Facts About Majors

learn the facts

Most college students feel stressed about choosing a major and/or career. A lot of this anxiety comes from the fact that much of what you believe to be true about choosing a major/career…simply isn’t true. These myths and misinformation cause students to overthink their decision, which can lead to A LOT of unnecessary stress and a greater posibility of making the wrong choice.

We're here to provide FACTS, not opinions. Because you owe it to yourself to gather as much ACCURATE AND RELIABLE information as possible so that you can make a confident and informed decision!

1. Employers care more about "transferable skills" than your choice of major.

If the point of earning a college degree is to put yourself in a position to have a solid career, it's important to have an understanding of what employers are looking for graduates. Believe it or not, your choice of major isn't even on the list of what employers seek on a candidate's resume. Here's the list from the National Association of Colleges and Employers' (NACE) 2023 Job Outlook Report:

Almost every skill on this list is what's called a "transferable skill":

Transferable Skills: Skills and abilities that are relevant and helpful across different areas of life.

...and opposed to "technical skills":

Technical Skills: Specific, teachable abilities that can be defined and measure and are usually directly related to a chosen field or job. 

While technical skills are important, they're easier to teach and train on the job. However, employers assume that successful college graduate will be proficient in transferable skills shown on this list.

When someone doesn't get a job...it's not because of their choice of major...it's because they are not able to demonstrate that they have the necessary transferable skills. 

Here's a secret...ANY major can help you develop these skills...and it's much easier to develop them if you're in a major in which you have a genuine interest! So make sure you put some effort to finding the right fit for you!


2. Most employers require a certain level of education and experience...not a specific major.

Most jobs do not require a specific major. Let's say it again...MOST JOBS DO NOT REQUIRE A SPECIFIC MAJOR! Employability has far more to do with your level of education, your practical experience and your attainment of transferable skills than your declared major. While there are some careers that require specific certifications (think of nursing), there are still ways to get to that career even if it's not your undergraduate major. 


3.  The majority of employed people with bachelors degrees are in jobs that do not directly relate to their undergraduate major.

A study by the Federal Reserve Bank found that only 27% of college graduates are working in a job directly related to their undergraduate major. This shows us that your choice of major does not have to equal the career you'll have for the rest of your life! Choose a major that you're interested in and will help you build skills that will make you employable in a diverse range of career fields. 


4.  Most workers change jobs many times and almost half the workforce reports changing career fields at least once.

Researchers from The Bureau of Labor Statistics conducted a national longitudinal study and reported that people changed jobs an average of 12 times from ages 18-54.  In another largescale study by Indeed.com it was reported that career changes are very common, with 49% of respondents making at least one major career change and an additional 65% have considered or are thinking about a dramatic career change.


5.  Majors that lead to the most variety of job opportunities come from many academic areas.

In one LinkedIn study the top 10 most versatile majors were identified.  These majors lead to the largest variety of jobs.  The list included majors from diverse areas, including social/behavioral sciences, business, arts and humanities and STEM.  In another Payscale study, an equally diverse group of majors were given the top transferability score.

1.  Students who take the time to explore majors in college have the highest graduation rates.

It is a popular misconception that, in order to graduate on time, students need to know their major BEFORE they start college. A large scale study found a modest improvement in graduation rates for students who take the time to explore. Students who waited until their 3rd semester of college to declare their final major had a 5% higher graduation rate than those who chose their final major before entering college. The researchers speculated that students who wait to declare their major are more likely to choose academic areas that are in line with their interests leading to higher academic performance and motivation.


2.  Choosing a major based on personal interest leads to higher graduation rates.

A peer-reviewed investigation found that students who had high levels of interest in the subject of their major were more likely to graduate in 4 years than those with lower interest in their majors.  The research can be found by logging into your SCSU library access and is called, "Effects of Interest-Major Congruence, Motivation, and Academic Performance on Timely Degree Attainment" authored by Jeff Allen nd Steve Robbins.

1.  Most graduate programs do no require a specific major.

The vast majority of graduate programs do not require a specific major.  Some graduate programs, including many in STEM and health related fields do require certain academic course pre-requisites.  These prerequisites do not necessarily need to be achieved through a major.  With appropriate planning, many required pre-requisite courses can be completed as free electives.  Some majors have many free elective credit requirements, while other have very few.  So if you are considering a graduate program with pre-requisite course requirements, be sure to discuss how those courses can be built into your graduation plan.


2.  Students in humanities majors have higher acceptance rates to medical school than student in biological science majors and they outperform biological sciences majors on the MCATS.

According to recent data released by the Association of American Medical Colleges, students in humanities majors outperform students in the biological sciences majors on the MCATS and have higher acceptance rates than student in biological science majors.  Applicants to any medical program need to complete certain prerequisites courses.  Many medical schools, including Harvard University, have clear language on their admissions website about the value of a broad liberal arts education.