The Six Most Popular College Majors (And How Much They Are Worth)

October 17, 2012  |  
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If you are looking into college soon or are planning your children’s college education, the decision of what to major in is a significant one. In today’s economy, deciding on a major could ultimately lead you to a high-paying career or lead to a profession that’s struggling.

According to a May interview between Payscale’s lead economist Katie Bardaro and Forbes, unless a candidate has attended a top-notch school, today’s employers are more concerned with relevant coursework and a potential employee’s major.

While you are preparing your research into colleges and universities, getting your SAT test scores together, or mapping out your child’s educational future, make sure you take a look at some of the most popular college majors and how they could benefit you or your child after graduation.


Business Administration and Management

One of the most consistently popular college majors, business administration and management, garners various employment opportunities post-graduation. If you have excellent leadership skills and solid decision-making abilities, business management might be a major for you to consider in college or possibly for graduate school, having the opportunity to obtain your MBA.

The advantages of a business administration degree is the broad range of education, from formulating a business plan to learning the ins and outs of running a successful business. According to a study conducted by Georgetown University, business majors earn a median income of $58,000, $85,000 on the higher end.

Click here to read a profile of Dale Sedgwick, pictured above. She talked with Madame Noire about her path to the top ranks of Xerox.



As one of the top five most popular majors in college consistently, accounting can earn a graduate of the major between $63,000 mid-level to $95,000 in their career at the top percentile. These college graduates go on to become accountants and working with accounts payable, accounts receivable and payroll. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, this college major’s graduates will see jobs increase in their field 18 percent between 2006 to 2016.


The field of nursing offers careers in the medical sciences, where the opportunities have not lacked overall, even after the economy took a hit during the beginning of the 21st century. Nursing graduates can expect to end up in health practice occupations, with about six percent branching out the management positions within the field. Nurses are expected to earn anywhere between $45,000 and $80,000 in their career, depending on the field, education level and nature of their work.



The field of psychology has maintained its popularity mainly because of its career versatility. Many graduates who majored in the field of psychology do not necessarily become psychologists; they might move on to the fields of general counseling, school psychology or even focus on a career in the government sector. The psychology major usually earns its graduates between $38,000 and $87,000.



The college major of communications can vary greatly. Many graduates of this major could go on to discover careers in mass media, speech pathology, communications sciences and many more areas of focus. Since communications is so broad and requires various coursework along with real-world experience, it has maintained its popularity among college goers. This major can earn a graduate between $34,000 to $75,000 annually, depending on the area of expertise.

Elementary Education

Elementary education is a major that is primarily known for producing teachers, social workers and principals in the education industry. With an elementary education degree, the possibility to further your education with graduate school or real-world experience with various foundations like Teach For America is abundant. As a female-dominated industry for decades (only nine percent of college males are enrolled as elementary education majors), many go into the field of elementary education to touch the lives of the younger generation in and outside of the classroom, with the annual salary range anywhere between $32,000 and $55,000.


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