College Trends: Top 10 Bachelor and Associate Degrees and Majors

By Beth Dumbauld

Have you ever wondered how to go to college even if you didn’t pursue your degree right after high school? Or are you looking to switch career fields? Rest assured, even if you didn’t go directly to college after high school or are looking for a midlife career change, there are many ways to take college classes, including online. With a college degree, you can get to where you want to be both personally and professionally.

Perhaps you are looking to accelerate your journey down your current career path or switch from your current job into a field that fits you better. For some careers, a four-year bachelor’s degree may be essential; for others, a 2-year associate degree can take you where you want to go in less time. Just as there are different paths to pursue your degree, there are also different sets of majors to choose from. The most popular bachelor and associate majors tend to vary with type of degree awarded.1

Top Ten Bachelor Degrees*

  1. Business (21%): About one-fifth of all bachelor degrees awarded in 2007-2008 were in business.
  2. Social Science (11%): The social sciences also include history.
  3. Health Professions (7%)
  4. Education (7%)
  5. Psychology (6%)
  6. Art (6%)
  7. Engineering (5%)
  8. Communication (5%)
  9. Biological Sciences (5%)
  10. Other (28%)2

For those graduating with an associate degree, you’ll notice there is a difference in the types of majors as well as the ranking order.

Top Associate Degrees*

  1. Liberal Arts/Science (34%)
  2. Health Professions (21%)
  3. Business (16%)
  4. Engineering (7%)
  5. Protective Services (4%)
  6. Computer Sciences (4%)
  7. Other (15%)3

(*Numbers have been rounded so may add up to more than 100%)

1 College Board Advocacy & Policy Center, Trends in Higher Education Series: Trends in College Pricing, 2010, p.27