Popular Majors You’ve Never Heard Of

Are you undecided on a major, but not one to follow the crowds? Then this one’s for you. Well, sort of. A team of experts at Zippia, an organization with a mission to help college students and recent grads better navigate their career choices, did some U.S. Census Bureau data crunching. Their findings show popular college majors by state, but with an intriguing twist: college majors that are disproportionately high in popularity across the U.S.

In other words, it’s a look at majors that don’t rank high in overall popularity, yet they are in high demand in a particular state.


The analysis is called location quotient and it was examined thanks to extracted data from the Census Bureau’s 2012-2016 American Community Survey. The most disproportionately common majors across America show that there’s plenty to choose from if you seek something that maybe isn’t as trendy as business and economics, yet still prominent.

Findings show there are popular majors as unconventional as Forestry (found to be in high demand in Oregon) and as seemingly unknown as Soil Science (overly popular in Wisconsin). Here’s how the data was formulated. Location quotients for each state are determined by first quantifying how concentrated particular majors are in a given state compared to the rest of the country. Researchers take the total number of people who earned a degree in a specific major, divide it by the state’s total population, then multiply by 100,000 The same calculation is then performed on a national level. Finally, the state number is divided by the national number to produce the final location quotient for each major.

According to the report, the major found to be most disproportionately high in popularity in a given state is Maine’s Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering. Here, Maine had the highest location quotient of 13.84. On the low end — with a location quotient of 2.04 — is Pennsylvania where the most disproportionately common major is Information Sciences. Some interesting correlations between location and the level of popularity can also be seen. For instance, Agricultural Economics and Agriculture Production being overly popular in much of the Midwest and Geology and Earth Science and Oceanography being popular in areas such as Alaska and Hawaii, respectively.

Source: Zippia


Setting location quotients aside, Zippia reports that a more generic look at just the overall most popular majors by state leaves you with just a handful of disciplines; two of which fall under the umbrella of business. These are Accounting, Nursing, General Education, Psychology, Elementary Education, and Business Administration. From state to state, Business Administration is seen to be the most popular major in the U.S. It leads the way in 36 of 50 states and is most heavily concentrated in California, Texas, and Florida. Meanwhile, Accounting reigns supreme as the most sought after major in the state of New Jersey and Agricultural Economics is the most popular major in Kansas.