Degree vs. Major – What’s the Difference between a Major and Degree?

What is the difference between a degree vs. major? Do you have to have a major in order to get a degree?

What’s the Difference between a Major and Degree?

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With the confusion surrounding the definition of a major vs. degree, having a solid understanding of the relationship between the two may enable you to make wise decisions about your education.

  • Related Guide: 30 Best Bachelor Degrees for the Future

What Is a Major in College?

What Is a Major in College

To earn a bachelor’s degree, you must declare a “major.” A major is simply a “major area of focus” for your college studies.

  • All students are required to complete about 40 college classes to earn a bachelor’s degree.
  • Of those 40 classes, your college major will be about 12 classes.

Sounds crazy that you spend such a small time on your area of focus, right?

Here’s the reason:

Universities want to make sure that you receive a broad education that includes history, government, composition, natural sciences, ethics, and so on. These requirements are called “General Education” requirements. Typically, you spend your first two years in college completing these General Education requirements.

Here’s a simple formula, your bachelor’s degree is comprised of the following:

General Education requirements + Your College Major (Area of Focus) + Electives = Bachelor’s degree in Your Area of Focus.

For example, I majored in Business Administration.

I completed all my general education classes like history and math, plus all the classes required in my college major like business law, economics, accounting, and so on. Once I completed all of these classes, I received my Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration.

College Major =  The Major Area of Focus for Your College Studies

To give you a concrete example, let’s say that you want your college major to be Biology since you want to go to medical school. So, your college major is biology and when you graduate in four years, your college degree will be:  Bachelor of Science in Biology.

To earn your Bachelor’s degree in Biology, you will likely have to complete some variation of these general education requirements (around 20 classes):

  • Writing / Composition
  • Mathematics
  • Quantitative Reasoning
  • Ethics / Diversity
  • Communication
  • Social Sciences
  • Natural Sciences
  • Global Awareness

Once you finish all your general education requirements, you get the opportunity to really focus on your college major.

Your college major is usually about 12 classes. Most classes are 3 credit hours, so your college major will be about 36 credit hours.

college majors

A major is made up of 36 credit hours with a predetermined number of required courses in higher-level courses. These courses are usually numbered in the 300 to 400 range. For example, if your major was biology, the course BIO 370 would be a high-level biology course that would fulfill one of the requirements of your Biology major.

There are a wide variety of majors available to study during your undergraduate career, as you can see in this list below of some of the most popular majors.

Examples of college majors:

  • Anthropology
  • Business Administration
  • Chemical Engineering
  • Communications
  • Computer Science
  • English Language and Literature
  • Government/Political Science

A major sets the focus and direction of an undergraduate degree, with all the other courses aligning around this core.

What is a Degree in College?

College diploma with honors cords

A degree and a major work hand-in-hand, with the major providing the focus while the degree provides an overarching structure and direction for your undergraduate studies. In order to complete any type of college degree , it is required to complete a major as well as other additional courses to ensure that you receive a well-rounded education.

Some of the more popular undergraduate degrees can be seen in the list below:

  • Bachelor’s in Biology
  • Bachelor’s in Business
  • Bachelor’s in Communication
  • Bachelor’s in Computer Science
  • Bachelor’s in Education
  • Bachelor’s in Engineering
  • Bachelor’s in Nursing

These are just a few prime examples of different types of bachelor degrees that you may earn in order to fulfill your education goals.

An undergraduate degree allows you to partner the specialization of your major and with courses in other disciplines that build on and support the concepts you have learned in your major.

Degree vs. Major – What’s the Difference Between a Degree and a Major?

It is tempting to want to dissect and separate college degrees from a major and point out how they are distinctly different and in no way the same. But it is not that easy.

Similar to the difference between a college and a university , a major and a college degree are closely linked, though they are not the same thing.

Let’s take a look at this degree plan for a Bachelor of Science in Psychology. If this was your degree plan, psychology would be your major. Your final degree when it was awarded to you would be a Bachelor of Science in Psychology.

4 year psychology degree plan

As you can see, the bachelor’s degree requires that you take a certain number of General Education (GE) courses. Once you’ve finished most of those, you can progress into your major courses (psychology). Once you complete all of these requirements, then you may be awarded your bachelor’s degree.

Another way to look at it is how a major gives you the tools in your belt, while your degree is the tool-belt that provides the support and structure for those tools.

College Credits Required

College Credits Required

A major differs from an undergraduate degree in the number of college credits that are required for completion.

A major usually requires about 36 credits depending on the requirements of each university.

A college degree such as a bachelor’s degree is usually 120 credits, which includes the 36 credits of your major along with additional courses to provide you with a broad, interdisciplinary education.

If you want to spend more time studying your college major and less time in class completing general education requirements, there are a few ways you may earn college credits quickly , including taking online classes that last only 6 weeks .

A Major is Required for a College Degree

If you intend to graduate with a bachelor’s degree that has equipped you for a career in a particular field, then it is essential to complete a major rather than dabble in whatever courses you like for a 4 year time period. It is nearly impossible to earn a bachelor’s without the formal structure of General Education requirements + College Major + Electives = Bachelor’s degree.

Not sure which major to pursue? Here’s a list of some of the most difficult majors and easiest college majors .

How Does a Major Support a College Degree?

Without a declared major, a college degree such as a bachelor’s is just a collection of courses in a variety of disciplines. However, with the structure and support of a clearly outlined major, your undergraduate education is transformed into a Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice or a Bachelor of Business Administration, etc.

Simply put, the 36 credits in your major are what distinguishes a Computer Science degree from a Political Sciences degree, or an Anthropology from a Psychology degree.

College Major vs. Minor Degree – What’s the Difference between a College Major and College Minor?

College Major vs. Minor Degree

As the name suggests, the difference between a college major vs. minor is the breadth of study. A major is the core focus of an undergraduate program, with 36 credits in courses that meet accrediting standards for a specific area, such as psychology.

In contrast, a minor is made up of less than 20 credit hours and often is more related to your personal interests, such as a minor in a foreign language while a major could be in chemical engineering.

What Is a Course of Study Meaning in College?

course of study in college

A course of study in college means the schedule for how to complete a college program in a set amount of years. It includes all of the classes you need to take, along with how many electives you can choose. There’s usually flexibility in the order in which you take your classes, though some will have prerequisites.

What Is the Definition of a College Major?

A college major is your desired area of focus in your studies. It’s what you earn your degree in. Some examples are Business Administration, Early Elementary Education, Information Technology, and Spanish Language.

What Is the Definition of a College Degree?

Definition of a College Degree

The definition of a college degree is a qualification awarded to students after completing the requirements for a specific course of study. In the case of a bachelor’s degree, the two most common types of degrees are the Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science.

What Does a Bachelor Degree Mean?

A bachelor’s degree means an undergraduate degree usually composed of 120 credit hours, awarded by colleges and universities after completing a course of study. Generally, it takes 4 years of study to complete a bachelor’s degree, but there are a number of accelerated degree programs offered online .

What Is the Difference between a Major and a Degree?

Major vs Degree

The difference between a major and a degree is that a major is the focus of a course of study comprised of 36 credit hours in a specific field, while a degree is the overall course of study as dictated by the university.

What Is the Highest Degree in College?

The highest degree in college is the Doctorate degree level, with Associate’s, Bachelor’s, and Master’s degrees preceding a Doctorate degree. A doctorate could be a PhD or other terminal degree, such as a DBA (Doctor of Business Administration) or EdD (Doctorate in Education).

In College, What Is Your Major?

Your major in college is the direction or focus that you study in your undergraduate program, with specific courses making up a 36 credit major. If you want to study Computer Science, for example, that is your major. Psychology students take Psychology as their major.

What Is a Degree Program?

Degree Program in college

A degree program is the course of study designed to meet specific objectives that will culminate in being awarded a degree, such as a bachelor degree. It’s the school’s requirements and class offerings you need to graduate with that degree.

major in education meaning

What Is an Education Degree?

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Are you ready to discover your college program?

Earning an education degree can lead to a career as a teacher, assistant, counselor, or administrator, working with with learners of all ages.

An education degree prepares students for careers in teaching. Pursuing an online education degree offers added flexibility and convenience when compared to a traditional degree, allowing graduates to enter the teaching profession or advance in the field on their own terms.

Education degrees vary in length and emphasis, and many include both coursework and practical components that meet state licensure and certification requirements. Students who want to work with young children can focus their studies on elementary and middle school education, while learners looking to teach adolescent and adult students can pursue comparable options.

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What kinds of education degrees are there.

Associate degrees in education help students establish the fundamental knowledge and skills needed to work as aides and assistants in classrooms. These programs also cover the general education requirements needed to trasnfer into bachelor's degrees.

Most states require students to have at least a bachelor's degree in education to become a certified or licensed teacher, and some states require a master's degree. With a graduate degree in education, learners can also advance to administrative and counseling roles or develop expertise in reading, special education, and instruction.

Certificate Program in Education

A certificate in education typically takes less than one year to complete. Undergraduate certificate programs prepare students to work as teaching aides and classroom assistants with children and young learners. An undergraduate certificate in education may also accompany a bachelor's degree. For example, students studying mathematics or science may opt to add a teaching certificate to their credentials.

Graduate certificates supplement existing teaching knowledge and skills, often by emphasizing a specialty. Graduate students can earn certificates in areas like administration, online teaching, or curriculum and instruction to expand their professional opportunities.

Associate Degree in Education

An associate degree in education typically spans two years, but students can often complete online degrees in less time. Coursework covers childhood psychology, principles of education, and classroom management. Some associate degrees in education include specialized coursework in early childhood or elementary education.

Individuals who want to become childcare workers, homeschool teachers, or substitute teachers benefit from associate degrees in education. Learners with associate degrees in education can also transfer into bachelor's degrees in the field.

What's the Difference Between an AA and an AS in Education?

Both associate of arts (AA) and associate of science (AS) degrees in education help learners transition into four-year bachelor's programs upon completion. The AA is an ideal path if you're seeking a general introduction to the discipline of education with a traditional liberal arts education, while the AS focuses more on math and science courses, making it an attractive option for those who plan to teach in STEM-related fields.

Bachelor's Degree in Education

Also referred to as a bachelor's degree in teaching, these education programs prepare students for careers as instructors. Bachelor's degrees in education include general education coursework, specialized classes, and practical requirements that train students to work in classrooms at elementary, middle, and high schools. Bachelor-level education degrees may also integrate discipline-specific classes in areas such as mathematics and science.

Most bachelor's degrees in education take just over four years to complete, plus a student teaching requirement. Bachelor's degrees often meet state and national requirements for graduates to pursue certification, though some states require a master's degree.

What's the Difference Between a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Science?

Both bachelor of arts (BA) and bachelor of science (BS) degrees in education cover fundamental coursework in principles of education, child psychology, and tools and techniques of instruction. Students enrolled in BA and BS programs also both complete practical requirements and earn their degrees in just over four years.

The distinction between the two comes down to content. A BS in education emphasizes mathematics, science, and research, while a BA in education offers a broader liberal arts curriculum. A BA in education fully qualifies an individual to teach across arts and sciences, while a BS in education is best suited to learners who plan to teach a science-related discipline.

Master's Degree in Education

A master's degree in education includes two years of coursework, but students can often earn education master's degrees on abbreviated timelines through accelerated pathways.

Students pursuing master's degrees in education are usually already practicing teachers and administrators. Education professionals can earn a master's degree to advance their qualifications for administrative roles, shift into counseling careers, or add additional disciplines to their teaching expertise. Master's specializations include adult education and training, leadership in educational organizations, and teaching English as a second language.

A master's degree in education administration can lead to positions as assistant principals or principals, while a curriculum and instruction master's degree in education leads to work as a district curriculum specialist.

What's the Difference Between a Master's in Teaching and a Master of Education?

Most schools offer master's in teaching (MIT) programs as master of arts (MA) degrees with an emphasis in teaching. During an MIT, students build practical skills and gain subject-specific knowledge. Not all MIT programs require applicants to have previous educational experience, though some do.

Current teachers and other education professionals seeking careers outside of classroom instruction should consider pursuing master of education (M.Ed.) programs. By exploring the practice of education itself, M.Ed. enrollees gain insight into and expertise in the theories, techniques, and policies that underlie teaching pedagogy, leading to careers in administration or consultation.

Doctoral Degree in Education

A doctoral education program typically spans at least three years. Students complete core coursework, participate in practical requirements, and carry out research as part of either a doctor of philosophy (Ph.D.) or a doctor of education (Ed.D.).

With a doctorate in education, individuals can work as school administrators, school district superintendents, and executives within education-based organizations. A doctoral program in education also prepares students to teach at colleges and universities, work as education researchers in government or organization settings, and take on leadership roles at educational institutions.

What's the Difference Between an Ed.D. and Ph.D. in Education?

An Ed.D. is more policy-oriented, while a Ph.D. focuses more on research. Both degrees can lead to to administrative positions in schools, school districts, or higher learning institutions.

As part of an Ed.D., students may have opportunities to specialize in educational technology, reading and literacy , and special education. Ph.D. programs in education are more likely to offer concentrations in higher education, international education, and educational psychology.

What Can You Do With a College Degree in Education?

A college degree in education opens many career paths . Individuals can enter the teaching profession, advance to managerial and administrative roles, or branch off to explore other education-related fields.

Individuals with degrees in education most commonly work inside the classroom — both in person and online. With a degree in education, individuals can work with young learners or adult students, depending on their preferences and credentials.

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Elementary Education

A career in elementary education involves teaching students in grades 1-8. With an education degree, individuals gain the knowledge and skills needed to create and edit lesson plans, manage classrooms, and enforce school rules and regulations. Elementary school teachers also observe and assess student performance, working alongside administrators and parents to provide effective instruction.

In some instances, elementary-level teachers teach specific topics, like language arts, mathematics, and other general disciplines. They may also specialize in reading, science, or physical education. However, most elementary teachers work in a variety of topics.

State and national requirements for teachers vary by location and grade level, but primary education licensure typically requires at least a bachelor's-level education as well as subject matter certification.

School Counseling

School counselors work with individual students or groups to help them cope with personal, academic, emotional, and social issues. They assess students, perform tests, and analyze data to determine learners' strengths and weaknesses and design education plans to help them.

School counselors may implement school guidance programs, offer lessons and instruction within the classroom, and collaborate with teachers and administrators about the needs of learners. In high school and postsecondary settings, school counselors may also provide career guidance.

To become a school counselor , candidates need a master's degree in school counseling. Master's programs train students in areas such as communication and interpersonal skills, crisis counseling, and assessment.

School Administration

School administrators oversee daily operations at learning institutions. They work with teachers, staff, and other education professionals to enforce policies and regulations, implement effective instruction practices, and ensure student safety.

Principals, assistant principals, superintendents, and administrators are experts in educational theory and policy, often communicating with parents and members of the community and serving as educational leaders.

A school administrator needs at least a master's degree in education. Many specialized master's degrees focus specifically on administrative and managerial aspects of education, as do doctoral programs in education.

What Kind of Salary Can I Earn With an Education Degree?

According to Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projections, education employment should continue to grow from 2019-2029. Salaries for individuals with education degrees vary by qualifications and field.

Individuals with certificates or associate degrees in education who work as teaching assistants earn less than teachers and other professionals who hold bachelor's degrees in education. Teachers in elementary, middle, and high schools all earn comparable salaries, while school administrators reported significantly higher wages in 2019.

Professional Organizations

Accreditation for education programs.

When choosing a college or university, students need to determine the accreditation status of prospective institutions. Schools can hold either national or regional accreditation — a distinction that can influence financial aid, transfer options, and overall educational standards. For education degrees, regional accreditation is preferred.

Individual departments and programs also receive programmatic accreditation. Accrediting bodies for education programs include the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education . Specialized graduate programs in school counseling may hold accreditation through accrediting bodies like the Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you become a teacher with an online degree.

You can become a teacher with an online degree. However, students must still complete in-person practicum work.

How Can I Get My Teaching Degree Fast?

Online degrees in teaching are a good option for individuals who want to become teachers quickly and can afford accelerated enrollment. An accelerated online bachelor's degree in teaching spans fewer than four years and prepares learners to obtain licensure and certification.

What Types of Education Degrees Are There?

Undergraduate and graduate degrees prepare graduates for positions in education. Associate degrees lead to entry-level roles, like teaching aide, while bachelor's and master's degrees pave the way to teaching and administrative positions. Graduate degrees in education also allow learners to further specialize and can lead to careers like school counselor.

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Melissa Sartore

Melissa Sartore holds a Ph.D. in history from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her BA and MA in history are from Western Illinois University. A medievalist by training, she has published on outlawry in medieval England with additional publications on outlaws in popular culture and across geographic and historical boundaries.

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Education Major Guide

major in education meaning

As an Education Major, you could build toward a career as a classroom teacher, guidance counselor, special education expert, district administrator, university professor and much more. Majoring in education can open the door to a wide range of career prospects. Read on to find out what you can expect as an Education Major.

The education major is among the most popular college degree programs both because it provides a clear pathway to a career in education, and because it is extremely versatile. Be aware that if you are interested in becoming a public school classroom teacher for grades K-12, you will need to earn a bachelor’s degree from a recognized teaching education program in order to sit for your state license. Moreover, some states or school districts may also require public school classroom teachers to hold an advanced degree. If you wish to teach at the post-secondary level, you must earn an advanced degree.

