to choosing a college major, the most popular are so for a reason.

This list of the top 10 most popular majors is based on average yearly graduation rates of students from specific programs. These majors have maintained high popularity for years due to their versatility and preparation for satisfying careers. Take a look...

1. Business Administration & Management

In our ranking of the most popular majors in college, business administration and management takes the top spot with nearly 180,000 graduations yearly. A degree in business administration and management will prepare you to master the intricacies of problem solving within a business and helping you succeed in working with others.

Graduates go on to work in a variety of careers including various managerial positions as well as business support positions such as logisticians and business analysts. The average starting salary of someone with a degree in business administration is $41,245 with an average mid-career salary of $70,694. Top-ranked schools for this degree include the University of Pennsylvania, University of California-Berkeley and the University of Southern California.

2. Nursing

Graduates in nursing come in a close second in our list of most popular majors with just under 155,000 yearly graduates. If you love working with people and want to make a difference in their lives on the front-lines of healthcare, a career in nursing may be for you. Within the nursing profession, you can specialize in a number of areas including anesthetists, instructors, practitioners and midwives.

The top-ranked schools in the US for nursing include Molloy College, New York University and Drexel University. Nurses have an average starting salary of just over $53,000 and an average mid-career salary of $70,116.

3. Liberal Arts and General Studies

Not sure what to do after you graduate? Consider getting a liberal arts or general studies degree. Research has shown that graduates with a college degree will earn more on average than someone without a degree. With over 140,000 graduations per year, liberal arts continues to be one of the most popular college majors. Students graduating from general studies programs can expect an average starting salary of $36,461 and an average mid-career salary of $61,345.

Top liberal arts schools include Georgetown University, Cornell University and New York University.

4. General Psychology

Coming in at the 4th spot with over 116,000 graduates per year is the ever popular psychology major. A general psychology degree will open doors for you to find jobs in social work, marketing and human resources. If you wish to get into a clinical setting, you will need to continue your education to get your doctorate or masters degrees. The average starting salary for someone with a general psychology degree is $34,728 with an average mid-career salary of just over $60,000.

Top schools for a psychology degree includes Stanford University, University of California – Los Angeles and Washington University in St Louis.

5. Biology, General

A degree in general biology will let you spend hands-on time studying life. Whether you are interested in studying larger life forms like animals or microscopic life like bacteria, a degree in biology can set you up with a career in and out of the lab. Biology teachers, forensic scientists, and science technicians are all possible careers. With additional training and education, biology students can go on to become medical or veterinary professionals. About 78,000 students graduate each year with a general biology degree.

Top ranked biology schools are the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University and Tufts University. General biology graduates can expect an average starting salary of $37,500 and an average mid-career salary of $58,696.

6. Criminal Justice and Corrections

It takes a special kind of person to work in the criminal justice and corrections fields. You must enjoy working with people and be able to work with any kind of individual whether it be lawyers, judges or criminals – interpersonal skills are essential. With over 72,000 graduations yearly, criminal justice is a very popular area of study. A criminal justice or corrections degree will let you start a career in law enforcement, corrections, security services or forensics.

The average starting salary is $35,293 with an average mid-career salary of just under $60,000. Top ranked schools for criminal justice include George Mason University, George Washington University and SUNY at Albany.

7. Accounting

Students with a strong attention to detail and knack for mathematics could consider a career in accounting. Accountants work with numerical facts and help businesses create and manage budgets, perform financial forecasting and handle incoming and outgoing payments. Approximately 60,000 students graduate with a degree in accounting each year.

Accounting majors can expect an early career salary of $44,000 and an average mid-career salary of $75,000. Top accounting schools include Bentley University, University of Illinois at Urbana – Champaign and Bryant University.

8. Teacher Education

Love working with kids or adults and want to make a difference in their lives? An education in teaching could be a great fit for you. We all have a teacher we can look back on and appreciate what they’ve done for us. It could be your turn to make a difference. Salary for teachers will vary greatly on the district you teach in, the type of teaching you do and your level of education.

About 57,000 students graduate with an education in teaching per year. Popular schools include Ashford University, Grand Canyon University and Kaplan University – Davenport Campus.   

9. Communications

Graduates with a degree in communications and media studies have great opportunities for finding careers in this quickly growing field. This field will likely continue to grow as new media takes on new forms and people develop new ways of communication. Who knew limiting online posts to 140-characters could spin into a whole new way of communicating with one another?

Graduates in communications will likely see an average early career salary of $37,000 and an average mid-career salary of nearly $65,000. About 55,000 students graduate yearly with communications majors from top schools such as the University of Southern California, University of Pennsylvania and Northwestern University.

10. English

Last in our list of most popular college majors is English Language and Literature. While a far cry from the 180,000 graduates in business administration, there are about 40,000 English graduates per year. English graduates can expect to find careers heavy in writing and the language arts such as scriptwriters, novelists, technical writers or teaching with additional education.

Early career salaries are around $36,000 with an average mid-career salary of $63,000. Top schools for English majors include the University of Pennsylvania, Georgetown University and the University of Washington – Seattle Campus.