40 years of college majors
NPR has a wonderful interactive graph that allows you see what % of students were majoring in a particular topic from 1970 to the present. A few lessons are clear. The NPR article notes the rise of business and the decline of education. Health is also on the rise. A few other trends are also worth noting. Nearly all social science and humanities have declined in both relative and absolute numbers. Sociology is typical. In 1970, 34,000 graduates accounted for about 4% of the total. The number has declined to 30,000 for about 1.8% of the total.
Some exceptions are easy to understand. Computer science increased eight fold in relative size. Other exceptions are puzzling. In a world of shrinking journalism, how are communications and journalism getting more students? Is it driven by the modern media environment?
Concluding note: This is brutal news for the graduate education in the arts and sciences. They’ve built themselves on a model of hiring many PhD students so they could teach massive lectures. At the big public flagships, where most doctoral education happens, this is sustainable. The problem is graduation – the jobs are simply not there as people have collectively shifted from arts and sciences to vocational majors.