As you pursue a major in education, think about the setting and subject area where you wish to apply your skills, as well as the age group you wish to work with. This should help you find the best area of focus in your education major.

If you’re ready to earn this degree at one of the most prestigious schools in the world, get started with a look at the Most Influential Schools in Education .

Or read on to find out what you can expect as an education major.

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5 reasons to major in education, 1. education majors are always in demand..

The Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that rising enrollment in elementary, middle, and high schools across the U.S. will increase the demand for teachers at every level of compulsory education over the next decade. The BLS does warn though that this demand will vary by region. As an aspiring educator, take stock of the career opportunities in your community and region.

2. Education majors have plenty of opportunities for upward mobility.

As an educator, you can go as far as your highest degree allows. If you’re looking for entry-level work in the field, an associate’s degree could help you get your foot in the door. You can continue on to a bachelor’s degree (and sit for your state license) if you wish to become a classroom teacher; earn a master’s degree to become a principal, administrator, or post-secondary instructor; and ultimately earn a PhD if you wish to become a full professor.

3. Education majors enjoy job security and strong benefits.

Once hired as a public school teacher, you’ll begin on your path toward tenure. Tenure provides you with inbuilt job protection against unfounded dismissal or dismissal based on budget cuts. Moreover, teachers are represented by a powerful labor union, which creates a strong negotiating position for fair pay, health coverage, retirement benefits and, of course, summers off!

4. Education majors make a positive difference in the lives of students and families.

Career prospects aside, the vast majority of educators enter into this profession because it’s the best way to make a direct and positive impact on others. Whether you hope to help young learners read, give struggling students hope for a better future, provide adult learners with practical skills, or produce innovations in online education, majoring in education can give you the tools to create opportunity for others.

5. 5. Education majors are influential.

Education allows us to reach our fullest potential, to seize opportunity, to better our own lives. Leaders in education have a profound influence on the students whose lives they touch—both those who work one-on-one in the classroom to forge tomorrow’s leaders and those who produce the innovations and ideas that impact the lives of thousands. Today, top influencers in education are focusing their efforts on the theory of multiple intelligences , examining critical race theory and its relation to education debt in America , the modern small schools movement , and much more.

What Kinds of Education Degrees Are There?

The type and level of education degree you earn will connect directly to your eligibility for certain professional opportunities. For instance, in order to sit for your public school teaching license, most states require that you have earned at least a bachelor’s degree with an approved teaching education program. In order to teach at the post-secondary level, you would need to earn an advanced degree:

  • Associate of Education: The associate level degree in education will typically require 1 to 2 years for completion. This foundational degree can create entry-level opportunities in pre-school education, teaching assistance, or as part of a private education company. It can also give you an affordable head-start on your bachelor’s degree.
  • Bachelor of Education: The bachelor’s degree in education is among the most popular four-year college majors. This is because the bachelor’s degree is the basic threshold for becoming licensed to teach at a public school in most states. Your bachelor’s degree will provide foundational education in teaching theories, instructional methodologies, and developmental psychology. Many education majors also choose a minor, or a double major, in a subject area where they plan to teach. Therefore, an aspiring history teacher may pursue a double major in education and history. Some education programs may allow you to combine pursuit of your bachelor’s and master’s degrees into a single 5-year program. Find out if the education department at your college offers this option.
  • Master of Education: While a bachelor’s degree is required to earn your teaching license in most states, many schools and districts may actually require you to have earned a master’s degree in order to qualify for classroom teaching. This is not true everywhere, but earning a master’s in education will significantly expand your employment opportunities. This 2-year degree can also provide a pathway for professional advancement into a leadership role at the departmental level or as a principal or administrator. As noted above, you may be able to complete this program in less time if your school provides a combination bachelor’s and master’s degree program. If you are already employed as an educator, your school or district may be willing to help pay for your master’s degree.
  • PhD in Education: The doctoral is a terminal degree in education, and will typically require between 3 and 5 years for completion. This degree is recommended if you are interested in working as a professional researcher or pursuing a professorship in teaching and education.

*Note: Many, but not all, degree programs offer the choice between Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees. Likewise, many, but not all, advanced degree programs offer a choice between Master of Arts, and Master of Science degrees. In most cases, the primary difference is the diversity of course offerings. “Science” degree courses will focus almost entirely on the major discipline, with a deep dive into a specific concentration, including laboratory, clinical or practicum experience. An “Arts” degree will provide a more well-rounded curriculum which includes both core/concentration courses and a selection of humanities and electives. The type of degree you choose will depend both on your school’s offerings and your career/educational goals. Moreover, there are sometimes numerous variations in the way that colleges name and categorize majors. The degree types identified here above are some of the common naming variations, but may not be all-encompassing.

Thinking of a graduate degree in education? Check out What Can I Do With a Master’s Degree in Education? for more information on obtaining a graduate degree in this field.

What Are Some Popular Education Concentrations?

Your “concentration” refers to a specific area of focus within your major. The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) provides a complete listing of college programs and courses (Classification for Instructional Programs), as sourced from The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). According to IPEDS , the following are among the most popular education concentrations:

  • Curriculum and Instruction
  • Educational Administration and Supervision
  • Educational/Instructional Media Design
  • Educational Assessment, Evaluation, and Research
  • Early Childhood Education and Testing
  • Special Education and Teaching
  • Student Counseling and Personnel Services
  • Teacher Education and Professional Development
  • Adult Literacy Tutor/Instructor

What Courses Will I Take as an Education Major?

Your concentration will determine many of the courses you’ll take as an education major. Depending on your focus, you may take a larger number of courses in a particular area such as subject-specific pedagogy, counseling courses, or educational leadership courses. Likewise, most education majors are required to take a number of requisite courses on foundational topics such as instructional planning and early childhood development. Beyond that, the following are among the common subjects that you’ll likely study on the way to an education degree:

  • Introduction to Instructional Design
  • Adult Learning Theories
  • Teaching for Cognitive Growth
  • Project-Based Learning
  • Science and Engineering Programs for Teachers
  • Foundations of Positive Psychology
  • Learning to Teach Online
  • Literacy Education

What Can I Do With a Major in Education?

Naturally, majoring in education is the starting point if you wish to teach in the classroom. But it’s also the logical starting place if you hope to become a guidance counselor, high school principal, or college professor, as well as a good place to launch a career in educational technology, online teaching, college consulting, and much more. Your education major can lead to a wide range of career opportunities, including these top jobs:

  • High School Teachers
  • Middle School Teachers
  • Career and Technical Education Teachers
  • Postsecondary Teachers
  • Special Education Teachers
  • Teacher Assistants
  • Preschool Teachers
  • Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers

If you’re still not sure what to study in college, take a look at our roundup of some of the most popular college majors. This comprehensive resource is perfect for students who struggle with choosing a college major.

Check out The Most Influential Schools in Education and get started on your path to an Education degree.

And if you’re shopping for the right college, be sure that you’ve reviewed our Resources on critical issues like Accreditation , Scholarships , Financial Aid , and more!

We also offer comprehensive Career Guidance for students at every stage in the educational journey.

Or get tips on studying, student life, and much more with a look at our Student Resources .


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What is an Education Major and is it Right for Me?

Do you love helping people and spreading knowledge? Are you passionate about a specific academic subject (or subjects)? If so, an education major might be for you.

What is an education major?

An education major is designed to help college students develop the skills to teach others. Combining the ability to create engaging lessons with the desire to spread knowledge, this major is all about learning the most effective ways to become a teacher. Typical classes in this major include educational psychology, history of education and public policy classes.

Is it right for me?

Fast-moving and always changing, the field of education is best suited for someone who welcomes challenges and looks for variety in their work. An educator’s job never stops; you can never truly know where your influence on others will begin or end and choosing this as a career means that you are dedicated to continually helping others grow intellectually and socially.

Here are some questions to ask yourself when deciding if an education major is right for you:

  • Am I creative? Do I enjoy looking at something from a variety of perspectives and discovering ways to connect divergent topics?
  • Am I curious? Do I constantly seek out new technologies, research and ideas?
  • Am I communicative? Do I listen with the intent to understand others when they are speaking and then find ways to relay information for a diverse population in a manner that they can relate to?
  • Am I conscientious? Do I make a concerted effort to know the purpose behind my actions and reflect on ways to continually grow?
  • Am I compassionate? Do I empathize with others and seek to improve the state of the world for all around me?

If you responded “Yes” to all of the above questions, then being an education major might be for you.

What can I do with an education degree?

Although teaching is the obvious career path for those in the field of education, education majors are not limited to teaching once they receive their degree. Education majors can look into positions and graduate degrees involving:

  • library sciences
  • instructional technology
  • special education
  • administration
  • curriculum design
  • educational development
  • managerial training

What do educators earn?

Although this is probably not surprising, most careers in education don’t pay a great deal of money . The average salary for an elementary or high school teacher is $45,000. However, the average salary goes up significantly for educators working at the university level, with full-time professors earning an average of $114,000.

Next, learn more about this college major such as What Types of Skills Are Best for an Education Major? and get more career tips for internships and entry-level jobs such as How Much Should I be Paid at an Entry-Level Job ?

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major in education meaning

Major: Education

What colleges offer a major in education.

Some people decide to become an educator after taking courses with teachers who engaged and enriched them. Others enjoy contributing to the minds and growth of students. Whatever one’s decision is based on, pursuing and obtaining a career in education is rewarding. Educators impact society, inspire students, spark curiosity, and cultivate a passion for learning.

Education is a career rooted in reciprocity. You’ll teach others and learn from them too. 

What does an Education major study?

Undergraduate studies in Education such as those listed below will prepare you to work with children, adolescents, and adults.

  • Child Development
  • Classroom Management
  • Comparative Education
  • Education and Public Policy
  • Ethnicity in Education
  • Mathematics
  • Planning, Instruction, and Assessment
  • Social Studies

What can I do with an Education degree?

Your studies will help you develop transferable skills such as communication, strategic planning, problem-solving, and critical thinking. With an Education degree, you’re equipped for jobs such as the following:

  • Adapted Physical Education Specialists
  • Adult Education and Literacy Teachers
  • Elementary Special Education Teachers
  • Kindergarten Special Education Teachers
  • Middle School Career and Technical Education Teachers 

Specializations for an Education major:

  • English, Language Arts, Reading
  • Math  
  • Science  
  • Elementary Education
  • Social Studies 
  • Early Childhood Education

What are the requirements for an Education degree? 

Students must complete the required core and elective courses for graduation. Besides this, students enhance their employment prospects through hands-on experience. They can, for example, observe teachers in classroom settings and learn how to lead their own classes as student teachers.  

Education and Training Career Cluster

Learn more about careers in Education and Training.

Major: Social Sciences

Related ap courses, find colleges with an education major.

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Education Major Overview

major in education meaning

Zach Skillings is the Scholarships360 Newsletter Editor. He specializes in college admissions and strives to answer important questions about higher education. When he’s not contributing to Scholarships360, Zach writes about travel, music, film, and culture. His work has been published in Our State Magazine, Ladygunn Magazine, The Nocturnal Times, and The Lexington Dispatch. Zach graduated from Elon University with a degree in Cinema and Television Arts.

Learn about our editorial policies

major in education meaning

Maria Geiger is Director of Content at Scholarships360. She is a former online educational technology instructor and adjunct writing instructor. In addition to education reform, Maria’s interests include viewpoint diversity, blended/flipped learning, digital communication, and integrating media/web tools into the curriculum to better facilitate student engagement. Maria earned both a B.A. and an M.A. in English Literature from Monmouth University, an M. Ed. in Education from Monmouth University, and a Virtual Online Teaching Certificate (VOLT) from the University of Pennsylvania.

Education Major Overview

If you enjoy sharing knowledge and helping others, you may want to consider an education major. Students in this field develop the skills needed to become teachers – one of the most important professions in our society. In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about majoring in education. 

Also see: How to choose a major

What is an education major?

Education majors study how people learn and how to best teach them. They seek to understand the various influences that affect students’ abilities to learn, and how to utilize effective teaching practices. Education majors may focus on a specific age group such as early childhood, elementary, middle, or high school. They may also specialize in a particular subject such as literature, math, or science. Most students major in education to become teachers, although there’s other career options as well. We’ll cover job possibilities later on. 

Coursework to expect

Through their coursework, education majors develop the skills needed to become effective teachers. Course topics include educational psychology , child development, school health, and safety issues, and contemporary issues in education. Students also take coursework in curriculum development and learn how to develop effective lesson plans. It’s common for students to choose a track specifically tailored to a particular age range or subject. Many programs also offer hands-on teaching experiences in community- and school-based settings. 

Below are some potential courses you may encounter as an education major:

  • Educational Psychology
  • Sociology of Education
  • Learning and Teaching with Technology
  • Educational Assessment
  • Student Teaching
  • Teaching in 21st Century Classrooms 
  • Teaching in Middle and Secondary Schools 
  • Foundations of Special Education 
  • Education and Society 
  • Early Childhood Language and Literacy 

Student teaching 

Student teaching is a hands-on learning experience that education majors typically complete while obtaining their teaching degree. During student teaching, you will intern in a classroom or another setting in order to gain true experience in the field. These experiences are typically unpaid and can last anywhere from 14 weeks to 1 year. 

During student teaching, you will typically be paired with a certified educator who will work with and support you throughout your student teaching experience. You will have the opportunity to put your knowledge from your major into practice during this time. 

Opportunities after graduation

Although teaching is the obvious career path for education majors, it’s not the only option. Education majors can also pursue positions and graduate programs related to the following areas: 

  • Library sciences
  • Instructional technology
  • Special education
  • Museum curation 
  • Administration
  • Curriculum design
  • Managerial training

Also see: Everything you need to know about TEACH Grants

Jobs you can get with an education degree

Whether you want to teach preschoolers or college students, there’s a range of job possibilities for those with an education degree. If you choose to venture outside the realm of traditional teaching, other career paths include counseling, library sciences, museum curation, and school administration. Below are some popular career choices for education majors, along with median annual salaries according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics : 

1. K-12 teacher

K-12 teachers educate students in public and private schools, working with grades ranging from kindergarten to high school. They typically specialize in a specific subject area or age group. Elementary school teachers cover a range of subjects, while middle and high school teachers focus on fewer subjects.

2022 Median Pay: $62,360 per year Projected Growth (2022-2032): 1%

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics  

2. College professor

Professors teach at the college/university level. Just like K-12 teachers, they typically specialize in a specific subject area. In addition to their teaching responsibilities, many professors conduct research and publish scholarly papers or books. 

2022 Median Pay: $80,840 per year Projected Growth (2022-2032) : 8% 

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

3. School and career counselors

School counselors help students develop academic and social skills to prepare them for life after graduation. They’re employed by both public and private K-12 schools, as well as colleges and universities. Career counselors help people explore occupations and make career decisions. 

2022 Median Pay: $60,140 per year Projected Growth (2012-2032) : 5%

4. Librarian

Librarians help patrons find books and other resources, conduct research, and set up systems for cataloging and shelving books. They’re typically employed by local governments, universities, and K-12 schools. 

2022 Median Pay: $61,660 per year Projected Growth (2022-2032) : 3% 

5. Instructional coordinator

Instructional coordinators oversee school curriculums and teaching standards. They develop educational material, implement it with teachers and principals, and assess its effectiveness. They also observe teachers in the classroom, review student test data, and conduct teacher training workshops. 

2022 Median Pay: $66,490 per year Projected Growth (2022-2032) : 2%

6. Archivists and curators

Archivists catalog and preserve historically valuable documents, while curators oversee collections of historical items. They typically work for institutions such as museums, governments, and colleges. Job responsibilities include setting up exhibits and providing educational services to the public. 

2022 Median Pay: $53,420 per year

Projected Growth (2022-2032) : 10%

Online learning

It is important to consider the nature of our education system currently. Online learning has had a significant impact on the field of education, including education majors. Now, education majors may be taught how to use online platforms to help their students learn. 

Additionally, education majors may even have some classes online or obtain their degree through an online program. Therefore, it may be important to become familiar with online platforms if you are considering becoming an education major. 

Further reading: Online vs. in-person college: Which is right for you?

How do I know if this major is right for me? 

If you’re considering a major in education, ask yourself the following questions: 

  • Are you patient, compassionate, and willing to take on challenges? 
  • Do you enjoy gaining and sharing knowledge? 
  • Are you passionate about helping young people achieve their potential? 
  • Do you seek to improve the state of the world around you? 

If you answered yes to most of these questions, then an education major could be right for you!

Final thoughts

Overall, an education major is a study that focuses on preparing students to become teachers and educators in a variety of environments. Typically, education majors are interested in becoming K-12 or special education teachers. However, there are an abundance of careers available to education majors that are not just teachers such as a librarian or a school counselor. 

When pursuing an education major, often you will need to participate in student teaching which provides hands-on opportunities to apply skills in real-life classroom settings. 

After graduating with a degree in education, often you will need to obtain a teaching certificate or license which can vary by state. Typically, you can obtain licensure by passing exams and meeting other requirements set by the education authorities.

