The 3 Most Popular Majors at the Ivy Leagues

November 18, 2020
By AdmissionSight

The 3 Most Popular Majors at the Ivy Leagues

For thousands of students across the globe, attending one of the eight Ivy League schools is their biggest dream. Some of the most impactful men and women in history have attended Ivy League schools including global leaders, world-changing researchers and scientists, era-defining artists and more. For that reason, many people (rightfully) believe that attending an Ivy League school – or one of the other more prestigious and competitive universities in the United States – can act as a golden ticket to future success. With that being said, with acceptance rate typically in the single digits. For that reason, if you end up getting accepted to one of these wonderful schools, you better have a pretty good idea when it comes to what you are going to study while you are there. For many students, finding out what programs schools particularly excel in can help them make a final decision in regards to where they attend. That’s why we at AdmissionSight have broken down the three most popular majors at the Ivy Leagues.

Ivy league flags

On top of that, we have also broken down the three most popular majors at similarly prestigious schools such as Stanford, MIT, CalTech and UChicago. The hope is that learning about the most popular majors at these wonderful institutions will help you along your journey of making the right choice for your undergraduate education.

Let’s get started!

The 3 Most Popular Majors at the Ivy Leagues

Brown University

Located in Providence, Rhode Island and founded in 1764, Brown University has an undergraduate student body of 7,160. Some of the most famous alumni include John F. Kennedy Jr, Emma Watson, Ted Turner and John D. Rockefeller Jr. The current Brown acceptance rate is 8.5%.

The three most popular majors at Brown University are:

  • Economics
  • Computer Science
  • Biology

Columbia University

Located in the heart of Manhattan, New York City and founded in 1754, Columbia University has an undergraduate student body of 9,001. Some of the most famous alumni include Barack Obama, J.D. Salinger, Jake Gyllenhaal, Stanley Kubrick and Rachel Nichols. The current Columbia acceptance rate is 6.6%.

The three most popular majors at Columbia University are:

  • Economics
  • Political Science
  • Psychology

Cornell University

Located in Ithaca, New York and founded in 1865, Cornell University has an undergraduate student body of 15,043. Some of the most famous alumni include Kurt Vonnegut, Bill Nye, Jane Lynch, Gabrielle Giffords and Toni Morrison.  The current Cornell acceptance rate is 12.7%.

The three most popular majors at Cornell University are:

  • Engineering
  • Business, Management & Marketing
  • Biological and Biomedical Sciences

Dartmouth College

Located in Hanover, New Hampshire in 1769, Dartmouth College has an undergraduate student body of 4,459. Some of the most famous alumni include Dr. Seuss, Meryl Streep, Mindy Kaling, Robert Frost and Keith Boykin. The current Dartmouth acceptance rate is 10.4%.

The three most popular majors at Dartmouth College are:

  • Economics
  • Government
  • History

Harvard University

Located in Cambridge, Massachusetts and established in 1636, Harvard University has an undergraduate student body of 6,755. Some of the most famous alumni include Mark Zuckerberg, John F. Kennedy, Natalie Portman, Amy Poehler and Michael Bloomberg. The Harvard acceptance rate is 5.2%.

The three most popular majors at Harvard University are:

  • Economics
  • Government
  • Computer Science

University of Pennsylvania

Located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and established in 1740, the University of Pennsylvania has an undergraduate student body of 10,019. Some of the most famous alumni include Donald Trump, Sharon Stone, Warren Buffett, Elon Musk and Noam Chomsky. The current UPenn acceptance rate is 9.3%

The three most popular majors at University of Pennsylvania are:

  • Finance
  • Economics
  • Nursing

Princeton University

Located in Princeton, New Jersey and founded in 1746, Princeton University has an undergraduate student body of 8,374. Some of the most famous alumni include John F. Kennedy, Michelle Obama, Jeff Bezos, Cornel West and James Stewart. The current Princeton acceptance rate is 6.4%.

The three most popular majors at Princeton University are:

  • Economics
  • Woodrow Wilson School (policy making, analysis, and evaluation)
  • Computer Science

Yale University

Located in New Haven, Connecticut and founded in 1701, Yale University has an undergraduate student body of 13,609. Some of the most famous Yale alumni include George W. Bush, Hillary Clinton, Eli Whitney, James Franco, Lewis Black and Anderson Cooper. The current Yale acceptance rate is 6.9%.

The three most popular majors at Yale University are:

  • Economics
  • Political Science
  • History

The 3 Most Popular Major at other Top Schools

While some of the best students in the United States certainly end up enrolling at Ivy League schools, there are some other highly prestigious schools that high school students end up applying to and attending. Four of the most difficult schools to get into that are not in the Ivy League are Stanford University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, California Institute of Technology and University of Chicago.

Stanford University

Located in Stanford, California and founded in 1885, Stanford University has an undergraduate student body of 17,249. Some of the most famous Stanford alumni include Doug Mackenzie, Reese Witherspoon, Tiger Woods, Larry Page, Rachel Maddow and Raymond Burr. The current Stanford acceptance rate is 4.7%.

