Trends in the popularity of college majors

by Grace

Which college majors have gained in popularity over the last half century?

Ben Schmidt at Northeastern University has just created a data chart that shows how the popularity of college majors since the mid-1960s have changed. …

The charts are interactive, allowing the user to select options that show specific majors and schools, as well as gender differences.  I hate to admit how much time I wasted spent playing with studying the graphs.

Here’s one chart showing a few majors I selected for display.
It shows the decline of interest in English and literature, the rise of computer science as a discipline, and how the growth of business majors has mainly been fueled by the increasing numbers of women.



This chart is from New York University.
It shows the shrinking popularity of English and literature alongside the growing popularity of art and architecture.  This confirms my suspicion about the growing numbers of students who prefer cinema and music over the written word as a means of expression.


Two more charts I produced, one from the University of Texas at Austin:


And another from the University of California at Irvine:




5 Comments to “Trends in the popularity of college majors”

  1. In the past decade, we saw a big decline in computer science and a huge rise in communications/media at the same time.
    Nationwide, computer science has been growing by about 10% a year over the last 5 years, though.


  2. Was the bubble a factor in the computer science decline?

    The biggest growth in communications seems to have occurred mainly before 2005.


  3. It was, but it wasn’t the first time it happened. CS enrollments have tended to be wildly cyclical for decades. There was a similar bust in the early 90’s


  4. Communications/media leaves me shaking my head. Where are the jobs for all those people?


  5. I suspect many communications/media graduates are underemployed.


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