Education majors can lead to careers in teaching at various levels and in a variety of subjects. However, the specific focus and requirements of an education major can vary depending on the institution and the level of education being pursued. 

Keep reading:

  • Top scholarships for teachers
  • Top education major scholarships
  • How to find special education scholarships
  • Public service loan forgiveness: What it is and how it can help you

Frequently asked questions about the education major

How long does it take to complete an education major degree, what certifications are required for education majors, can education majors work in fields other than teaching, scholarships360 recommended.

major in education meaning

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The Many Types of Education Degrees: How to Pick Your Path

Education degrees aren't just for classroom teachers.

Education Degrees: Picking Your Path

major in education meaning

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Though some education degree programs focus on teacher training, others concentrate on education administration, policy or technology. Some education majors explore the unique challenges faced by rural or urban schools.

One common misconception about education degrees is that they're only useful for future classroom teachers.

However, education degrees can lead to all sorts of careers: They're often held by education administrators, policymakers, researchers, technologists, curriculum designers, learning scientists, school counselors or psychologists , standardized test-makers and textbook authors. Staffers at education-oriented government agencies at the local, state and federal level – such as the U.S. Department of Education – frequently have academic degrees in education as well, and the same is true for representatives of education-related charities and nonprofit organizations.

Here's what you need to know about the hierarchy of education degrees and how to choose the right one.

How to Tell if an Education Degree Is a Good Fit

An interest in helping others learn and a desire to work with children are common and compelling reasons for studying education, says Daniel A. Domenech, the executive director of AASA, The School Superintendents Association. Education majors tend to earn less than people who receive a comparable level of training in other fields, so a majority of people who become educators do so for non-financial reasons, he adds.

According to an August 2022 report from the Economic Policy Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank that analyzes working conditions for low-income and middle-income workers in the U.S., the pay disparity between teachers and similarly educated professionals reached an all-time high in 2021, when teachers received 23.5% lower wages on average relative to other workers with comparable credentials.

However, some education occupations typically lead to six-figure salaries. For example, the median salary among U.S. school district superintendents, the majority of whom have doctorates, was $147,000 in 2022, according to a recent report from AASA.

Laura W. Perna, vice provost for faculty at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education , says education degree recipients can use their degree to do good work and benefit society. "If we think about the important problems that need to be addressed in our world, you know, so much of the answer comes down to education," Perna says.

Stacey Ludwig Johnson, senior vice president and executive dean of the school of education at Western Governors University , an online university, emphasizes that schools and school districts aren't the only places where education degree recipients can use their skills. For instance, an educator can work as a corporate trainer, helping a business to increase the skills of its workforce, she says.

The Many Kinds of Education Majors

Among teaching degree programs, some focus on a particular level of education, such as preschool, elementary, middle or high school. Teaching degree programs may also hone in on how to teach a particular subject, or they can emphasize teaching methods that work well with a specific student population, such as adult learners, multi-lingual learners or individuals with disabilities.

When comparing education degree specializations, keep in mind that the earning potential of educators varies widely depending on which part of the education system they are trained for and what credential their job usually requires. For example, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary among U.S. high school teachers, who typically had a bachelor's degree, was about $61,820 in May 2021. That's about twice the median salary of preschool teachers, who usually had an associate degree and earned $30,210. The median salary among principals, who usually had a master's degree, was $98,420.

Sometimes educators with the same level of education earn different amounts depending on their area of focus. For instance, BLS data reveals that though teachers who specialize in basic adult education generally had the same amount of training as high school teachers – a bachelor's degree – their 2021 median salary was roughly $2,100 lower.

Education Degree Levels and How to Find the Right Tier

Leadership roles in the education sector generally require graduate education . The more training educators have, the higher their salaries tend to be. For example, according to PayScale, a compensation data company, the average base salary for U.S. workers with a Bachelor of Education , or B.Ed. degree, was $57,000, whereas the average annual base salary among those with a Doctor of Education, or Ed.D. degree, was $80,000.

Prospective education students should analyze the resumes of people who have jobs they are interested in to figure out the highest level of education to pursue, experts say.

Associate Degrees

Many preschool teaching jobs require at least a two-year associate degree in early childhood education. Teachers' assistants or paraprofessionals usually need at least two years of college coursework or an associate degree to work in public school classrooms.

Bachelor's Degrees

A bachelor's is the minimum amount of education needed for an entry-level K-12 teaching position at a U.S. public school.

Master's Degrees

A few states require teachers to begin pursuing a master's degree within several years of beginning teaching to maintain their license. Teachers may also move up the pay scale with a master's. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 58% of U.S. public school teachers who taught during the 2017-18 school year had a more advanced degree than a bachelor's.

Instructional coordinators or curriculum specialists, the educational administrators who oversee curricula, standards, teaching materials and often assessments, usually have a master's, and their median salary was $63,740 in May 2021, BLS data shows.

College and university administrators, who earned a median annual salary of $96,910 in May 2021, also typically have master's degrees, according to the BLS. Work in education policy typically requires a master's degree as well.

Master's degrees in education usually require two years of coursework.

College faculty who research and teach about education typically have Doctor of Philosophy, or Ph.D., degrees, and they sometimes have Ed.D. degrees. According to PayScale, the average salary for a worker with a Ph.D. in education was $87,000. Doctoral programs in education usually last at least three years and often take longer to finish.

School district administration positions sometimes require doctoral education, and certain managerial roles at government agencies and nonprofit organizations are reserved for individuals with doctorates. Education researchers frequently have doctorates, and so do school psychologists.

Guidance on Figuring Out How Much Schooling You Need

When deciding how high of a degree they should aim for, education students should think about the level of expertise and the kinds of skills that their desired job requires, says Carol Basile, dean of Arizona State University's Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College . "As you continue to move up in any education organization, there begins to be more of a requirement for a doctorate," she says.

Searching for a grad school? Get our  complete rankings of Best Graduate Schools.

Grad Degree Jobs With $100K+ Salaries

major in education meaning

Tags: education , education policy , education graduate school , teachers , careers , students

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Degree vs. Major: What’s the Difference?

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What’s Covered:

What is a major, what is a degree, dual degree vs. double major: how are they different, when do you need to declare a major.

  • How to Choose a Major

There’s a lot of terminology floating around the college process. Two words you’ve probably heard are degree and major. While related concepts, there are distinctions between them. A major is something you study, while a degree is what you ultimately earn.

Confused about what separates these two important concepts? You’re not alone. Keep reading for a complete breakdown of what majors and degrees really mean.

A major is the program of study you pursue in college. While you will often have additional requirements outside of your major, the vast majority of the courses you need to take in college will relate to it. For example, as an English major, you will probably be expected to study literature, history, foreign languages, and other humanities courses. Some students go into college planning to pursue a specific major, while others are undecided. 

Some colleges use different terminology for describing what essentially amounts to a major. For example, Harvard and Princeton call programs of study concentrations.

Curious about what types of majors are commonly available? Check out this list .

A degree is a credential you earn after completing your major and additional college requirements. Undergraduate degrees are termed bachelor’s degrees when they follow the completion of a four-year college program (you can usually complete the program in more or less time, but the typical length of time is four years). You may also attend two-year vocational or community colleges and earn an associate’s degree.

Bachelor’s degrees come in different forms, such as a Bachelor of Arts (BA), a Bachelor of Science (BS), a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA), and a Bachelor of Music (BM). These degrees describe broad categories encompassing a number of majors. A BS is usually awarded to STEM majors, while a BA tends to be awarded to graduates of humanities and some social science disciplines.

Some colleges and universities, however, only award one type of bachelor’s degree. At MIT, for instance, even humanities programs graduates earn a BS. This distinction generally won’t matter for employment or graduate school.

Dual degrees and double majors are important distinctions when it comes to your education. A double major means you’re declaring two majors but will earn a single degree from one school. For example, you might choose to major in both philosophy and history. You’ll need to complete requirements for both majors — different schools and individual programs have their own rules regarding whether you can double-count requirements for two majors. 

There are some benefits to double majoring, such as the fact that you’ll have a broader base of knowledge, opening the doors to more employment opportunities. But some students who choose to pursue two programs simultaneously need more time, beyond four years, to complete their requirements, which is more expensive than the traditional route.

If you choose to pursue a dual degree, on the other hand, you’ll graduate with two degrees. There are a number of combinations available from different schools, such as a BA/BS or BA/BFA. Some dual-degree programs also allow you to earn both an undergraduate and graduate degree, often in a reduced amount of time. 

BS/MD programs, which enable students to earn both their bachelor’s and doctorate of medicine, are one popular example. These typically guarantee admission to the medical school at the student’s undergraduate school either when you apply for undergraduate admission or early on in your college education.

Some colleges partner with more specialized schools or universities with broader program offerings for dual-degree programs, through which students earn degrees from two schools. For example, Brown and RISD offer a BS or BA/BFA program, through which students pursue an academic program at Brown and earn an art degree at RISD.

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Many students apply to college planning to study a specific discipline. This is called an intended major , and it usually won’t affect your chances of admission. However, some universities, such as Cornell, require you to apply to a specific school within the larger institution, in which case you’ll need to narrow down your major to certain programs that are housed within that school. Particularly rigorous programs may be more selective than others, such as Johns Hopkins’ Biomedical Engineering major.

While you usually don’t have to put down an intended major on your application — you can apply undecided — at the vast majority of colleges and universities, you’ll need to declare your major at some point. For many schools, the deadline is the end of sophomore year, although particular programs may ask you to declare your major sooner to ensure that you’re able to complete your requirements.

For the most part, you can change majors, although bear in mind that it’s more difficult to transfer into a specialized program than out of one. Moreover, at schools like Cornell, transferring between schools is often difficult.

How to Choose a Major 

So, how do you choose your major ? Here are just some of the many factors that should go into your decision.

1. Consider your strengths and interests.

This is usually the starting point for finding the right major for you. What high school classes are particularly interesting to you? Where do you excel? What kinds of extracurriculars do you enjoy? If you’re a math whiz who got a 5 on your AP Calculus BC exam and participate in research and competitions, then an engineering discipline might be something to consider.

2. Account for your career goals.

Some majors prepare students more directly for career paths than others. But the program you choose will provide some preparation for your later career. If you’re planning to become a journalist, for instance, you might declare a major in English, journalism, or creative writing.

Know that you can always change your mind — 18 is early to plan out your entire future — and it won’t mean that you’ve thrown away your college education. Many people end up in careers that are wholly unrelated to their college majors, but they still apply the skills they’ve learned.

3. Think about the ROI.

College is a huge investment, so it’s natural to want to consider what the payoff will be. Research the return on investment (ROI) for different majors. This takes into account the average salary graduates of specific majors end up earning at different points in their careers. Remember, though, that these are just averages, and career choices, of course, influence these figures, too.

When it comes to majors and degrees, there’s a lot to think about. Find out the ROIs and outcomes for specific majors and programs, and explore schools that offer them using our comparison tool . Plus, learn your real chances of admission to hundreds of schools that offer majors that interest you with CollegeVine’s free chancing engine .

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major in education meaning

Major, Course, and Class: What's the Difference?

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Tagged as: US vs UK

Here at Occam Education, we are immersed in the language of academics every single day. Our job is partly to be well-versed in the terms that higher education institutions use to talk about what they do, what they are like, and what they have to offer students. However, the terms that we use sometimes change. On top of that, these terms do vary in their usage from country to country.

It is very easy to get confused by terms that education professionals like us take for granted. Because we understand that the ambiguity of words can make it very hard to understand exactly what people like us are talking about, the "Defining the Terms" series is designed with parents and students in mind.

Between the usual American and UK universities we cover now, and the international institutions we will talk about in the future, how can you easily tell which term means what? To be honest, it will not always be immediately clear. And as in any profession, context is everything. What we can do, however, is provide some clarification.

Not only are some of these terms confusing, the college application process is a complex and often stressful one. We at Occam strive to make this process as clear, and dare I say it, as pleasant as possible. This is why we created Wend, our free app which helps you search for colleges, keep track of deadlines, and manage your application-related tasks.

This post will talk about three of perhaps the most fluid terms in American, Canadian, and UK higher education: major, course and class.

What is a major?

A "major" is a term common to American and Canadian higher education parlance. 1 A student’s "major" refers to what their primary area of study is. 2  For instance, a common question students in the US will ask one another is "what is your major?", to which students respond with what field they are working for a degree in.

A student who successfully completes the courses prescribed in a major qualifies for an undergraduate degree with the name of the major attached to it. For example, a student who completes an Arabic Studies major at the University of Notre Dame earns a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Arabic Studies. Another term for a major is "specialization," a term used by Babson College.

Similarly, when people have earned their degrees or left university in the US, the questions "What is your degree in?" and "What did you major in?" mean the same thing.

What is a course?

This term has very different meanings in the US and UK higher educational systems. In the UK, a "course" or "course of study" refers to what subject a student is seeking a degree in. 3 This is what US systems call a "major," as we talked about above. Oxford University, for example, encourages students to choose their course (not major) before they apply. UK universities do not use the term "major."

A " course " can also refer to a series of lectures taken over a certain period of time in the UK. 4

In the US, a "course" refers to an individual lecture or "class" offered in a given semester. The term "course" is also used to discuss individual Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) lectures in high school. (This is to emphasize the accelerated level of work required of students.)

The term "course of study" is often used with the same meaning as "major" in the US. This usage, however, is usually reserved for legal documents such as student visa applications and other immigration forms. However, it is occasionally used when discussing the series of lectures and examinations that American students take to complete their degree. (This is also called a "concentration.")

What is a class?

A "class" in the US is a more colloquial term for an individual lecture or semester-long course. 5 Students often use the phrases "I am going to class" or "I am taking a class with Dr. Person this semester."

In the UK, this term is used similarly, but not nearly as often, and it is considered much more informal than it is in the US. For instance, US universities will sometimes use the word "class" in official blog posts and news releases, but UK universities rarely do. In general, the word "class" is reserved for high school/pre-baccalaureate lectures in both the US and the UK.

Students will often use the term "coursework" to refer to the things they must accomplish to earn their degree or pass a class/ lecture in both the US and the UK.

There is a further meaning of this term that has nothing to do with lectures or majors or courses at all in the United States. When someone says that they are in the "University of Chicago Class of 2016," they mean that they graduated/earned their degree from the University of Chicago in the year 2016. In a previous post on Harvard’s early action admissions, we used the term "Harvard College Class of 2021." This meant that the statistics matched the students who will graduate from Harvard in the year 2021. This particular usage of the word "class" is not common in the UK.

Disambiguation: "Hono(u)rs," "Concentration" and "Minor"

"Honours" (UK) and "minor" (US) are closely related but also vastly different.

In the US, a  minor is a student’s declared secondary field of study or specialization. Minors and majors differ in that the former is subordinate to the latter. As with a major, the college or university in question lays out a framework of required classes a student must complete to earn the minor. This also varies greatly among schools.

For example, a student can be majoring in Religious Studies and earning a minor in Creative Writing at the same time. This means that a student will take a certain, but smaller, number of lectures in the subject of Creative Writing. The number and type of these courses is always far less than the major subject, and is either determined by the department offering the lectures or is agreed upon between department and student.

In the UK, the term "Honours" means the quality with which student has completed their primary (and sometimes secondary) course of study. While there are degrees of honours in degrees awarded by UK universities, most undergraduate degrees will use the term "honours" before the subject. However, earning honours in two subjects can mean that the student had either

  • Two subjects in which they completed an equal amount of coursework, or
  • A primary subject and a secondary subject that comprised at least 33% of the graduate’s coursework.

The term can also be used to indicate that a student completed a project with a high degree of quality or innovation.

"Honors" in the US means that a student was either enrolled in an honors program (which will have its own coursework requirements aside from the core courses for their major), or that they earned some kind of special distinction. It generally does not refer to the specific subjects they studied.

"Concentration" is where things can get truly confusing. A concentration is somewhere between a major and a minor in US parlance. Generally, this term refers to the kinds of classes/courses a student focuses on within their primary field of study.

For example, a Colorado State student majoring in mathematics in the US might be taking several classes in numerical analysis and computing. In this case, they would earn a B.S. degree in Mathematics with a concentration (or "emphasis") in Applied Mathematics. Similarly, an East London University student might enter a course in Psychology with a "focus," or "track" in Positive Psychology. Other terms for this include "path of study (UK)."

We know that the U.S. application system can be confusing, so feel free to use Wend's Q&A feature to ask our team of counselors any specific questions you may have!

  • Synonyms: course (UK), course of study (UK, sometimes the US), degree course (France)]  ↩
  • Related terms: concentration, minor, track (US), program  ↩
  • Synonyms: major (US), program(me) ↩ 4.Related terms: class, lecture, series, subject, coursework ↩
  • Related terms: course, lecture, examination, cohort (used in both US and UK graduate education) ↩

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Sat / act prep online guides and tips, what is a major in college 4 steps to pick the right one.

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General Education


While at college, you’ll need to pick a major, an area of study that you’ll specialize in.

The vast majority of colleges and universities require students to pick a major. Even if your school doesn’t make you pick a major, you’ll likely still follow a specific course of study to gain knowledge and experience in your field of choice.

