I thought it would be interesting to look at the kids are majoring in in college nowadays. Turns out the data was easy to find. Census data shows the number of Bachelors Degrees earned by Field. You can find it in table 291 in the education data on the statistical abstract [ excel file] or [PDF].
Here is a side by side comparison of the % of degrees per major / field from 1980 and 2007 :
|Engineering and engineering technologies||7.50%||5.40%|
|Social sciences and history||11.20%||10.80%|
|Biological and biomedical sciences||5.00%||4.90%|
|Visual and performing arts||4.40%||5.60%|
|Communication, journalism, and related programs \2||3.10%||5.10%|
|Computer and information sciences||1.20%||2.80%|
|Liberal arts and sciences, general studies, and humanities||2.50%||2.90%|
There is a large pile of degrees in the "other" category. I didn't feel like listing all the dozens of separate degree options out there, so I picked out major categories and the most popular choices to highlight.
Heres a few things that I see from the trend between 1980 and 2007:
Engineering down but Computer up : Engineering degrees dropped 28% as a portion of total. However at the same time Computer degrees rose 131%. In 1980 we had 7.5% of degrees in engineering and 1.2% in computers for combined 8.7% and in 2007 the combined amount was 8.2%. Overall between Engineering and Computer combined the portion is marginally down.
Education down significantly: The % of degrees offered in education dropped 45% from 1980 to 2007. I'm not sure but this may be partially explained by some people going to Masters degree programs for education. But the masters degrees in education are going down as a % of the whole as well.
Psychology, performing arts, communications & journalism degrees growing: The % of people getting psychology degrees rose from 4.5% to 5.9% up 30%. Visual and performing arts went from 4.4% to 5.6% which is growth of 27%. Communications and journalism went from 3.1% to 5.1% so it grew at 67%. Combined in 2007 these degrees accounted for 16.6% (1 in 6) of all the bachelor degrees earned. Its too bad that the jobs and demand for these fields aren't growing as fast as peoples interest. There are FAR too many people getting degrees in these fields compared to the number of jobs available or the demand for people trained in these areas.
Here is another look where I've piled the degrees into some broader categories:
|business, engineer, scientist||33.70%||34.60%|
|arts and social||25.70%||30.30%|
Arts and social includes the combination of : Social sciences and history, Psychology, Visual and performing arts, Communication, journalism, and related programs, Liberal arts and sciences, general studies, and humanities The 'business, engineer, scientist' group includes Business, Engineering and engineering technologies, Biological and biomedical sciences and Computer and information sciences
Over all it seems that interest in business, engineering and sciences is marginally up if you look at the % of degrees given. The % of degrees earned in education is down.
The portion of people pursuing psychology, arts, communication/ journalism is up significantly. With all due respect to individuals in those over crowded fields I think this is a bad thing if more and more students are joining already over crowded career fields.
[edit 4/13/11 : I realized the table formatting was not showing all the columns so I fixed them ]