The three most popular majors at Stanford University are:

  • Computer Science
  • Biology
  • Engineering

MIT

Located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology was founded in 1861 and has an undergraduate student body of 4,530. Some of the most famous MIT alumni include Yau-Man Chan, Dawson Engler, Paul Krugman and Charles Koch. The current MIT acceptance rate is 7.2%

The three most popular majors at MIT are:

California Institute of Technology

Lcoated in Pasadena, California and founded in 1891, the California Institute of Technology has an undergraduate student body 948. Some of the most famous alumni include William Shockley, Frank Borman, Virgil Griffith and Frank Capra. The current Caltech acceptance rate is 7.7%.

The three most popular majors at Caltech are:

  • Computer Science
  • Physics
  • Electrical Engineering

University of Chicago

Located in Chicago, Illinois and founded in 1890, the University of Chicago has an undergraduate student body of 6,286. Some of the most famous UChicago alumni include Robin Harper, Larry Ellison, Roger Ebert, David Rockefeller and Paul Goodman. The current UChicago acceptance rate is 8.7%.

The three most popular majors at UChicago are:

  • Economics
  • Mathematics
  • Biology

How to choose the right undergraduate major for you?

Now that you have some incredibly useful information regarding the most popular majors at some of the very best schools in the United States, you might be wondering how you should go about choosing your very own major once you get to college.

The decision can be highly stress-inducing. After all, your decision when it comes to majors and minors during your college years plays a huge role when it comes to what kind of graduate degree you want to achieve or what kind of industry you ultimately want to work with. Of course, there is a lot of versatility when it comes to college majors and your future is very much in your own hands.

Students in a group activity

With that being said, we would be lying if we didn’t admit the important role that your undergraduate major can play in your future. So, with that being said, let us at AdmissionSight break down how you can go about choosing your university major.

First off, let’s take a look at the most popular majors at less selective and more selective schools per the master number crunchers FiveThiryEight.

Most popular majors

Now, let’s break down some of the best tips to choose your college major!

Pick based on your abilities

This one is pretty simple, but you should definitely pick a major based on what topics of academia you naturally gravitate towards and are successful at. Understanding what areas you have strong skills in and which areas you could see yourself working in the future is a great way to narrow down your options through process of elimination.

With that being said, you should not feel the need to rule out areas in which you do not have great success in yet. You can use your major to both learn and master an area of focus.

Pick based on your core beliefs 

One way to make a great decision is to pick a major that is based on your core beliefs and values. If you are dedicated towards changing the world through research and discovery, perhaps a STEM program is right for you. If you want to change the world through politics or community leadership, perhaps you should consider political science or public policy. While keeping this in mind, don’t be afraid to look beyond your beliefs and find something that you think could expand and improve your outlook on the world.

Pick based on your major interests

This is also a pretty rock-solid way to try to pick the right major for you. If you already love doing something, why not learn how to get paid for it in the future? Just keep in mind that your interests may very well change over time and if you find yourself gravitating towards something that is new, don’t let the fact that it is new keep you from doing the research necessary to find out if that is the right major for you.

Pick based on your passions

You might think that this is somewhat redundant considering the fact that we just talked about choosing based on your interests, but there is no doubt that the word passion is quite a bit stronger than the word interest, right? Passions are the things that are of deep interest to you, in fact they may even be part of how you define yourself as a person.

Following your passions from the first day that you are on your college’s campus is one of the very best ways to pick the best major for you. With that being said, if you are worried that your passions may not lead to a clear or highly lucrative career path, consider the fact that you certainly can either pursue a double-major (though that will be a lot of work), or a major and minor so that you can both pursue your passions and learn about them during your college years while also make sure that you are setting yourself up for a fantastic and successful professional future.

Consider if you will enjoy it for many years

Don’t make knee-jerk decisions when it comes to making a choice about your major. Consider your future and think long and hard about whether or not you will be as excited and passionate about the subject next year, five years, ten and even 20 years from now. If you think it might be a fleeting desire, you may want to hold off on declaring it as your major just yet.

Pick based on employability

This may seem overly pragmatic, but the simple fact is that you are going to university in order to advance your career now and in the future. That means that you will want to make sure that the major that you end going with ends up helping you find a job that you will be excited to do in the future. If you want to major in something that you do not believe will lead to good job prospects, you will have to really consider whether or not the major is worth the time, effort and money that you will spend in order to earn your degree!

Pick based on relevancy

One of the best decisions you can make when it comes to picking a major is to choose one that is related to a line of work and industry that is not only big and exciting, but also continuously growing. The fact that engineering, business and computer science was top three in many of the aforementioned majors at some of the best schools in the entire world is no accident. The students who end up going to those incredibly impressive schools know what they want out of their professional life and know what it takes to be successful. One of the best ways to make sure that you are successful is to choose a major that is related to an industry that is strong and well and will continue to be strong for many, many years to come.

Pick based on salary

This may seem somewhat gauche, but there is no doubt that money matters in our world. Job security matters and so too does the amount of money that you are paid for. IF you are curious about the projected lifetime earnings based on profession, take a look at the graph below offered by the New York Times:

Projected lifetime earnings for professions

Conclusion

Now that you know about the top majors at the top schools in the United States, as well as how many of the most successful students go about picking a major, it is now your turn to start doing some soul searching in order to prepare for the exciting road ahead.

Here at AdmissionSight, we want to make sure that every young person we work with gets the very best when it comes to the schools that they end up attending as undergraduates. The primary reasons is because we know that the youth are the future. By choosing a major, you get to make one of the first really impactful decisions in terms of what kind of way you will contribute to making the world a much better place!

 

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