In this article, we’ll answer the question “what is a major,” give the best college major definition, and talk you through how to decide which major to pick.

What Is a Major in College?

When you get to college, you’ll need to pick a specific subject area to specialize in. That subject area is called a major.

Your major will dictate the coursework you take. Ultimately, most students take about half of their coursework within their major’s department.

As we said before, the vast majority of schools require students to pick a major. A handful of schools don’t require you to major in anything at all, while at other places, you can major in more than one subject. Some students might choose to major in two subject areas, such as Anthropology and History. Other students might choose to have a major and a minor, which is a specialization that requires fewer courses than a major does.

Most majors are outlined by the university: you’ll have to choose a set subject area and pick classes from a pre-selected workload.

Some schools, however, allow students to design their own major. In this scenario, you’d work with an advisor to create a class load that matches what you want to study. For instance, if you wanted to study Human Rights, but your school doesn’t have a Human Rights major, you might select classes from History, Anthropology, Sociology, and Political science to create this new major. It’s important to note that not all schools allow students to create their own major. If creating your own major is something you’re interested in, you’ll need to talk to your advisor.

What Is a Major? What Is a Concentration? What Is a Degree?

When it comes to your college major, there are a lot of words that are thrown around: major, concentration, minor, degree. What do they all mean? Let’s take a closer look.

Your major is your specific subject area that you specialize in.

A concentration, on the other hand, typically refers to a set course of study within that major. For instance, if you’re a Classics major, you might have a concentration in Latin or a concentration in Ancient Greek. Think of it as a way of specializing even more. That being said, some colleges and universities call their majors concentrations instead. So, depending on where you attend, the terminology might mean something different.

A minor is a set area of study, as well, but you need to complete fewer courses for a minor than a major. If you need to take 16 classes in your subject area to major, you might only need to take 10 to achieve a minor. The exact number of classes you’ll need to take depends on your school.

Your degree is what you receive at the end of your college career. Your degree indicates that you completed the course of study outlined by your school. Your degree also signifies that you completed coursework in many different subject areas, not just those in your major. For instance, if you’re a Calculus major but took a class in American History, that class will count towards your degree, but not your major.


When Do You Need to Declare a Major?

When you declare your major depends on a couple factors: what’s required at your school and when you decide what you want to study.

Most colleges and universities require you to pick a major by the end of your sophomore year. In fact, some schools don’t even let you pick until then. At other places, however, you can declare before you start classes. Some students arrive at school knowing exactly what they want to study; others take a longer time to sample and understand their different options.

How to Pick a Major: 4 Step Guide

Wondering how to pick a major? This four-step guide will help.

#1: Consider What You’re Interested In

First, consider your interests. The vast majority of your coursework will be in your major’s field, so you don’t want to pick something that bores you. If you hate English, for instance, you probably shouldn’t be an English major!

Pick something that you’ll want to study and enjoy learning about for the rest of your time at college.

#2: Talk to Other People in That Department

Once you’ve decided on a few subject areas that interest you, talk to other students in those departments. Get a sense from them of what the upcoming coursework is like and what opportunities are available. Maybe you’ll find that the upper-level coursework changes tack and becomes something you’re not super interested in. Or, maybe you’ll find that your least favorite professor teaches all the advanced courses. Either way, it’s good to know what you’re getting into.

#3: Research Career Prospects

For some students, their major has a big impact on their career potential. For others, it’s not as big of a deal. If you’re looking to work in a field that requires specific training, like computer science or biology, then your major will need to line up with that path. If, however, you’re not 100% sure what your career will be, don’t worry. Many people end up working in fields that are different than what they majored in. It is, however, a good idea to research your major and see what kinds of jobs most people end up having.


#4: Meet With an Advisor in the Department

Finally, you should meet with an advisor in your potential major’s department . You’ll likely get a new advisor when you declare your major, so it’s helpful to speak with some of the options ahead of time to get their perspective on what they teach and whether or not it’s a good fit for you.

Final Thoughts: What Is a Major in College?

So, what is a major in college? The best college major definition is that your college major is the specific area that you'll spend most of your time in college studying. Most colleges and universities have tons of options for topics you can study for your major.

What’s Next?

Still stressed about selecting a major? Learn how to choose a major for your college application , and then check out our post on the average college GPA by major .

What are the best college majors? We've come up with a list of the very best majors by looking at their salary potential and employment growth. See if your major made the cut!

If you’re thinking longer-term about your career prospects, you might be interested in learning more about job shadowing . It’s a great way to test out a profession to see whether it might be a good fit for you!

Want to build the best possible college application?   We can help.   PrepScholar Admissions combines world-class admissions counselors with our data-driven, proprietary admissions strategies. We've guided thousands of students to get into their top choice schools, from state colleges to the Ivy League. We know what kinds of students colleges want to admit and are driven to get you admitted to your dream schools. Learn more about PrepScholar Admissions to maximize your chance of getting in:

Hayley Milliman is a former teacher turned writer who blogs about education, history, and technology. When she was a teacher, Hayley's students regularly scored in the 99th percentile thanks to her passion for making topics digestible and accessible. In addition to her work for PrepScholar, Hayley is the author of Museum Hack's Guide to History's Fiercest Females.

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Berkeley School of Education

Undergraduate major in educational sciences, major course requirements.

To complete the major requirements, students must take 13 total courses. Eleven of those courses are in four domains (Teaching and Learning; Educational Contexts in a Global World; Education and Social Transformation; and Educational Research and Practice). Within these areas, students are able to choose among a subset of courses, as listed below. Two of the courses will be  of upper-division elective coursework, either within the School of Education (including graduate level courses) or from a pre-approved list of electives outside of the School.

Grading Options and Required Grades

  • All courses counting towards the Major must be taken for a letter grade
  • All courses counting towards the Major must receive a C- or greater
  • No more than two overlapping upper divison courses may be used for the Major
  • Overall GPA must be at or above 2.0 for graduation

Teaching and Learning

Required (select two):

EDUC 130: Knowing and Learning in Math and Science (3)

EDUC  140AC / *EDUC W140A: The Art of Making Meaning: Educational Perspectives on Literacy and Learning in a Global World (4)

Select one:

EDUC  114A: Early development and Education (4)

EDUC  132: Language Learning in Chicanx/Latinx Communities (4)

EDUC  166: Will STEM Save US? The Promises and Perils of STEM Education (3)

EDUC  170: Teaching and Learning Data/Computational Science (3)

Educational Contexts in a Global World 

Select three:

EDUC  40AC: From Macro to Micro: Experiencing Education (In)equality in and Beyond Schools (3)

* EDUC  141: Exploring Digital Pedagogy (3)

* EDUC  142: Education in a Global World (4)

EDUC  154: Language in/and the World (3)

* EDUC  161: Digital Learning Environments (3)

* EDUC  165: Early Learning Environments for Diverse Learners (4)

EDUC  167: Higher Education Policy (3)

Education and Social Transformation  

EDUC  155AC: Asian American Struggles and Collective Learning for Racial Justice (4)

EDUC  163: Contemporary Issues in US Education (3)

EDUC C 181: Race, Identity, and Culture in Urban Schools (3)

EDUC  182AC: The Politics of Educational Inequality (4) 

EDUC  188: Language, Race and Power in Education (3) 

* EDUC  190AC/ EDUC W190A: Critical Studies in Education (4)

EDUC W190: Critical Studies in Education (3)

Educational Fieldwork, Research, and Project Capstone 

Required capstone research/practicum course (Choose one):

* EDUC  W144: Practicum in Education/Capstone project (3)

EDUC 150/EDUC 187A: Teachers of Color In the United States (3)

Please note: Students who took EDUCW144  Spring 2024 or prior for 1-2 units are permitted to count these units towards the Capstone requirement, and can repeat EDUC W144 for 1-2 units to reach the 3 unit requirement.

Students taking EDUCW144  after Spring 2024   are expected to take  EDUCW144 for the full 3 units  to satisfy the Capstone requirement.

EDUC  122: Research Methods for Science and Mathematics K-12 Teachers (3)

* EDUC  153: Research in Education: Studying Educational Inequality and Possibility (4)

EDUC  168: Educational Testing in the USA: Issues and a Practical Experience (3)

Two elective courses

Students must take an additional 6-8 units (two courses) of upper-division elective coursework, either within the School of Education (including graduate level courses, see the Academic Guide  or from a pre-approved list of electives outside of BSE, aligned with elective courses already approved for our undergraduate maojr and minor ( see the Education approved course list ).

Degree Requirements

View full Degree requirements for the School of Education

Declaring the Educational Sciences Major

Education courses, bse undergraduate advisor.

email:  [email protected]

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MS vs. MA in Education — What’s the Difference?

Topics: Education Programs

Published on: 11/24/22 8:57 AM

MS vs. MA in Education — What’s the Difference?

Teachers who hold a master’s degree are sought after in many school environments, and if you are considering giving yourself a competitive edge with a graduate education degree — you should know that there are different degrees to choose from. 

With different degrees come different abbreviations. Let’s break down the top two abbreviations you’ll encounter in your pursuit of a master's degree in education: 

MA = Master of Arts 

MS = Master of Science

There are differences between a Master of Science in Education and a Master of Arts in Education that are important to understand when planning your academic future. We’ve unpacked these differences so that you can make the best choice for your teaching goals. 

Explore our interactive educcation resource to learn more about the education  master's degrees, certificates and endorsements we offer!

What does the MA stand for in an education program? 

A Master of Arts in Education will give you a deeper theoretical understanding of teaching and education. But it’s important to recognize that a Master of Arts in Education is specifically focused on the arts and humanities. 

An MA in Education is a valuable option to pursue if you’re interested in obtaining an advanced degree that is rooted in the humanities and if you think you may want to teach subjects related to the liberal arts. 

what is a master of science in education?

A Master of Science in Education will also give you a more technical understanding of the art of teaching. But a Master of Science in Education, compared to a Master of Arts in Education, is specifically focused on scientific and technical fields.

An MS in Education is an excellent choice for those interested in teaching subjects that are more technical in nature. And since this degree is rooted in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) ideology, many educators choose to obtain an MS in Education in order to jumpstart a teaching career that is specifically focused on STEM disciplines.

What is a STEM teacher?

The STEM fields are advancing more rapidly than ever, and for this reason, the need for competent and passionate STEM teachers has also increased at a rapid rate. Schools all over the country need data-minded educators who have specialized in one subject at the secondary level, such as biology or computer science.

With a Master of Science in Education , you can fill a significant talent gap by entering the classroom with the technical skills needed to teach the STEM disciplines that are so critical to the advancement of countless industries.

Your master's degree in education will equip you to work with the best in this impactful field and give you the tools to teach the next generation of STEM-focused professionals. 

Here's why you should consider obtaining more credits (even if you already have a master's degree in education).

Did you know that teachers who obtain additional credits (on top of holding a master's degree) are actually eligible for higher salaries?

Many teachers who have invested in a master's degree in education choose to continue their education by earning a certification or endorsement — giving them more graduate-level credits, which in turn, leads to a salary increase. So, even if you have a master's degree already, there is value in achieving more credits through a certification or endorsement program.

Neumann University offers a variety of Master of Science in Education programs, certifications, and endorsements for educators who wish to advance their skills and for teachers who want to obtain additional credits in order to facilitate a salary increase.

Neumann University: Your Next Step into the STEM education field.

At Neumann University, we know the value of getting ahead of the competition, so we developed several graduate education programs to choose from — depending on your specific area of interest. 

We offer a variety of Master of Science in Education programs (and certificates and endorsements) that are specifically designed for driven teachers looking to make a difference. The Master of Science in Education that you choose will sharpen your competitive edge and make you an excellent candidate for hire in diverse school environments. 

Want to know more about our programs? Request more information or read some stories about how education impacts the world . 

Ready to start your next steps into the graduate world? Apply now .

Explore our interactive education resource and take our quiz to find the master's program in education that's right for you.

Take the Quiz

WRITTEN BY: Bettsy McKlaine

 Bettsy McKlaine

About The Author: Bettsy McKlaine is the Executive Director of Enrollment Management, Degree Completion & Graduate Programs at Neumann University and a proud Alumna. The Neumann Community has become her second family and she loves to interact with students, both from the undergraduate and graduate population. Her favorite time of year is at the start of each semester as students begin classes!



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50 Best Colleges for Education Majors – 2024

April 15, 2024

A decade ago, many states in the U.S. had a teacher surplus. However, due to burnout (one-third of new teachers leave the profession within five years) and massive declines in enrollment in teacher education programs since 2010, there is today a critical shortage of teachers across the country. Many entering the profession will attend local universities within their home state, which often feed into nearby school districts. However, those seeking to attend education programs with the best national reputations will find our list of Best Colleges for Education most useful. This list includes liberal arts colleges and large public and private universities from every region of the country. This list will be applicable to anyone pursuing certification as an early childhood education, elementary education, or secondary education teacher in 2024.


Click here to read our methodology for the Best Colleges for Education Majors.

Best Colleges for Education Majors

Here’s a quick preview of the first ten teacher education institutions that made our list. Detailed profiles and stats can be found when you scroll below.

1) Vanderbilt University

2) University of Michigan

3) Northwestern University

4) Duke University

5) New York University

6) University of Wisconsin-Madison

7) Boston College

8) Washington University in St Louis

9) Brown University

10) Swarthmore College

All of the schools profiled below have stellar reputations in the field of teacher education and commit substantial resources to undergraduate education. For each of the best colleges for education majors, College Transitions will provide you with—when available—each school’s:

  • Cost of Attendance
  • Acceptance Rate
  • Median  SAT
  • Median  ACT
  • Retention Rate
  • Graduation Rate

We will also include a longer write-up of each college’s:

  • Academic Highlights – Includes facts like student-to-faculty ratio, average class size, number of majors offered, and most popular majors.
  • Professional Outcomes – Includes info on the rate of positive outcomes, companies employing alumni, and graduate school acceptances.

Vanderbilt University

  • Nashville, TN

Academic Highlights: Four of Vandy’s ten schools cater to undergrads: the College of Arts and Sciences, the Blair School of Music, the Peabody College of Education and Human Development, and the School of Engineering. In the 2022-23 school year, 87% of course sections contained 19 or fewer students. Of the 70 undergraduate majors, economics, politics and government, and neuroscience are the most popular. The School of Engineering has a strong national reputation as do offerings in biology, economics, education, and music.

Professional Outcomes: Six months after graduating, 96% of the Class of 2021 were employed or in graduate school. The most commonly entered industry was finance followed by technology, consulting, education, and engineering. Alumni can be found in droves at Capital One, Goldman Sachs, Bain & Company, JP Morgan Chase, Citi, and Meta. Among 2022 alumni who directly pursued advanced degrees, the majority enrolled at Vanderbilt followed by Columbia, Harvard, Penn, NYU, and Northwestern.

  • Enrollment: 7,151 (undergraduate); 6,559 (graduate)
  • Cost of Attendance: $89,590
  • Median SAT: 1530
  • Median ACT: 35
  • Acceptance Rate: 7%
  • Retention Rate: 96%
  • Graduation Rate: 93%

University of Michigan

  • Ann Arbor, MI

Academic Highlights: There are 280+ undergraduate degree programs across fourteen schools and colleges, and the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts (LSA) enrolls the majority of students. The Ross School of Business offers highly rated programs in entrepreneurship, management, accounting, and finance. The College of Engineering is also one of the best in the country. By degrees conferred, engineering (15%), computer science (14%), and the social sciences (11%) are most popular. A solid 56% of classes have fewer than 20 students.

Professional Outcomes: Within three months of graduating, 89% of LSA grads are employed full-time or in graduate school, with healthcare, education, law, banking, research, nonprofit work, and consulting being the most popular sectors. Within three months, 99% of Ross grads are employed with a median salary of $90k. Top employers include Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank, EY, Morgan Stanley, PwC, Deloitte, and Amazon.  Within six months, 96% of engineering grads are employed (average salary of $84k) or in grad school. General Motors, Ford, Google, Microsoft, Apple, and Meta employ the greatest number of alumni.

  • Enrollment: 32,695 (undergraduate); 18,530 (graduate)
  • Cost of Attendance: $35,450 (in-state); $76,294 (out-of-state)
  • Median SAT: 1470
  • Median ACT: 33
  • Acceptance Rate: 18%
  • Retention Rate: 97%

Northwestern University

  • Evanston, IL

Academic Highlights : Northwestern is home to six undergraduate schools, including Medill, which is widely regarded as one of the country’s best journalism schools. The McCormick School of Engineering also achieves top rankings, along with programs in economics, social policy, and theatre. The social sciences account for the greatest number of degrees conferred (19%), followed by communications/journalism (13%), and engineering (11%). 45% of classes have nine or fewer students enrolled; 78% have fewer than twenty enrollees. 57% of recent grads had the chance to conduct undergraduate research.

Professional Outcomes: Six months after graduating, 69% of the Class of 2022 had found employment and 27% were in graduate school. The four most popular professional fields were consulting (18%), engineering (18%), business/finance (16%), and communications/marketing/media (13%). Employers included the BBC, NBC News, The Washington Post , NPR, Boeing, Google, IBM, Deloitte, PepsiCo, Northrop Grumman, and Goldman Sachs. Across all majors, the average starting salary was $73k. Of those headed straight to graduate school, engineering, medicine, and business were the three most popular areas of concentration.

