By the Numbers: Trends Among Majors

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The Appalachian Online

Tommy Culkin

Appalachian State University has earned a reputation for its wide variety of courses and programs of study for students to pursue.

According to Mike Mayfield, executive vice chancellor of student affairs, Appalachian offers 88 majors, and the number jumps to 177 when concentrations within majors are accounted for.

When students choose their major, there is a growing trend towards career-safe paths and away from the arts.

The five most popular majors are health and exercise science, curriculum and instruction, communication, government and justice studies, and management.

According to the online database N.C. Tower, Appalachian students who received a Bachelor’s degree in those majors had a post-graduation employment rate slightly or well above 75 percent.

By contrast, the five least popular majors all lack safe job prospects after graduation. The least popular majors are Geology, Philosophy and Religion, Geography and Planning, Fermentation Studies and Appalachian Studies.

Although NC Tower lacks data on Appalachian’s Fermentation Studies and Appalachian Studies programs, the post-graduation employment rate for the other three least popular majors are all below 75 percent. For geology majors the employment rate is only 45 percent.

Approximately 66 percent of Appalachian State students major or intend to major in the College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Health Science or the Walker College of Business.

Only 15 percent of intended and declared majors fall in the College of Fine and Applied Arts.

Mayfield believes this is the result of a cultural change caused by the downturn of the economy.

“What you see over the last five years with the recession is students, and maybe even more so their parents, became much more focused on career oriented majors,” Mayfield said.

A common trend in Appalachian’s various programs of study is the clear presence of traditional gender roles, evidenced by drastic gender balance disparities.

Despite this, Mayfield says the balance has been slowly improving over the last several years.

“We’ve seen significant change in the past decade in terms of gender balance in [traditionally gendered] majors,” Mayfield said.

The most gendered major by percentage is Communication Science and Disorders, which is 98 percent female. The most gendered major in terms of enrollment disparities is Nursing, which has 549 females and 73 males. The most male-dominated major is Computer Science, which is 92.9 percent male.

The data gives insight into the student life and culture of Appalachian State as a whole. A tendency towards majors that lead to secure jobs indicates a strong career oriented mindset among students.

Story by Tommy Culkin, News Reporter