CareerBuilder Survey Lists College Degrees with the Greatest Growth and Declines

Posted By Terri Williams on October 26, 2015 at 4:18 pm
CareerBuilder Survey Lists College Degrees with the Greatest Growth and Declines

As the economy ebbs and flows, and supply and demand changes in certain fields, students’ choices of major change along with it. From 2010 through 2014, fewer college students pursued degrees in social sciences and humanities, for example, while STEM majors took home half of the 10 fastest-growing degrees awarded during this time frame.

CareerBuilder and Economic Modeling Specialists International recently released a report of which majors are experiencing the most growth and the greatest declines:

College Degrees With the Most Growth

Degree Growth
1 Science technologies/technicians 49%
2 Natural resources and conservation 45%
3 Parks, recreation, leisure and fitness studies 44%
4 Multi/interdisciplinary studies 36%
5 Mathematics and statistics 35%
6 Public administration and social service professions 33%
7 Computer and information sciences and support 32%
8 Precision production 30%
9 Homeland security, law enforcement, firefighting 27%
10 Engineering 26%


College Degrees With the Greatest Decline*

Degree Decline
1 Military technologies and applied science 30%
2 Library science 17%
3 Education 9%
4 History 8%
5 Construction trades 6%
6 Philosophy and religious studies 3%
7 English language and literature/letters 2%
8 Foreign languages, literature and linguistics 2%
9 Architecture and related sciences 1%

*Only 9 program categories experienced significant declines

What’s behind these trends?

According to Crystal Spraggins, SHRP, a Philadelphia-based workplace consultant who blogs at HRBlogVOCATE, the public has been inundated with media reports that the jobs and the money are in STEM majors, and she thinks that perhaps students are listening.  “While the market is looking up, Gen Z – and their parents – have the benefit of seeing how Gen Y has fared, and they may be deciding that it’s time for less idealism and a little more practicality when it comes to college majors,” explains Spraggins.

Spraggins may be right. Even among the fastest-growing non-STEM majors, there seems to be a correlation with the most in-demand careers.

For example, through 2022, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 23% growth rate for medical and health services managers and a 21% growth rate for social and community services managers. Demand for recreation workers with a formal education will grow by 14%.

On the other hand, there also seems to be correlation between the degrees with declining numbers and careers with declining market demand. Librarians can expect a 7% growth rate, while historian jobs will only increase by 6%.  Writers and authors should brace for a dismal 3% job growth rate. However, demand for architects – which is 9th on the list of declining majors – is expected to increase by 17%.

Jennifer Lasater, Kaplan University’s Vice President of Employer and Career Services, says it’s great to see growth in STEM majors that can meet the accelerated demand for qualified workers in those fields, but she also wants students to find the right fit. “Students need to take the time to explore and then select programs of study that meet their interests as well as strengths, since any employer will look for not only the hard skills, but also the soft skills needed in order to work in today’s professional society.”

Terri Williams
Terri Williams graduated with a B.A. in English from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Her education, career, and business articles have been featured on Yahoo! Education, U.S. News & World Report, The Houston Chronicle, and in the print edition of USA Today Special Edition. Terri is also a contributing author to "A Practical Guide to Digital Journalism Ethics," a book published by the Center for Digital Ethics and Policy at Loyola University Chicago.

You May Also Like