  • Enrollment: 8,659 (undergraduate); 14,073 (graduate)
  • Cost of Attendance: $91,290
  • Median ACT: 34
  • Retention Rate: 98%
  • Graduation Rate: 97%

Duke University

Academic Highlights: The academic offerings at Duke include 53 majors, 52 minors, and 23 interdisciplinary certificates. Class sizes are on the small side—71% are nineteen or fewer, and almost one-quarter are less than ten. A stellar 5:1 student-to-faculty ratio helps keep classes so reasonable even while catering to five figures worth of graduate students. Computer Science is the most popular area of concentration (11%), followed by economics (10%), public policy (9%), biology (8%), and computer engineering (7%).

Professional Outcomes: At graduation, approximately 70% of Duke diploma-earners enter the world of work, 20% continue into graduate schools, and 2% start their own businesses. The industries that attract the largest percentage of Blue Devils are tech (21%), finance (15%), business (15%), healthcare (9%), and science/research (6%). Of the 20% headed into graduate school, a hefty 22% are attending medical school, 18% are in PhD programs, and 12% are entering law school. The med school acceptance rate is 85%, more than twice the national average.

  • Enrollment: 6,640
  • Cost of Attendance: $85,238
  • SAT Range: 1490-1570
  • ACT Range: 34-35
  • Acceptance Rate: 6%

New York University

  • New York, NY

Academic Highlights: NYU is divided into a number of smaller (but still quite large) colleges organized by discipline; in sum, there are 230 areas of undergraduate study across nine schools and colleges. For its size, a commendable 58% of classes have an enrollment under 20 students. While all schools within NYU have solid reputations, Stern holds the distinction as one of the top undergraduate business programs in the country. For those entering film, dance, drama, or other performing arts, Tisch is as prestigious a place as you can find to study.

Professional Outcomes: Within six months of exiting, 94% of Class of 2022 grads had landed at their next destination, with 78% employed and 21% in graduate school. The top industries for employment were healthcare (11%), internet and software (9%), finance (8%), and entertainment (8%). Large numbers of alumni can be found at Google, Deloitte, Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, IBM, JP Morgan Chase, Citi, and Amazon. The mean starting salary is $75,336. In 2022, business, arts and sciences, and law school were the most popular grad school destinations.

  • Enrollment: 29,401 (undergraduate); 29,711 (graduate)
  • Cost of Attendance: $90,222-$96,172
  • Median SAT: 1520
  • Acceptance Rate: 12%
  • Retention Rate: 95%
  • Graduation Rate: 87%

University of Wisconsin – Madison

  • Madison, WI

Academic Highlights: There are 230+ undergraduate majors offered across eight schools and colleges, including the top-ranked School of Business and College of Engineering as well as the College of Letters and Science, the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, and the Schools of Nursing, Education, Pharmacy, and Human Ecology. Undergrads can expect a mix of large and small classes, with 44% of sections enrolling fewer than 20 students. Business (18%), biology (12%), the social sciences (11%), and engineering (10%) are most popular.

Professional Outcomes: In a recent year, 46% of job-seeking grads graduated with an offer.  Top employers included UW-Madison, Epic, Kohl’s, Oracle, Deloitte, and UW Health. Across all graduating years, companies employing 250+ alumni include Google, Target, Microsoft, Amazon, Apple, PwC, Accenture, and Meta. 28% of recent grads enrolled directly in graduate/professional school; the majority stayed at UW–Madison while others headed to Columbia, Northwestern, and Carnegie Mellon. The university is the top producer of Peace Corps volunteers.

  • Enrollment: 37,230 (undergraduate); 12,656 (graduate)
  • Cost of Attendance: $28,916 (in-state); $58,912 (out-of-state)
  • Median SAT: 1440
  • Median ACT: 30
  • Acceptance Rate: 49%
  • Retention Rate: 94%
  • Graduation Rate: 89%

Boston College

  • Chestnut Hill, MA

Academic Highlights: The college offers roughly 60 majors across four schools that award undergraduate degrees. Approximately half of the college’s sections contain nineteen or fewer students. 95% of graduates reported learning how to think critically at BC, and 93% said they learned how to write clearly and effectively. BC offers highly respected programs in communications, psychology, and business through the renowned Carroll School of Management. Other popular and well-regarded majors include economics, biology, and chemistry.

Professional Outcomes: Within six months of graduation, 96% of the Class of 2022 had landed at their next destination. The most favored industries were financial services and real estate (26%), health care/science (20%), and business/consulting (16%). The median starting salary for a 2022 BC grad was $67,000. Eighteen percent of the Class of 2022 entered graduate schools including Brown, Columbia, the University of Chicago, and Yale. Examining the Class of 2022 data, 16% entered law school, and 14% pursued some other type of doctoral degree.

  • Enrollment: 9,484
  • Cost of Attendance: $86,155
  • Average SAT: 1482
  • Average ACT: 34
  • Acceptance Rate: 17%
  • Graduation Rate: 92%

Washington University in St. Louis

  • St. Louis, MO

Academic Highlights : WashU admits students into five schools, many of which offer nationally recognized programs: Arts & Sciences, the Olin School of Business, the School of Engineering & Applied Sciences, and the Art of Architecture programs housed within the Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts. The most commonly conferred degrees are in engineering (13%), social sciences (13%), business (13%), biology (11%), and psychology (10%). 66% of classes have fewer than 20 students, and over one-quarter have single-digit enrollments. 65% double major or pursue a minor.

Professional Outcomes: The Class of 2022 sent 52% of grads into the workforce and 28% into graduate and professional schools. Companies employing the highest number of WashU grads feature sought-after employers such as Amazon, Bain, Boeing, Deloitte, Google, IBM, Goldman Sachs, and Microsoft. Of the employed members of the Class of 2022 who reported their starting salaries, 79% made more than $60k. The universities welcoming the largest number of Bears included the prestigious institutions of Caltech, Columbia, Harvard, Penn, Princeton, and Stanford.

  • Enrollment: 8,132 (undergraduate); 8,880 (graduate)
  • Cost of Attendance: $83,760
  • Acceptance Rate: 11%

Brown University

  • Providence, RI

Academic Highlights: Students must choose one of 80+ “concentration programs,” but there are no required courses. Class sizes tend to be small—68% have fewer than twenty students—and 35% are comprised of nine or fewer students. Biology, economics, computer science, mathematics, and engineering are among the most popular areas of concentration at Brown; however, it is hard to distinguish any one program, because Brown possesses outstanding offerings across so many disciplines.

Professional Outcomes: Soon after receiving their Brown diplomas, 69% of graduates enter the world of employment. Companies employing the greatest number of Brown alums include Google, Microsoft, Goldman Sachs, Amazon, Morgan Stanley, Apple, McKinsey & Company, and Bain & Company. The Class of 2022 saw 27% of graduates go directly into graduate/professional school. Right out of undergrad, Brown students boasted an exceptional 81% admission rate to med school and an 81% admission rate to law school.

  • Enrollment: 7,639
  • Cost of Attendance: $84,828
  • Acceptance Rate: 5%
  • Retention Rate: 99%
  • Graduation Rate: 96%

Swarthmore College

  • Swarthmore, PA

Academic Highlights: Swarthmore offers forty undergraduate programs and runs 600+ courses each academic year. Small, seminar-style courses are the norm—an outstanding 33% of sections enroll fewer than ten students, and 70% contain a maximum of nineteen students. Social science degrees are the most commonly conferred, accounting for 24% of all 2022 graduates. Future businessmen/women, engineers, and techies are also well-positioned, given Swat’s incredibly strong offerings in economics, engineering, and computer science.

Professional Outcomes: 68% of Class of 2022 grads entered the workforce shortly after graduation. Popular industries included education (17%), consulting (16%), and financial services (13%); the median starting salary was $60,000. Google is a leading employer of Swarthmore grads followed by Amazon, Goldman Sachs, IBM, and a number of the top universities.  18% of 2022 grads pursued advanced degrees, with 35% pursuing a PhD, 35% entering master’s programs, 10% heading to law school, and 7% matriculating into medical school.

  • Enrollment: 1,625
  • Cost of Attendance: $81,376
  • Median SAT: 1500
  • Graduation Rate: 94%

University of Washington – Seattle

  • Seattle, WA

Academic Highlights: 180+ undergraduate majors are offered across thirteen colleges/schools. Personal connections with professors abound as 55% of grads complete a faculty-mentored research project. The College of Engineering, which includes the College of Computer Science & Engineering, is one of the best in the nation; UW also boasts strong programs in everything from business to social work to environmental science. The most popular degrees are the social sciences (13%), biology (12%), computer science (11%), and business (8%).

Professional Outcomes: Within months of graduation, 73% of Class of 2022 grads were employed and 17% were continuing their education. The most popular employers of the Class of 2022 included Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Boeing, and KPMG. Across all living alumni, 6,000+ work for Microsoft, and 4000+ work for each of Boeing and Amazon. Of those headed to graduate/professional school, just over half remain in state, mostly at UW itself. Large numbers of 2022 grads also headed to Columbia, Johns Hopkins, and USC.

  • Enrollment: 36,872 (undergraduate); 16,211 (graduate)
  • Cost of Attendance: $34,554 (in-state); $63,906 (out-of-state)
  • Median SAT: 1420
  • Median ACT: 32
  • Acceptance Rate: 48%
  • Graduation Rate: 84%

University of California, Irvine

Academic Highlights: UCI offers eighty undergrad programs as well as many opportunities for personal connection; 56% of all sections enroll 19 or fewer students and over 60% of students conduct a research project. The most commonly conferred degrees are the social sciences (16%), business (12%), psychology (11%), and biology (9%). The Samueli School of Engineering has a solid reputation as does the Bren School, the only independent computer science school in the UC system. Programs in public health and biological sciences earn very high marks.

Professional Outcomes: Accounting, aerospace, internet and software, K-12 education, real estate, and retail are among the industries attracting the greatest number of Anteaters. Companies employing large numbers of recent grads include Boeing, the Walt Disney Company, Google, EY, and Microsoft. Hundreds of alumni are also found at Kaiser Permanente, Meta, Apple, Edwards Lifesciences, and Deloitte. The median salary is $69,000, with CS grads earning close to $120k right off the bat. UCI has a very strong reputation for premed.

  • Enrollment: 28,661 (undergraduate); 7,275 (graduate)
  • Cost of Attendance: $40,202 (in-state); $72,776 (out-of-state)
  • Median SAT: Test Blind
  • Median ACT: Test Blind
  • Acceptance Rate: 26%
  • Retention Rate: 91%

The College of New Jersey

Academic Highlights: As one of only eight public colleges in the country to maintain a four-year graduation rate above 75%, TCNJ is in the esteemed company of such institutions as UVA, Michigan, and UNC-Chapel Hill. TCNJ sports a 13:1 student-to-faculty ratio and an average class size of twenty-one; 42% of sections contain fewer than 20 students. Sixteen percent of degrees conferred are in education as many attend TCNJ to become teachers but the most popular degree is actually business/marketing (19%), followed by engineering (9%), and health programs (8%).

Professional Outcomes: Checking in with TCNJ grads one year after receiving their degrees, 93% had entered the working world or started an advanced degree. The list of companies employing significant numbers of recent alumni includes Johnson and Johnson, JP Morgan Chase & Co., Bank of America, Bloomberg LP, MetLife, EY, and PricewaterhouseCoopers. The most frequently attended graduate schools by recent grads included Rutgers, Georgetown, and Stevens Institute of Technology.

  • Enrollment: 7,039
  • Cost of Attendance: $34,86 (In-State); $40,710 (Out-of-State)
  • Median SAT: 1250
  • Median ACT: 28
  • Acceptance Rate: 64%
  • Retention Rate: 90%
  • Graduation Rate: 86%

University of California, Los Angeles

  • Los Angeles, CA

Academic Highlights: UCLA offers 125 majors in 100+ academic departments, and more than 60 majors require a capstone experience that results in the creation of a tangible product under the mentorship of faculty members. The most commonly conferred degrees are in the social sciences (25%), biology (16%), psychology (11%), mathematics (8%), and engineering (7%). Departmental rankings are high across the board, especially in computer science, engineering, film, fine and performing arts, mathematics, and political science.

Professional Outcomes: UCLA grads flow most heavily into the research, finance, computer science, and engineering sectors. High numbers of recent grads can be found at Disney, Google, EY, Teach for America, Amazon, and Oracle. Hundreds also can be found at Bloomberg, Deloitte, Mattel, Oracle, and SpaceX. The average starting salary exceeds $55,000. 16% of recent grads enrolled directly in a graduate/professional school, with other CA-based institutions like Stanford, Pepperdine, USC, Berkeley, and Loyola Marymount being the most popular.

  • Enrollment: 33,040 (undergraduate); 15,010 (graduate)
  • Cost of Attendance: $38,517 (in-state); $71,091 (out-of-state)
  • Acceptance Rate: 9%

Colgate University

  • Hamilton, NY

Academic Highlights: Fifty-six majors are on tap at Colgate, including all of the expected liberal arts concentrations. With a student-faculty ratio of 9:1 and an average class size of 16, Colgate undergraduates work intimately with their instructors. The social sciences account for 35% of all degrees conferred and, within that umbrella, economics, political science, and English are among the most popular and most well-regarded majors.

Professional Outcomes: Nine months after graduation, only a small number of Colgate alumni are still looking for work; in 2022, that group represented less than 2% of the graduating class. A substantial 80% had already landed full-time jobs. Employers hiring the most Colgate grads included BOA, Merrill Lynch, JP Morgan, EY, Wayfair, and the NIH. 85-95% of law school applicants are accepted into one of their target institutions. The medical school numbers were even more impressive with 100% of graduating seniors gaining acceptance into at least one med school.

  • Enrollment: 3,130
  • Cost of Attendance: $83,814
  • Graduation Rate: 91%

Bowdoin College

  • Brunswick, ME

Academic Highlights: Class sizes are small—64% contain fewer than twenty students—and 21% have fewer than ten students. The student-faculty ratio is 9:1. More than half of Bowdoin undergrads report interacting with a professor outside of regular class time at least once per week. The greatest percentage of degrees are conferred in the social sciences (30%), biology (13%), area/ethnic/gender studies (8%), computer science (7%), and mathematics (7%). Economics and government and legal studies are two of the more popular majors within the social sciences.

Professional Outcomes: An examination of three recent years’ worth of outcomes data reveals that one year after graduation, between 73 and 77% of recent grads have found full-time employment, and 15% have gone directly into graduate school. Of those entering graduate school, 48% were enrolled in master’s programs, 23% in PhD programs, 13% in law school, and 8% in med school. The top twenty graduate schools attended, by volume, in the last five years make an exclusive list including six Ivies along with Duke, MIT, Johns Hopkins, and Stanford.

  • Enrollment: 1,915
  • Cost of Attendance: $82,600
  • Median SAT: 1510

Smith College

  • Northampton, MA

Academic Highlights: Smith has 50 academic departments and programs. The social sciences are most popular, accounting for 21% of the degrees conferred, with programs in economics and government carrying very strong reputations. Next in line are biology (6%), computer science (5%), English (5%), data science (5%), and engineering science (5%); more than two-fifths of current students are majoring in a STEM field. 19% of undergraduate sections have single-digit enrollments, and 69% of total class sections enroll fewer than 20 students.

Professional Outcomes: Within six months of graduating, 97% of alumnae had found employment. More than 25 alumnae can be found at the US Department of State, Google, IBM, Johnson & Johnson, Accenture, Fidelity Investments, Deloitte, Microsoft, JPMorgan Chase, and Amazon. Within two years of graduating, 40% of alumni had already entered a graduate program, and within ten years, 70% had earned or were working toward an advanced degree. Many Smith women rise to high ranks —twenty years after graduation, 18% of alumnae report holding a chief executive or other executive-level position.

  • Enrollment: 2,523 (undergraduate); 350 (graduate)
  • Cost of Attendance: $88,980
  • Acceptance Rate: 23%

Boston University

Academic Highlights: In total, the university offers more than 300 programs of study, 100+ of which are distinct undergraduate degrees spread across ten schools/colleges. Many classes at BU are reasonably small—60% contain fewer than twenty students; only 19% contain more than forty. The student-to-faculty ratio is 11:1. The greatest number of degrees are conferred in social sciences (16%), business/marketing (15%), communications and journalism (15%), biology (11%), engineering (9%), and health professions/related sciences (7%).

Professional Outcomes: Six months after graduation, 90% of BU grads have found their way into the world of employment or full-time graduate study. Across all graduating years, companies employing more than 350 BU alums include Google, Oracle, Accenture, IBM, and Amazon Web Services. Of the one-quarter of grads who move directly into graduate school, many are welcomed onto the campuses of elite graduate programs. For example, engineering students found new academic homes at MIT, Stanford, Carnegie Mellon, and Columbia.

