You might be surprised to learn that, prior to the early 1800s, all US college students were taught the same basic set of subjects. It was the University of Virginia that changed academic history forever by offering different programs that students could choose between. Other colleges and universities soon began to follow suit, introducing various academic concentrations, or “majors” — a term that wasn’t coined until the late 1870s.
It’s hard to believe that, from those humble beginnings, there are now hundreds of majors for undergraduates to choose from, ranging across such diverse fields as business, engineering, computing, education, medicine, political science, criminal justice, and the arts. However, while the sheer range of options available today makes it easier to follow your passions, it can also make choosing a path more difficult — especially in an era when forces like globalization, automation, connectivity, social networking, Big Data, and AI are radically and rapidly reshaping the economic landscape.
In the face of so much uncertainty — an uncertainty which, since early 2020, has only been compounded by COVID-19 — many undergraduates want to know:
- What are the best bachelor degrees for the future?
- What skills will make me most marketable to prospective employers?
- What types of careers have the brightest financial outlook?
- What are the most useful or employable majors?
By examining factors like average salary, skills shortages, and projected industry growth, this guide will help you find the answers.
What Are the Most Useful Degrees and Best Majors for the Future Job Market?
Below, you’ll find some of the top majors employers look for in 2020 and beyond. All of the majors listed below are offered at National University, many in both online and on-campus formats. To explore even more options, browse our complete list of accredited undergraduate degree programs, or streamline your search using our program finder. You can also contact our undergraduate admissions office to speak with an enrollment counselor.
Major #1: BS in Accountancy
What can I do with a Bachelor of Science in Accountancy? Not only can this type of degree lead to lucrative work as a personal or corporate accountant — it can also open the doors to a range of related careers in auditing. For example, you might perform internal audits for businesses, or audit entities or individuals on behalf of government agencies like the IRS or FBI. In these roles, you’ll be examining financial documents and business records to ensure compliance with state and federal tax laws. As an accountant, you’ll also help your clients to manage their finances more effectively.
How fast is the accounting and auditing industry growing? The accounting and auditing industry is projected to grow by 6 percent from 2018 through 2028, a rate of growth the BLS classifies as being “as fast as average.”
Major #2: BS in Computer Science
What can I do with a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science (BSCS)? Perhaps the better question is, what can’t be done with a BS in computer science? This versatile, in-demand undergrad degree can lead into numerous occupations, including but not limited to AI engineer, data scientist, database administrator, information security (cybersecurity) analyst, mobile app designer, network architect, product manager, software engineer, systems analyst, and web developer.
How much money can I earn with a bachelor’s degree in computer science? The answer depends on what occupation you choose. To provide a few examples of median pay using BLS data, network architects earn over $112,000, database administrators earn over $93,000, and systems analysts earn over $90,000.
How fast is the computer science industry growing? The BLS expects the computer and information technology sector to grow by 12 percent in the coming decade, which is “much faster than the average for all occupations.”
Major #3: BA in Marketing
What can I do with a Bachelor of Arts in Marketing? With a Bachelor of Arts in Integrated Marketing Communications, you can transition into virtually any industry that interests you. Jobs you can get with an undergraduate degree in marketing include account executive, brand manager, digital media director, ecommerce manager, market research analyst, paid search specialist, and SEO manager.
How much money can I earn with a bachelor’s degree in marketing? The answer depends on your specific occupation. For instance, the BLS reports that marketing managers earn a mean annual salary exceeding $147,000, while market research analysts earn a mean salary just under $71,000. These figures are current as of May 2018, the most recent year for which BLS data is available.
What sort of job outlook can I expect with an undergrad degree in marketing? The BLS projects 8 percent growth — considered “faster than average” — for advertising, promotions, and marketing managers.
Major #4: BS in Nursing
What can I do with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)? A BS in nursing enables you to pursue many different types of careers within the nursing profession. Some examples include pediatric nurse, public health nurse, critical care nurse, and nurse manager.
How much demand is there for nurses? The American Association of Colleges of Nursing, or AACN, reports a nationwide “shortage of Registered Nurses (RNs) that is expected to intensify as Baby Boomers age.” Due to this shortage, which is worse in some states than others, there is tremendous continuing demand for RNs — particularly in locations where the shortage is most pronounced, such as California, Texas, and New Jersey. At the national level, the BLS reports an RN job growth outlook of 12 percent — “much faster than average” — from 2018 through 2028.
What other sorts of nursing degrees are available to undergraduates at NU? National University offers four distinct nursing degrees for undergraduates. In addition to our general BSN program (Generic Entry), we also offer an RN to BSN program (RN Completion), along with two BSN programs located in California, where the U.S. has been hardest hit by the nursing shortage.
Can You Get a Bachelor’s Degree Online?
In many cases you can earn your bachelor’s degree online. While much of your coursework may be completed online, some majors may require you to complete some aspects of the work — such as practicums or labs — in an in-person environment. Yes, subject to certain limitations. For example, the Generic Entry Nursing BS requires on-campus coursework, due to the hands-on nature of nursing and need for interaction with patients. However, most of our bachelor’s degree programs can be fully completed online, including the RN Completion program, the BS in Accountancy program, and the BS in Computer Science program. If you’d like to learn more about distance education and online coursework at NU, you may be interested in browsing our guide to the best online bachelor’s degrees for in-demand jobs.
What About In-Demand Master’s Degrees for Graduate Students?
Undergraduates aren’t the only students who should think carefully when choosing an academic major. Grad students also benefit by targeting degrees that are in high demand, such as a master’s degree in data science or cybersecurity. If you’ve already attained your undergraduate degree and are interested in taking your education a step further, check out some of the best master’s degrees for the future, or explore our complete list of graduate programs. You can also contact our graduate admissions office for one-on-one assistance.
Earn Your Bachelor’s Degree Online or On-Campus at National University
Established in 1971 and accredited in 1977, National University has been a leader in education for nearly half a century. We offer more than 75 online and on-campus degree programs for graduates and undergraduates, including associate’s degree, certificate, and credential programs. Our unique four-week courses are fast-paced yet flexible, offering students control and convenience while challenging them to excel. We’re also a proud Yellow Ribbon school, honoring our commitment to serve those who serve by providing tuition discounts for military students.
Find out what you can do in 30 days. Contact our admissions office to learn more about applying and jumpstart your future today.