College Majors by Type: Arts, STEM, Business, and More

Choose a college major by discipline

Students taking notes in class
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Choosing a college major was difficult enough when only a handful existed. Now, hundreds of majors are available to choose from—including new and intriguing areas such as exercise studies or informatics. Fortunately, all these college majors fall into six types. Contemplating hundreds of possibilities may cause panic, but skimming six general categories helps winnow things down. Here they are:

Arts-Related Majors

Contrary to popular opinion and operatic plots, art majors do not have to starve. The majors shown here represent a variety of deeply creative and artistic pursuits, each with many specialties. (Asterisks mark the traditionally competitive majors, which may be difficult to get into or require auditions, portfolios, and recommendations.) So if your college kid is interested in one, they should check requirements early.

  • Architectural design*, including architecture and landscape architecture
  • Art* and its many sub-specialties, including graphic design
  • Art history
  • Cinematography*
  • Comparative literature
  • Dance*
  • Design
  • Digital arts* and other multimedia, including video game design
  • Drama, including acting, writing, stage design, costume design, prop production, and theater management
  • Film studies
  • Music*, including performance, composition, history, ethnomusicology, music education, and recording technology

Science and Math-Related Majors

Over the last 30 years, the sciences have exploded into an extravagant array of possibilities. Some, such as bioengineering, can be very competitive to get into. Most of these have stringent GPA and prerequisite coursework requirements. Pre-med students typically choose a major from this list, although statistically, music students stand a better chance of acceptance at med school.​

  • Applied math
  • Agricultural science
  • Animal science
  • Astronomy
  • Biochemistry*
  • Bioengineering*
  • Biology, including marine, micro, molecular and neurobiology
  • Botany
  • Chemistry
  • Criminal science and forensics
  • Earth and space science
  • Entomology
  • Food science, including nutrition science
  • Genetics
  • Geology
  • Kinesiology, including sports medicine and exercise biology
  • Mathematics
  • Medical technology
  • Nursing*
  • Oceanography
  • Physics
  • Physiology
  • Psychology
  • Speech and hearing sciences and disorders
  • Statistics
  • Viticulture and enology, a field that includes vineyard management

Environment-Related Majors

As global climate change takes center stage, these majors will become increasingly important:

  • Aquatic and fishery sciences
  • Atmospheric sciences
  • Biology
  • Ecology
  • Earth and space sciences, including astronomy and geology
  • Environmental studies and policy
  • Environmental science
  • Resource management, including forestry and wildlife management
  • Oceanography and marine biology

Business-Related Majors

Admission to business programs is typically competitive. The offerings include:

  • Accounting and informational systems
  • Business administration
  • Construction management
  • Economics
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Finance
  • Health informatics
  • Industrial engineering
  • Informatics
  • International business
  • Management
  • Marketing

Engineering and Technology Majors

These are all highly competitive majors. Virtually every major on this list, except applied mathematical science, is impacted.

  • Aeronautics and astronautics, the design, testing and production of aircraft, missiles, and spacecraft
  • Applied mathematical sciences
  • Bioengineering
  • Bioresource science and engineering
  • Chemical engineering
  • Civil and environmental engineering
  • Computer engineering and computer science
  • Electrical engineering
  • Technical communication, a field that includes tech writing
  • Materials science and engineering
  • Mechanical engineering

Literature, Language, and Social Science Majors

Just as most premed (pre-dent and pre-pharm) students choose from the sciences list, pre-law students tend to select majors from this list. Asterisks denote more competitive majors.

  • Anthropology
  • Classics
  • City planning*
  • Comparative literature
  • Communication*
  • Criminology
  • Education, including early childhood and special education
  • Economics*
  • English
  • Environmental studies
  • Ethnic and gender studies
  • Foreign language and literature
  • Geography
  • History
  • Informatics
  • International studies
  • Library science
  • Linguistics
  • Philosophy
  • Political science
  • Psychology
  • Religious studies
  • Rhetoric
  • Social justice
  • Social welfare
  • Sociology