  • Enrollment: 18,459
  • Cost of Attendance: $86,363
  • Median SAT: 1430
  • Acceptance Rate: 14%

Wesleyan University

  • Middletown, CT

Academic Highlights: With 45 majors and 32 minors, Wes truly has something for everyone. The academic requirements are relatively minimal, giving undergrads a high degree of intellectual freedom. Under 75% of class sections have fewer than twenty students; students rave about the accessible faculty. Research opportunities with professors are plentiful. Offerings in economics, English, film studies, and neuroscience typically receive the most praise from employers/grad schools; accordingly, the social sciences (24%), psychology (17%), and the visual and performing arts (12%) are the most popular.

Professional Outcomes: Within six months of graduating, 66% of 2022 grads had entered employment, with tech/engineering/sciences, education, and arts/entertainment being the three top sectors. The companies employing the highest numbers of recent Wesleyan grads included Google, Epic, Analysis Group, Boston Medical Center, Booz Allen Hamilton, Accenture, and Apple. Graduate school was the next stop for 18% of new alums; enrolling institutions included MIT, Stanford, Berkeley, Yale, Harvard, Temple, and UMass.

  • Enrollment: 3,069 (undergraduate); 184 (graduate)
  • Cost of Attendance: $89,094

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

  • Chapel Hill, NC

Academic Highlights: Undergraduates can choose from 74 bachelor’s degree programs in a number of schools and colleges, the largest of which is the College of Arts & Sciences. 44% of classes have a student enrollment under 20. The social sciences (15%), biology (12%), media/journalism (9%), computer science (8%), and business (6%) are the areas in which the most degrees are conferred. The Kenan-Flager Business School is internationally renowned and requires separate admission. Other strong programs include those in chemistry, journalism, psychology, and political science.

Professional Outcomes: Six months after leaving Chapel Hill, 97% of 2022 grads had entered employment, military service, or graduate school. Among the for-profit companies that hire the most graduates are Wells Fargo, IBM, Cisco, Deloitte, EY, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Oracle, McKinsey & Company, and Goldman Sachs. In the nonprofit sector, a large number of alumni are employed by AmeriCorps, NIH, Teach for America, and the Peace Corps. The average starting salary is $70,619. 18% of 2022 grads enrolled directly in graduate/professional school.

  • Enrollment: 20,210 (undergraduate); 11,739 (graduate)
  • Cost of Attendance: $27,036 (in-state); $60,040 (out-of-state)
  • Median SAT: 1450

Arizona State University

Academic Highlights: The faculty-to-student ratio is a fairly high 19:1, but not all classes call for stadium seating. In fact, 40% of course sections seat fewer than twenty students. Business is the concentration in which 22% of total bachelor’s degrees are conferred. Engineering (9%), biology (9%), and the health professions (7%) are the next three most popular. The WP Carey School of Business offers many highly ranked programs as does the Fulton Schools of Engineering.

Professional Outcomes: A healthy 83% percent of ASU graduates looking for work are employed within six months of earning their degrees. The median salary for an ASU grad is roughly $55,000. Among the school’s top fifty employers are Amazon, Apple, Intel, The Vanguard Group, and Walt Disney Company. Approximately one-fifth of recent grads enrolled in graduate school. Similar to employment, the size and scope of the university lead to many graduate pathways. Many grads continue at ASU itself, but some continue at various prestigious institutions.

  • Enrollment: 65,492
  • Cost of Attendance: $28,142 (in-state); $48,284 (out-of-state)
  • Median ACT: 23
  • Acceptance Rate: 90%
  • Retention Rate: 86%
  • Graduation Rate: 69%

Wellesley College

  • Wellesley, MA

Academic Highlights: There are 50+ departmental and interdisciplinary majors. Thirty-six percent of course sections have single-digit enrollments while 77% have 19 or fewer students. In addition, opportunities for participation in research with faculty members abound. Most programs possess sterling reputations, including chemistry, computer science, neuroscience, and political science, but the Department of Economics shines most brightly, leading many into PhD programs and high-profile careers. Economics, biology, and computer science are the most frequently conferred degrees.

Professional Outcomes : Six months after graduating, 97% of the Class of 2022 had achieved positive outcomes. Of the 76% of grads who were employed, 24% were working in the finance/consulting/business fields, 17% in education, 17% in internet and technology & engineering, and 15% in healthcare/life sciences. Top employers included JPMorgan Chase, Google, Boston Children’s Hospital, and Goldman Sachs. The average starting salary for one recent cohort was a solid $63k. Of the 20% of 2022 grads who directly entered an advanced degree program, common schools attended included Harvard, Columbia, Brown, Stanford, MIT, and Emory.

  • Enrollment: 2,447
  • Cost of Attendance: $84,240
  • Median SAT: 1490
  • Graduation Rate: 90%

Colby College

  • Waterville, ME

Academic Highlights: Offering 56 majors and 35 minors, Colby provides a classic liberal arts education with a high degree of flexibility and room for independent intellectual pursuits. A 10:1 student-to-faculty ratio is put to good instructional use as roughly two-thirds of courses have fewer than 19 students. Being a true liberal arts school, Colby has strengths across many disciplines, but biology, economics, and global studies draw especially high praise. These programs along with government and environmental science attract the highest number of students.

Professional Outcomes: Within six months of graduation, 93% of the Class of 2022 had either obtained jobs or were enrolled full-time in a graduate program. Eighteen percent of graduates enter the financial industry and large numbers also start careers in education, with government/nonprofit, STEM, and healthcare next in popularity. The Medical school acceptance rate over the past five years is 68%, nearly double the national average.

  • Enrollment: 2,299
  • Cost of Attendance: $86,720
  • Average SAT: 1485
  • Average ACT: 33
  • Acceptance Rate: 8%
  • Retention Rate: 93%

Vassar College

  • Poughkeepsie, NY

Academic Highlights: Vassar students have the choice of 50 majors and only three foundational curricular mandates, which means that there is plenty of room to explore electives and intellectual passions. A 7:1 student-to-faculty ratio leads to an average class size of 17 students, and 23% of all sections have an enrollment of nine or fewer. Professors are extremely available outside the classroom. The most popular majors are in the social sciences, biology, the visual and performing arts, foreign languages, and psychology.

Professional Outcomes: 93% of alums enjoy positive outcomes within six months of graduation, with 20% enrolling directly in a graduate or professional degree program. A solid number land at competitive companies like Google, Meta, EY, Deloitte, Microsoft, Citi, and Amazon. Elite universities such as Harvard, Penn, NYU, and Columbia are also among the top employers of former students, many of whom earn advanced degrees and enter academia. The school is one of the top 15 PhD producers.

  • Enrollment: 2,459
  • Cost of Attendance: $85,220
  • Median SAT: 1480
  • Acceptance Rate: 19%

University of Minnesota–Twin Cities

  • Minneapolis, MN

Academic Highlights: There are 150 majors available across eight freshman-admitting undergraduate colleges. 65% of class sections enroll 29 or fewer students. The most commonly conferred degrees are in biology (13%), business & marketing (11%), engineering (10%), the social sciences (10%), computer science (9%), and psychology (8%). The College of Science and Engineering and the Carlson School of Management have strong national reputations, and the chemistry, economics, psychology, and political science departments are also well-regarded.

Professional Outcomes: The top seven companies snatching up the largest number of recent grads are all companies headquartered in the state of Minnesota: Medtronic, Target, 3M, United Health Group, US Bank, and Cargill. Google, Apple, and Meta all employ hundreds of Twin Cities alumni. The mean starting salary for recent grads was $50k. With 130 graduate programs in science, art, engineering, agriculture, medicine, and the humanities, the University of Minnesota retains many of its graduates as they pursue their next degrees.

  • Enrollment: 39,248 (undergraduate); 15,707 (graduate)
  • Cost of Attendance: $33,032-$35,632 (in-state); $54,446-$57,046
  • Median SAT: 1370
  • Median ACT: 29
  • Acceptance Rate: 75%

Middlebury College

  • Middlebury, VT

Academic Highlights: Midd offers 50 departments and programs in which to major and minor. The school’s 9:1 student-faculty ratio allows 100% of courses to be taught by professors, not graduate assistants. Most classes are small; the mean class size is 16, and 14% of sections contain fewer than ten students. Middlebury is renowned for its Language Department as well as its programs in economics and international studies. The college has a robust international program (75 programs in 40 countries); over 50% of juniors take a semester abroad.

Professional Outcomes: Six months after graduating, 81% of the Class of 2022 had landed jobs and 12% were in graduate school. The most commonly held jobs fell under the categories of financial services (19%), consulting (14%), science and healthcare (14%), and media and technology (12%). Many Middlebury grads now enter tech-related fields; Google and Facebook are two of the leading employers alongside Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, Deloitte, Amazon, and JP Morgan. More than 100 alumni work in the US State Department.

  • Enrollment: 2,773 (undergraduate); 70 (graduate)
  • Cost of Attendance: $89,850
  • Median SAT: 1460
  • Acceptance Rate: 13%

University of Delaware

Academic Highlights: The University of Delaware offers 150 bachelor’s degree programs. Nearly one-third of students pursue a degree in either business (21%) or engineering (9%), two of the school’s highest-ranked departments. Nursing is popular, with 11% of degrees conferred being in the health professions. Other frequently pursued majors include the social sciences (10%), biology (7%), and education (5%). 62% of courses enroll fewer than 30 students. The university also has the oldest study abroad program in the nation, with 30% of undergrads participating.

Professional Outcomes: 94% of Class of 2022 grads quickly found their next destination. 66% were employed, with 74% taking jobs at for-profit companies, 16% at nonprofits, 7% in K-12 education, and 4% with a government entity. The greatest number of newly minted alums were hired by JPMorgan Chase & Co., KPMG, EY, ChristianaCare, and Deloitte. The median starting salary for this cohort was $62,000. 28% immediately pursued an advanced degree, with 62% entering master’s programs, 20% entering a professional program, and 9% beginning a PhD.

  • Enrollment: 18,066 (undergraduate); 4,557 (graduate)
  • Cost of Attendance: $33,718 (undergraduate); $57,358 (graduate)
  • Median SAT: 1280
  • Acceptance Rate: 72%
  • Graduation Rate: 82%

The Ohio State University — Columbus

  • Columbus, OH

Academic Highlights: There are 200+ undergraduate majors and 18 schools and colleges housed within OSU. Business sees the greatest percentage of degrees conferred at 18% followed by engineering (15%), health professions (10%), and the social sciences (9%). It makes sense that so many flock to the business and engineering schools as they are among the highest-rated undergraduate programs in their respective disciplines. 40% of sections enroll fewer than 20 students, and approximately 20% of students gain research experience.

Professional Outcomes: Upon receiving their diplomas, 56% of Class of 2022 graduates were entering the world of employment while 17% were already accepted into graduate or professional school.  Hordes of Buckeyes can be found at many of the nation’s leading companies. More than 2,000 alumni work for JPMorgan Chase, more than 1,000 are employed by Amazon, and more than 600 work for Google and Microsoft. Of the grads who directly matriculate into graduate or professional school, many continue in one of OSU’s own programs.

  • Enrollment: 45,728 (undergraduate); 14,318 (graduate)
  • Cost of Attendance: $27,241 (in-state); $52,747 (out-of-state)
  • Median SAT: 1340-1450
  • Median ACT: 29-32
  • Acceptance Rate: 53%
  • Graduation Rate: 88%

University of Georgia

Academic Highlights: UGA boasts seventeen distinct colleges and schools that offer 125+ majors. Business is the most commonly conferred undergrad degree, accounting for 29% of diplomas earned. It is followed by biology (10%), social sciences (8%), communication & journalism (8%), and psychology (7%). Top-ranked programs include animal science, business, communications, and public and international affairs. 49% of sections enroll fewer than 20 students, and no matter your major, UGA encourages you to conduct research with a member of the school’s faculty.

Professional Outcomes: 96% of the Class of 2022 was employed or continuing their education six months after graduation. Popular employers include Accenture, PricewaterhouseCoopers, the Walt Disney Company, and Deloitte. Salaries vary between colleges; engineering grads had a median starting salary of $65k while journalism and communication grads reported a $50k median. In 2022, 24% of graduates enrolled directly into a graduate/professional degree program, with the most commonly attended schools including Columbia, Duke, Emory, Georgia Tech, Penn, and UVA.

  • Enrollment: 30,714 (undergraduate); 9,893 (graduate)
  • Cost of Attendance: $28,142 (in-state); $48,538 (out-of-state)
  • Median SAT: 1310
  • Acceptance Rate: 43%

University of Florida

  • Gainesville, FL

Academic Highlights: With 16 colleges and 100 undergraduate majors to choose from, educational experiences are exceptionally diverse. The Warrington College of Business and the Wertheim College of Engineering are highly respected, so it’s no surprise that those two programs confer the greatest percentage of degrees—12% and 14%, respectively. Biology (11%), the social sciences (11%), and health professions (8%) are next in popularity. 53% of sections enroll fewer than 20 students, and 33% of students partake in an undergraduate research experience.

Professional Outcomes: By graduation day, 66% of the Class of 2022 had already procured a first job. The top occupational areas were engineering (13%), health care (13%), computer science (5%), and marketing (4%). 200+ Gator alumni can be found at top corporations like Google, EY, Raymond James, Deloitte, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, Oracle, and PwC. The average salary for all 2022 grads was $69k, with a high of $100k for computer science majors. Of those pursuing advanced degrees, a master’s degree was the most popular pursuit (63%) followed by law school (11%).

  • Enrollment: 34,552 (undergraduate); 20,659 (graduate)
  • Cost of Attendance: $23,530 (in-state); $45,808 (out-of-state)
  • Median SAT: 1400
  • Median ACT: 31

University of Connecticut

Academic Highlights: UConn is home to fourteen schools and colleges as well as 115+ undergraduate majors. The four most commonly conferred undergraduate degrees are in business (15%), engineering (12%), the social sciences (12%), and health professions/nursing (12%). In terms of prestige and national reputation, programs in business, pharmacy, and nursing carry a good deal of weight. The school also does a nice job of creating a balance of classroom experiences—53% of sections enroll fewer than 20 students and only 18% contain more than fifty.

Professional Outcomes: 90% of the Class of 2022 experienced a positive outcome (job, grad school, military, volunteer position) within six months of earning their degrees. Among the 59% who found employment, the largest numbers landed at Aetna, Cigna, PwC, The Hartford, Travelers, and Raytheon Technologies; the median starting salary was $62,400. Massive numbers of alumni are employed by Pratt & Whitney, Pfizer, IBM, and Deloitte. 30% of 2022 graduates immediately entered a graduate or professional program, with many choosing to stay at UConn.

  • Enrollment: 18,983 (undergraduate); 8,020 (graduate)
  • Cost of Attendance: $41,606 (in-state); $64,478 (out-of-state)
  • Median SAT: 1340
  • Acceptance Rate: 55%
  • Graduation Rate: 83%

University of Oregon

Academic Highlights: Over 80 degree programs are offered, and students flock in large numbers to the social sciences as 19% of degrees conferred fall under this umbrella. The next most popular academic pursuits are communication/journalism (14%), business (14%), psychology (9%), biology (8%) and the visual and performing arts (7%). The Lundquist College of Business and the College of Education have strong national reputations. The median class size is 20 students (37% contain less than that), and an impressive 80% of undergraduate students engage in some type of research activity.

Professional Outcomes: Members of the Class of 2022 already had their next destination lined up at graduation with 78% already employed or entering graduate school.  For 73% of that group, their outcomes related directly to the degree that they had just completed. More than 1,000 Oregon alumni work for Nike, and hundreds of others occupy offices at Intel, Amazon, Microsoft, Adidas, Google, Apple, and Salesforce. The median starting salary for a 2022 graduate was $51,000.

  • Enrollment: 19,565 (undergraduate); 3,598 (graduate)
  • Cost of Attendance: $35,721 (in-state); $64,302 (out-of-state)
  • Median SAT: 1260
  • Median ACT: 27
  • Acceptance Rate: 86%
  • Graduation Rate: 73%

Florida State University

  • Tallahassee, FL

Academic Highlights: A wide range of baccalaureate degrees—103 to be precise—are available at FSU. The student-to-faculty is a 17:1, which translates into somewhat larger class sizes. Ten percent of sections contain more than fifty students, and 4% have more than 100. However, that is balanced by the 66% of sections that contain fewer than twenty students. Twenty-three percent of degrees conferred fall under the business umbrella. The social sciences (15%), psychology (8%), biology (8%), and homeland security (6%) are next in popularity.

Professional Outcomes: Eighty-three percent of job-seeking Seminole grads receive at least one offer of employment within three months of graduation. The top five sectors employing 2022 grads are (in order) finance, technology, marketing, health, and engineering. Roughly one-third of 2022 Florida State grads elected to immediately pursue admission into an advanced degree program; 75% of those who apply receive at least one acceptance. A typical graduating class sees over 100 students accepted into medical schools and over 200 accepted into law schools.

  • Enrollment: 32,936
  • Cost of Attendance: $25,762 (In-State); $39,692 (Out-of-State)
  • Median SAT: 1300
  • Acceptance Rate: 25%
  • Graduation Rate: 85%

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

  • Champaign-Urbana, IL

Academic Highlights: Eight of UIUC’s fifteen schools cater to undergraduate students. There are 150 academic programs offered, including those at the acclaimed Grainger College of Engineering and Gies College of Business. In sheer volume of degrees conferred, engineering and business/marketing are tied at 19%, followed by the social sciences (9%) and psychology (6%). 39% of sections are capped at 19 students. 29% of undergraduates work with a faculty member on a research project; another 22% have some type of fieldwork, practicum, or clinical experience.

