Once again, business is the most popular undergraduate major in the U.S. But after years of dramatic growth, the most recent Digest of Education Statistics shows the major’s popularity may be dipping.
The Digest of Education Statistics is a yearly publication by the National Center for Education Statistics which provides statistical information about American education. A table published in the 2015 Digest shows the number of bachelor’s degrees bestowed in different areas of study from 1970 to 2014.
Business has been the most popular major since 1980, with the number of degrees climbing every year, except between 1990 and 1995. Though the business major remains far more popular than any other field of study today, the extreme popularity growth has stopped again, with nearly 10,000 fewer degrees received in 2014 than in 2011.
Though the downward trend is unexpected after so many years of business major growth, it doesn’t seem to be affecting top schools. Poets&Quants spoke with three business school deans, and all say their programs haven’t seen a decline in popularity at all. On the contrary, they seem to be getting more popular.
Kenneth Freeman, Dean Of The Boston University Questrom School Of Business
Freeman says the Questrom undergraduate program has not seen any decline in interest. In fact, he says, since 2010 — roughly around the same time the 2015 Digest reports the dip in undergraduate business degrees — the Questrom undergraduate population has grown by 25%. The growth, he adds, is likely due to the fact that applications to the Questrom undergraduate program have doubled since 2010.
Freeman attributes the program’s growth to the quality of the program, the prestige of BU, and the school’s prime location in Boston.
Questrom is the most selective undergraduate program at BU, admitting only 22% of the applicants. This fall, Freeman says, it set a record with more than 8,000 students applying for a target class of 370 students.