Professional Outcomes: 95% of the members of the Class of 2022 landed at their next destination within six months of graduation, with 38% matriculating directly into an advanced degree program. 57% were employed full-time; the most popular sectors were finance, consulting, healthcare, electronics, and education. Corporations landing the most recent Illini grads were KPMG, Deloitte, Epic Systems, EY, PwC, and Amazon. The average salary across all Class of 2022 majors was an extremely solid $75,000.

  • Enrollment: 35,120 (undergraduate); 21,796 (graduate)
  • Cost of Attendance: $35,926-$41,190 (in-state); $55,386-$63,290 (out-of-state)
  • Acceptance Rate: 79%

Michigan State University

  • East Lansing, MI

Academic Highlights: This highly regarded state institution boasts over 200 programs—undergraduate, graduate, and professional—across 17 degree-granting colleges. A 17:1 student-to-faculty ratio rates in the average range for public universities of MSU’s size and scope. Class sizes are a genuine mix of small seminars and giant lecture halls. 16% of the degrees conferred in 2022 were in the business/marketing category. The next most common degrees were earned in communication/journalism (12%), engineering (11%), and the social sciences (8%).

Professional Outcomes: Within months of strutting across the graduation stage, 56% of Class of 2022 members had landed full-time employment, 27% were pursuing advanced degrees, and 6% were still looking for a job. The top employers of this group included big names like General Motors, Ford Motor Company, Deloitte, Epic Systems, Target, PepsiCo, and Microsoft. The median starting salary earned was $60,000. Among the grads schools favored by recent alumni are the University of Michigan, New York University, Columbia University, and Boston University.

  • Enrollment: 39,201
  • Cost of Attendance: $27,805 (In-State); $55,189 (Out-of-State)
  • Median SAT: 1220
  • Acceptance Rate:
  • Retention Rate: 89%

University of Maryland, College Park

  • College Park, MD

Academic Highlights: Undergraduates can select from 100+ majors across twelve colleges. 18% of degrees are conferred in computer science, followed by the social sciences (13%), with  criminology, government and politics, and economics being the most popular majors.  Engineering (13%), business (11%), and biology (8%) are next in line. The School of Business, the School of Engineering, and the College of Journalism are all top-ranked, as are programs in computer science and criminology. 46% of sections enroll fewer than twenty students.

Professional Outcomes: Within six months of graduating, 96% of Class of 2022 grads had positive outcomes. 67% found employment; the companies/organizations that hired the greatest number of grads included Northrop Grumman, Deloitte, Amazon, and EY. Meta, Apple, and Google employ more than 200 alumni each.  The mid-50% salary range for 2022 grads was $55k-$83k. 21% of the Class of 2022 headed directly to graduate and professional school; 11% entered doctoral programs, 5% entered medical school, and 5% entered law school.

  • Enrollment: 30,353 (undergraduate); 10,439 (graduate)
  • Cost of Attendance: $31,540 (in-state); $60,918 (out-of-state)
  • Acceptance Rate: 84%

The College of Wooster

  • Wooster, OH

Academic Highlights: The College of Wooster receives high marks across the board in undergraduate teaching, senior capstone, undergraduate research, innovation, and value. With no graduate students, the faculty is wholly committed to undergraduate education and has an 11:1 student-to-faculty ratio. The most conferred degrees last year were in the social sciences (19%) and biology (17%). Next in popularity were psychology (6%), the physical sciences (6%), mathematics (6%), journalism (6%), visual/performing arts (6%), and computer science (5%).

Professional Outcomes: Within six months of leaving Wooster, 96% of job-seeking individuals had landed a job, and 72% were employed in their preferred field. Organizations hiring at least one recent grad include Bank of America, Ernst & Young, the FBI, Morgan Stanley, and Northrop Grumman. Over the past few years, 97% of graduate school applicants were accepted into their top-choice institution. Among recent grads, 54% left to pursue a master’s degree, 27% entered doctoral programs, 8% matriculated into medical school, and 3% began law school.

  • Enrollment: 1,967
  • Cost of Attendance: $73,550
  • Median SAT: 1350
  • Acceptance Rate: 56%
  • Retention Rate: 84%
  • Graduation Rate: 74%

Indiana University

  • Bloomington, IL

Academic Highlights: IU offers 200+ majors. The university’s 18:1 student-to-faculty ratio is not bad for a school of Indiana’s size, and it does make an effort to keep undergraduate classes on the small side. While there are a number of introductory courses that transpire in giant lecture halls, 37% of all sections contain no more than 19 students. Business/marketing is the most popular major accounting for 30% of the total degrees conferred and biology is second at 9%. IU’s computer science degree program is the school’s third most frequently conferred degree at 8%.

Professional Outcomes: Class of 2022 grads reached their next employment or graduate school destination at a 94% rate within six months of receiving their degrees. The median starting salary for A&S grads was $41,000. In the Kelley School of Business, 97% were placed successfully within six months, and the median starting salary was $67,000. Among the most frequently attended graduate schools by recent grads are Indiana Bloomington (including its own law and medical schools), Purdue, Loyola Chicago, Northwestern, and Columbia.

  • Enrollment: 35,660
  • Cost of Attendance: $25,170 (In-State); $53,860 (Out-of-State)
  • Acceptance Rate: 82%
  • Graduation Rate: 81%

Wake Forest University

  • Winston-Salem, NC

Academic Highlights: All freshmen enter the Undergraduate College, which offers 45 majors and 60 minors. Sporting a student-to-faculty ratio of 10:1, classes are kept on the small side with 59% of sections enrolling fewer than 20 students. 60% of students engage in hands-on research for academic credit. Wake Forest is strong across myriad disciplines, most notably chemistry, communication, accounting, finance, and international affairs. The most frequently conferred degrees are in business (22%), the social sciences (20%), journalism (8%), and biology (8%).

Professional Outcomes: Within six months of graduation, 97% of the Class of 2022 had found their next destination, with 71% starting their first professional job and 26% matriculating into a graduate program. Management/consulting, investment banking, and healthcare were the top three industries. Employers landing the highest numbers of alumni included national and multinational corporations IBM, Siemens, Volvo, Goldman Sachs, Disney, Deloitte, Dell, Gucci, PepsiCo, EY, and Nike. By the start of mid-career, Wake Forest alumni earn the second-highest median salary of any school in North Carolina.

  • Enrollment: 5,447 (undergraduate); 3,516 (graduate)
  • Cost of Attendance: $87,622
  • Acceptance Rate: 21%

University of Pittsburgh

  • Pittsburgh, PA

Academic Highlights: Pitt admits freshmen to the Dietrich School of Arts & Sciences, the College of Business Administration, the Swanson School of Engineering, and the School of Nursing. Pitt’s engineering and business schools are top-rated and among the most commonly chosen fields of study. Premed offerings are also top-notch, with majors in the health professions (12%), biology (11%), psychology (9%), and computer science (9%) rounding out the list of most popular majors. Pitt has a strong 13:1 student-to-faculty ratio; 42% of sections have an enrollment of under twenty students.

Professional Outcomes: Within a few months of graduating, 94% of 2022 grads entered full-time employment or full-time graduate or professional school. Engineering, nursing, business, and information sciences majors had 73-86% employment rates while other majors tended to flock to graduate school in large numbers. Employers scooping up the highest number of grads in one recent year included the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (170), PNC (57), BNY Mellon (36), and Deloitte (19). Median starting salaries fluctuated between $37k-65k depending on major.

  • Enrollment: 20,220 (undergraduate); 9,268 (graduate)
  • Cost of Attendance: $38,034-$43,254 (in-state); $56,400-$66,840 (out-of-state)
  • Median SAT: 1360
  • Acceptance Rate: 50%
  • Retention Rate: 92%

University of Iowa

  • Iowa City, IA

Academic Highlights: 200+ undergraduate majors, minors, and certificate programs are available across eight colleges, including the Tippie College of Business, which has a very strong reputation. The most commonly conferred degree is business (24%), with parks and recreation (10%), social sciences (8%), health professions (8%), engineering (7%), and communication & journalism (5%) next in popularity. Over half of its undergraduate sections enroll 19 or fewer students, and 30% of undergrads conduct or assist research.

Professional Outcomes: 96% of Class of 2022 grads found their first job or advanced degree program within six months of receiving their diploma. The most commonly entered industries were healthcare (23%), entertainment/the arts (14%), finance and insurance (11%), and marketing/PR (10%). Companies that employ hundreds of alumni include Wells Fargo, Collins Aerospace, Principal Financial Group, Amazon, Accenture, and Microsoft. The median salary for 2022 grads was $50,000. 28% of recent graduates went directly into graduate school; 76% remained at the University of Iowa.

  • Enrollment: 22,130 (undergraduate); 7,912 (graduate)
  • Cost of Attendance: $28,846-$32,259 (in-state); $50,809-$54,822 (out-of-state)
  • Median SAT: 1240
  • Median ACT: 25
  • Acceptance Rate: 85%

Pennsylvania State University — University Park

  • State College, PA

Academic Highlights: Penn State offers 275 majors and a number of top-ranked programs in a host of disciplines. The College of Engineering is rated exceptionally well on a national scale and is also the most popular field of study, accounting for 15% of the degrees conferred. The Smeal College of Business is equally well-regarded, earning high rankings in everything from supply chain management to accounting to marketing. It attracts 15% of total degree-seekers. 61% of classes have an enrollment below thirty students.

Professional Outcomes: By graduation, 70% of Nittany Lions have found their next employment or graduate school home. 98% of College of Business grads are successful within three months of exiting, flocking in large numbers to stellar finance, accounting, consulting, and technology firms. Hundreds of alumni work at Citi, Salesforce, and Meta, and more than 500 currently work at each of IBM, Deloitte, PwC, Amazon, EY, JPMorgan Chase, Microsoft, Google, and Oracle. 75% of 2022 grads employed full-time earned starting salaries greater than $50k.

  • Enrollment: 41,745 (undergraduate); 7,020 (graduate)
  • Cost of Attendance: $32,656 (in-state); $52,610 (out-of-state)

Macalester College

  • St. Paul, MN

Academic Highlights: Students can choose from roughly 40 majors and over 800 courses that are offered each academic year . Being an undergraduate-only institution, Macalester students enjoy the full benefits of the school’s 10:1 student-to-faculty ratio. The average class size is only 17 students, and 14% of class sections have single-digit enrollments. Macalester possesses strong offerings across many different disciplines. Programs in economics, international studies, and mathematics are among the best anywhere.

Professional Outcomes: Six months after graduating, 95% of the Macalester Class of 2022 had found employment, graduate school, or a fellowship. Employers of recent grads include ABC News, Google, Goldman Sachs, Dow Chemical Company, McKinsey & Company, the ACLU, the National Cancer Institute, and National Geographic . Across all sectors, the average starting salary for recent grads was above $62k. Sixty percent of Mac grads pursue an advanced degree within six years of earning their bachelor’s.

  • Enrollment: 2,175
  • Cost of Attendance: $79,890
  • Acceptance Rate: 28%
  • Retention Rate: 88%

Brandeis University

  • Waltham, MA

Academic Highlights: Brandeis offers 43 majors, the most popular of which are in the social sciences (18%), biology (17%), business (10%), psychology (8%), public administration (8%), and computer science (7%). The student-faculty ratio is 11:1, and 60% of courses contain nineteen or fewer students. Departments with a particularly strong national reputation include economics, international studies, and sociology as well as all of the traditional premed pathways including biology, and chemistry.

Professional Outcomes: Within six months of graduation, 98% of the Class of 2022 had found their way to employment (59%), graduate school (35%), or another full-time activity like travel or volunteer work (4%). Members of the Class of 2022 were hired by Red Hat, Deloitte, Nasdaq, NPR, and McKinsey & Company. The average starting salary for recent grads is $61k. A large contingent of grads elects to continue at Brandeis for graduate school. Many others go to BU, Columbia, Duke, Harvard, and Yale.

  • Enrollment: 3,687
  • Cost of Attendance: $86,242
  • Acceptance Rate: 39%

St. Olaf College

  • Northfield, MN

Academic Highlights: St. Olaf offers 45+ majors. Over half of all course sections contain fewer than twenty students, and there are multiple avenues through which students can pursue research experiences. The most commonly conferred degrees are in the social sciences (18%), the visual and performing arts (11%), biology (11%), psychology (8%), and foreign languages (7%). Many departments at St. Olaf have exceptional national reputations including religion, mathematics, and chemistry.

Professional Outcomes: In 2022, 98% of graduates had entered the workforce or graduate school within six months of receiving their diplomas. The great majority of alumni remain in the Greater Minneapolis-St. Paul area, which impacts what companies hire the most Oles. To name names, alumni have the largest representation at Target, UnitedHealth Group, the Mayo Clinic, Wells Fargo, Medtronic, 3M, and US Bank. The school is also a top producer of future PhDs.

  • Enrollment: 3,074
  • Cost of Attendance: $72,070
  • Acceptance Rate: 52%

University of Central Florida

  • Orlando, FL

Academic Highlights:  With a very high 29:1 student-to-faculty ratio, classes at UCF are fairly large as 23% contain 50 or more students. There are 100+ undergraduate majors at this institution. The most popular majors are business (17%), health professions (15%), psychology (10%), engineering (9%), and the visual and performing arts (7%). The school ranks well for facilitating social mobility and overall value and the engineering, computer science, and nursing programs all rank well on a national level.

Professional Outcomes:  Over two-thirds of recent graduates obtained employment immediately after earning their bachelor’s degree; one-quarter head right to graduate school. The median starting salary is $47,000 and the most commonly entered industries are hospital/healthcare, education, hospitality services, engineering, technology, financial, accounting, and marketing. The most popular graduate degrees pursued were in the sciences, health professions, education, and medicine.

  • Enrollment: 58,749
  • Cost of Attendance: $24,244 (In-State); $39,269 (Out-of-State)
  • Median SAT: 1270
  • Acceptance Rate: 41%
  • Graduation Rate: 76%

Dickinson College

  • Carlisle, PA

Academic Highlights: As students immerse themselves in one of 46 areas of concentration, Dickinson supports them with a 9:1 student-to-faculty ratio and average class size of fifteen, with 78% of classes being capped at 19 students. By discipline, the greatest number of degrees are conferred in the social sciences (27%), biology (12%), business (10%), psychology (7%), and foreign languages (5%). The college’s foreign language program, which features 13 offerings—including Arabic, Hebrew, and Portuguese—is recognized as one of the top programs in the country.

Professional Outcomes: One year after graduating, 95% of Dickinson grads have found jobs or full-time volunteer work, or have enrolled in graduate school. Companies employing more than 25 Dickinson alumni include Deloitte, IBM, Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Merck, EY, PNC, PwC, Google, and Amazon. It’s interesting that more alumni can be found in New York City than in Pennsylvania. Within five years of receiving their diplomas, 55-60% of recent grads have entered or finished graduate school.

  • Enrollment: 2,125
  • Cost of Attendance: $86,151
  • Median SAT: 1355
  • Acceptance Rate: 35%

University of South Carolina

  • Columbia, SC

Academic Highlights: UofSC is a massive enterprise, with 16 colleges/schools within the larger university. Even so, 70% of all sections contain 29 or fewer students. 32% of students take the opportunity to earn a degree in the business/marketing realm from the superb Darla Moore School of Business. The international business program is also top-ranked. Other popular disciplines include health services (11%), biology (10%), engineering (6%), and communication and journalism (6%).  The South Carolina Honors College is extremely hard to get into and is one of the finest in the entire country.

Professional Outcomes: 79% of recent grads landed at their next destination within six months with an average starting salary of over $55,000. Within the School of Business, 87% of 2023 grads were employed within three months and the average starting salary was $69k. Top employers of recent classes included KPMG, IBM, Aramark, Bank of America, Vanguard, PwC, and Marriot. The majority of those continuing their studies in a graduate/professional degree program did so at the University of South Carolina; other popular landing spots are Duke and Wake Forest.

  • Enrollment: 27,343 (undergraduate); 8,310 (graduate)
  • Cost of Attendance: $38,696 (in-state); $60,942 (out-of-state)
  • Graduation Rate: 78%

Purdue University — West Lafayette

  • West Lafayette, IN

Academic Highlights: Purdue offers over 200 majors at ten discipline-specific colleges, and 38% of course sections have an enrollment of 19 or fewer. Engineering and engineering technologies majors earn 34% of the degrees conferred by the university; the College of Engineering cracks the top ten on almost every list of best engineering schools. The Krannert School of Management is also well-regarded by employers; 11% of degrees conferred are in business. Other popular majors include computer science (10%) and agriculture (5%)—both are incredibly strong.

Professional Outcomes: Shortly after receiving their diplomas, 70% of 2022 grads headed to the world of employment while 24% headed to graduate/professional school. The top industries entered by grads in recent years are (1) health care, pharmaceuticals, and medical devices; (2) finance, insurance, and consulting; (3) manufacturing and machinery; (4) airline, aviation, and aerospace. Companies employing the greatest number of recent alumni were Amazon, Deloitte, PepsiCo, Labcorp, Lockheed Martin, and Microsoft. The average starting salary was $68k across all degree programs.

  • Enrollment: 37,949 (undergraduate); 12,935 (graduate)
  • Cost of Attendance: $22,812 (in-state); $41,614 (out-of-state)
  • Median SAT: 1330

SUNY – Geneseo

  • Geneseo, NY

Academic Highlights:  SUNY Geneseo is one of the top public liberal arts honors colleges in the United States and it proudly offers 150+ academic programs. It has a 16:1 student-to-faculty ratio and class sizes vary, with 59% enrolling between 20 and 49 students. A rarity for colleges in 2024, the most commonly conferred degree is in education (19%), followed by business (15%), psychology (15%), the social sciences (15%), and biology (12%).

Professional Outcomes:  In surveying the Class of 2022, SUNY Geneseo found that 80% of graduates had achieved a positive outcome within six months of earning their bachelor’s degree. Most of the starting salaries were in the $40k-$60k range and popular employers included KPMG, Epic, The Walt Disney Company, AmeriCorps, and the US Army. Those pursuing a grad school path most often landed at Syracuse, RIT, Binghamton University, Stony Brook University, and the University at Buffalo.

  • Enrollment: 4,136
  • Cost of Attendance: $24,346 (In-State); $34,586 (Out-of-State)
  • Median ACT: 26
  • Graduation Rate: 72%

We hope you have found our list of the Best Colleges for Education Majors to be useful and informative as you continue your college search process. We also invite you to check out some of our other resources and tools including:

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  • Best Colleges by Major

Andrew Belasco

A licensed counselor and published researcher, Andrew's experience in the field of college admissions and transition spans two decades. He has previously served as a high school counselor, consultant and author for Kaplan Test Prep, and advisor to U.S. Congress, reporting on issues related to college admissions and financial aid.

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phrasal verb

Definition of major in, examples of major in in a sentence.

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'major in.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

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“Major in.” Dictionary , Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Apr. 2024.

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What is a major? What is a minor?

A student pilot in Waterloo's aviation program leans forward as she prepares to land on a runway

A student in Waterloo's Science and Aviation program prepares to land at the Waterloo Waterloo Flight Centre.

Applying to university can mean learning some new terminology. Here are some common terms and ways to tailor your degree to your interests.

What is a major?

A major is the subject that's the main focus of your studies in university.

Majors include Biology, Environment and Business, Health Sciences, Geological Engineering, Pure Mathematics, Psychology, and more. Most of the 40 or so courses you'll take to earn your degree will be in your major. All students normally have a major.

The terms major and program are often used interchangeably. View Waterloo's majors/programs .

What is a minor?

A minor is a group of courses in a particular subject or theme that complements your main area of study.

Minors require 8-10 courses to complete (out of the 40 or so needed for your degree) and can be related or unrelated to the main focus of your studies, i.e., your major.

There are many minors available at Waterloo , allowing you to easily combine two or more subjects. Minors are optional.

What is an option?

Options are available only within your home faculty.

For example, only students within the Faculty of Engineering can choose Engineering options . An option provides depth to your degree and usually requires six to eight courses.

What is a specialization?

Specializations are available only within your major.

These require four to seven courses and will be closely related to your major. For example, only students majoring in English can choose the Digital Media Studies or Technical Writing specializations.

What is a degree?

A university degree is awarded to students who have successfully completed a specific number of courses or credits in a particular field of study.

An undergraduate degree is what you would earn after high school. There are also two levels of graduate degrees: master's and doctoral or PhD.

What is a double major or joint honours?

In some programs, you can choose a double major or joint honours degree. This lets you really focus on two main areas of interest. Of the 40 or so courses needed to earn your degree, nearly all of them would be in your two majors.

You can choose two majors in the same faculty, e.g., Political Science and Spanish (both within the Faculty of Arts). You can also choose majors in different faculties, e.g., Environment, Resources and Sustainability (Faculty of Environment) and Biology (Faculty of Science).

If you choose a minor, option, specialization, double major, or joint honours, it will appear on your university diploma when you graduate.

For example, you might graduate with a Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in English, a minor in biology, and a creative writing specialization. Minors, options, and specializations aren't available in all programs. And in some programs, you can do a couple of minors, options, or specializations.

If all these choices are confusing, just email our Visitors Centre and they'll connect you to the right person. Or contact the recruitment co-ordinator for your faculty/program of interest and they'd be happy to help.

Other common questions

What's the difference between program and major.

Program and major are often used interchangeably.

At Waterloo, your major is your program when you apply to it directly from high school, e.g., Kinesiology, Geomatics, Civil Engineering. These are also called entry programs because you "enter" university through them.

In other cases, you'll apply to a program such as Honours Arts or Honours Science and then choose a major such as History or Biology.

What is an undergraduate program?

An undergraduate program is the first level of university studies and what you study after finishing high school.

It normally takes three to five years to complete and leads to a Bachelor's or Baccalaureate degree, e.g., Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Mathematics, Bachelor of Science. Students pursuing an undergraduate degree are called undergraduate students.

Once you finish your undergraduate studies, you can apply to a graduate or professional program (e.g., Master's degree, law school, medical school, PhD). Waterloo offers more than 180 graduate programs .

What is a faculty?

A faculty is made of up academic departments and professional schools that are home to programs, professors and advisors, research labs and classrooms, as well as study and social spaces.

There are six faculties at Waterloo : Arts, Engineering, Environment, Health, Mathematics, and Science.

How do you choose a major, minor, option, etc.?

If you have questions about majors, minors, options. or specializations, contact the faculty that offers your program for advice. You can also email our Visitors Centre if you're unsure who to contact.

Once you're a Waterloo student, academic advisors can help plan which courses you'd like to take, including any minors, options, or specializations (if those are possible with your major).

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The University of Waterloo acknowledges that much of our work takes place on the traditional territory of the Neutral, Anishinaabeg and Haudenosaunee peoples. Our main campus is situated on the Haldimand Tract, the land granted to the Six Nations that includes six miles on each side of the Grand River. Our active work toward reconciliation takes place across our campuses through research, learning, teaching, and community building, and is co-ordinated within the Office of Indigenous Relations .

College of Education grad program ranks in Top 40 among U.S. public universities

The Purdue University College of Education ranks #48 in 2024 Best Education Schools – Graduate  Education , according to the 2024 U.S. News & World Report rankings released Apr. 9. This is an increase from #49 in 2023.

Education is among the five top-ranked academic disciplines at Purdue ranked by the USNWR .

U.S. News and World Report (2024) Best Graduate School - Education #48 in the U.S. (Top 19%) #37 Among American Public Universities #2 in Indiana

“We are #2 in Indiana, and in the top 19% nationally,” said Wayne E. Wright , College of Education associate dean for research, graduate programs, and faculty development.

This ranking places Purdue’s College of Education graduate program in the Top 40 among U.S. public universities, at #37.

“While this is a very small improvement over our ranking last year, it is evidence that our graduate programs are strengthening — especially in the area of research,” said Phillip J. VanFossen , interim dean of the College. “In fact, the College has one of the highest levels of research productivity at Purdue.”

“We are thrilled to see our graduate program move even higher in the 2024 U.S. News and World Report Rankings,” Wright said. “We truly have outstanding programs and faculty who are dedicated to teaching and providing our students with highest quality education.”

U.S. News & World Report is a recognized leader in ranking colleges, programs, and graduate schools. Each year, Purdue’s College of Education strives to continually improve its programs and relies on the rankings to help promote and serve as a recruiting tool for prospective students seeking a quality online educational experience.

U.S. News and World Report rankings of the 2024 Best Graduate Schools – Education programs   

Source: Wayne E. Wright, [email protected]

major in education meaning

Will the Supreme Court's GI Bill ruling mean more money for vets?

Tuesday's Supreme Court ruling on veterans education benefits could provide an extra year of federal tuition payments to millions of student veterans, but when officials might start doling out the payouts - if at all - remains unclear.

In the 7-2 ruling , justices said that veterans can use both the Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits and Montgomery GI Bill benefits to pay for college classes if they meet eligibility for both programs.

Veterans Affairs officials had required veterans attending school to choose one and forfeit the other. But in the opinion for the majority of the court, Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson stated that "if service members serve for long enough, they may be entitled to both."

As a result, advocates say, significant changes in how veterans education benefits are paid out could happen in the next few months.

Supreme Court rules in favor of veteran who sued over GI Bill limits

"That ruling is pretty clear - you can use both," said retired Lt. Col. Elizabeth Kubala, executive director of Syracuse University's Veterans Legal Clinic. "When there is a significant ruling like this, then a federal agency needs to take steps to implement it. So it will be interesting to see what VA does next."

In a statement, Veterans Affairs officials said they are still reviewing the decision. Lawyers involved in the case have said as many as 1.7 million veterans could immediately qualify for more education benefits under the ruling, but acknowledge that it could be a while before anyone sees that money.

"I fear that VA will try to take a very narrow view in interpreting this," said Timothy McHugh, an attorney with the law firm Troutman Pepper, which handled the case. "And if they do take that position, that will be the next legal fight."

How much could student vets get?

Most veterans attending college today with federal financial support use the Post-9/11 GI Bill program , a generous benefit passed in 2008 that awards eligible veterans 36 months of tuition payouts, housing stipends and other financial assistance.

To be eligible for the full Post-9/11 benefits, troops need to have served at least three years on active duty since 2001. Eligibility to transfer the benefit to a spouse or child requires additional years of service.

Over the course of a four-year degree program, the total value of the Post-9/11 GI Bill package can exceed $200,000, depending on an individual's school and housing situation.

The Montgomery GI Bill program isn't quite as generous. Eligible veterans can receive up to $2,358 for tuition costs a month, or about $113,000 over the course of a four-year degree. There is no housing stipend or other financial help.

To be eligible for that benefit, veterans needed to serve at least three years on active duty and pay into the Montgomery GI Bill program, at a cost of $100 a month for their first year in the ranks.

Until now, VA officials have made veterans choose one of the two programs, saying that federal rules prohibit individuals from drawing upon both.

But Tuesday's reversal of that stance by the Supreme Court centered on Jim Rudisill , a 43-year-old Army veteran who tried to use both and sued when VA officials blocked that move.

In his case, Rudisill served eight years on active duty over several different non-consecutive enlistments. He used parts of both benefits, but after hitting the 36-month limit, was told that he could not access any additional education stipends.

Federal rules limit any individual from receiving two education benefits at the same time, or receiving more than 48 months of education benefits. But even with that cap, Rudisill argued that he was entitled to 12 more months of payouts.

For veterans who have exhausted their Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits, the ruling could mean an additional 12 months of Montgomery GI Bill payouts to finish a degree program or start a new one, provided they served at least six years on active duty (three years each to qualify separately for the two programs).

For veterans who haven't yet tapped into either benefit, the ruling could set off a complicated calculus of which stipends to use or save, depending on personal and family education goals.

An individual could potentially trigger the Montgomery GI Bill to attend community college classes while saving the Post-9/11 GI Bill for an eligible dependent in the future, since the latter benefit can be transferred while the Montgomery GI Bill cannot.

When will students get answers?

McHugh said his firm already has potential clients ready to sue the government if they refuse to allow that benefit flexibility.

"It's clear from this ruling that everyone who served six years or more and was told they couldn't access both [benefits] now has 12 additional months of benefits coming," he said. "The sky is the limit."

In previous court filings, VA officials estimated that only a few thousand veterans would qualify for both benefits if Rudisill won his case, saying that multiple periods of service before and after 2001 made his situation unusual.

But Kubala said Tuesday's Supreme Court ruling does not make that distinction. As such, anyone who served six years since 2001 could be eligible for the expanded benefits, a much larger pool.

"And so it's going to be important for VA to offer clear and quick guidance on this issue," she said. "VA is a large federal agency and these reviews take time. But given how many vets could potentially use these benefits as early as this fall, they need to act quickly."

Veterans Affairs officials have not given a timeline for when they may issue new guidance. In a statement, VA press secretary Terrence Hayes said the department is "committed to helping veterans get the world-class education they've earned so they can continue successful careers after leaving the military."

For now, that leaves outside advocates without any specifics to give to veterans about what education benefits they may have available in the future.

In a message to members this week, officials from Student Veterans of America said they are working with VA leaders, lawyers and education staff on the potential impact of the situation. Leaders from Veterans Education Success in a statement said the ruling should allow veterans to access both benefits "in direct contrast to how the Department of Veterans Affairs has administered the programs."

VA already pays out more than $8 billion in education payments annually. The Supreme Court could potentially add hundreds of millions more to that total, although actual spending will depend on how many veterans opt to continue their college classes.

For now, the only veteran clearly covered by the ruling appears to be Rudisill, who had hoped to use the extra education benefits to attend Yale Divinity School and become an Army chaplain.

Rudisill said he no longer expects to use the stipend for that, but he hopes other veterans are afforded those kinds of opportunities.

"This fight was for all military veterans who, like me, were denied what they were promised after their service to our country," he said in a statement. "It has been humbling to represent the veterans' community, and I am so grateful for my legal team and the court's decision here."

Will the Supreme Court's GI Bill ruling mean more money for vets?

Watch CBS News

Biden is canceling $7.4 billion in student debt for 277,000 borrowers. Here's who is eligible.

By Aimee Picchi

Edited By Alain Sherter

Updated on: April 12, 2024 / 3:29 PM EDT / CBS News

The Biden administration on Friday said it's canceling $7.4 billion in student debt for 277,000 borrowers, with the recipients scheduled to receive emails today to alert them to their loan discharges. 

The latest effort extends the debt relief provider under President Joe Biden after the Supreme Court last year blocked  his administration's plan for broad-based student loan forgiveness. With the latest batch of loan cancellations, the White House said it has forgiven about $153 billion in debt for 4.3 million student borrowers. 

Biden, who had made student loan relief a major campaign pledge, is tackling an issue that affects about 43 million Americans with a combined  $1.7 trillion in student debt. It's a burden that some borrowers and their advocates say has harmed their ability to save for a home or achieve financial milestones, an issue that was echoed by Education Secretary Miguel Cardona in a conference call with reporters. 

"I talked to a teacher in New York this week who took out a loan for $30,000," Cardona said Friday, "and after over a decade of paying and being a teacher the debt was $60,000, and she was saying that the interest was so high that the payments that she was making wasn't even touching her principal."

He added, "We are fixing a broken system. We're relentless and taking steps to transform a broken system into one that works people across the country."

Here's what to know about who is eligible for the latest round of forgiveness.

Who qualifies for the student loan forgiveness?

Three groups of people qualify under the latest round of debt relief, the White House said. 

  • $3.6 billion for 206,800 borrowers enrolled in the SAVE plan.

About $3.6 billion will be forgiven for nearly 207,000 borrowers enrolled in the Saving on a Valuable Education (SAVE) plan, an income-driven repayment program, or IDR, that the Biden administration created last year. 

The White House said borrowers who are getting their debt discharged under SAVE had taken out smaller loans for their college studies. The plan allows people to receive forgiveness after they made at least 10 years of payments if they originally took out $12,000 or less in loans to pay for college; borrowers with larger loans are eligible after 20 or 25 years of repayment, depending on what types of loans they have. 

 "You sacrifice and you've saved for a decade or more to make your student loan payments, and you originally borrowed $12,000 or less, you're going to see relief," Cardona told reporters. "An overwhelming number of those who qualify for SAVE were eligible for Pell grants and come from low- and middle-income communities."

  • $3.5 billion for 65,700 borrowers in income-repayment plans.

These borrowers will receive forgiveness through "administrative adjustments" to repayment plans where loan servicers had made it tougher for some borrowers to qualify for relief.  

"These are people who paid for a long time but were being deprived of relief because of administrative and servicing failures," Cardona said. "These people met the contract of their loan" and will receive forgiveness.

  • $300 million for 4,600 borrowers through Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF).  

The PSLF program is designed to help public servants like teachers and government employees achieve debt forgiveness after 10 years of repayment. It's a program that started in 2007 but had been plagued with complex rules that effectively hampered people from getting their debt discharged, with only 7,000 receiving loan forgiveness prior to the Biden administration. 

With the latest round of discharges, the Biden administration has forgiven $62.8 billion in loans for 876,000 borrowers through PSLF. 

Are there legal challenges to Biden's debt forgiveness plans?

In two separate lawsuits, Republican attorneys general in 18 states are pushing to have the SAVE plan tossed and to halt any further student debt cancellation. They say the SAVE plan oversteps Biden's authority and makes it harder for states to recruit employees. They also contend the plan undermines a separate cancellation program that encourages careers in public service.

It's unclear what the suits could mean for loans that have already been canceled. A court document filed by Kansas' attorney general says it's "unrealistic to think that any loan forgiveness that occurs during this litigation will ever be clawed back."

—With reporting by the Associated Press.

  • Biden Administration
  • Student Loan

Aimee Picchi is the associate managing editor for CBS MoneyWatch, where she covers business and personal finance. She previously worked at Bloomberg News and has written for national news outlets including USA Today and Consumer Reports.

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