There are over 170 different fields of study tracked by the U.S. Census Bureau in which undergraduate students can earn a degree. Despite the wide range of academic subjects offered at colleges and universities, over half of the 75 million American adults with a bachelor’s degree majored in one of just 15 fields of study.
Majors such as business, nursing, teaching, accounting, and biology are each among the most popular with undergraduates — and with good reason. Degrees in these fields prepare students for careers in essential industries like health care, education, and retail, where job opportunities are available in cities and towns across the country. Here is a look at the college majors with the lowest unemployment.
Of course, just as these industries are practically ubiquitous, many others are specific to certain parts of the country. This is often a reflection of a key industry that might be far less common in other parts of the country. In many cases, this is attributable to the presence of natural resources, like oil or mineral deposits, or geographic features, like a coastline. As a result, workers with degrees in less popular or more specialized subjects are often concentrated only in certain areas.
According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the most concentrated degree in Illinois relative to the U.S. as a whole is court reporting. Adults in the state are about four times more likely to have a degree in the field than the typical American adult. An estimated 0.05% of adults in the state have a court reporting degree compared to 0.01% of adults nationwide.
Though demand for workers with this specific degree appears to be higher than average in the state, compensation is not necessarily higher than average. Adults with a court reporting degree in Illinois earn an average of $27,058 per year compared to the average income among all Americans with the degree of $45,223. It is important to note that average annual earnings include all adults with the degree, even those who are working part-time or not working.
All data in this story is from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2019 American Community Survey Public Use Microdata Sample. College majors are ranked within each state according to their location quotient — the percentage of adults 25 and older within a state with a certain bachelor’s degree relative to the percentage of adults with the same degree nationwide. The college major or field of study with the highest location quotient is considered the most unique college degree in every state.
|State||Most uniquely popular degree||Adults in state with degree (%)||Adults nationwide with degree (%)|
|Arizona||Astronomy and astrophysics||0.06||0.02|
|Arkansas||Mathematics and computer science||0.11||0.03|
|California||Cognitive science and biopsychology||0.11||0.03|
|Colorado||Geological and geophysical engineering||0.06||0.02|
|Delaware||Interdisciplinary social sciences||0.85||0.17|
|Georgia||Early childhood education||1.18||0.41|
|Idaho||Mining and mineral engineering||0.24||0.03|
|Iowa||Agriculture production and management||1.43||0.19|
|Kentucky||Nuclear, industrial radiology, and biological technologies||0.10||0.02|
|Maine||Naval architecture and marine engineering||0.40||0.04|
|Massachusetts||Naval architecture and marine engineering||0.11||0.04|
|Michigan||Mechanical engineering related technologies||0.20||0.06|
|Nebraska||Atmospheric sciences and meteorology||0.34||0.05|
|Nevada||Geological and geophysical engineering||0.12||0.02|
|New Hampshire||Mathematics and computer science||0.19||0.03|
|New Jersey||Naval architecture and marine engineering||0.07||0.04|
|New Mexico||Military technologies||0.05||0.01|
|New York||Art history and criticism||0.50||0.22|
|North Carolina||Atmospheric sciences and meteorology||0.10||0.05|
|North Dakota||Agricultural economics||0.98||0.08|
|Ohio||Teacher education: multiple levels||0.64||0.23|
|Oregon||Geological and geophysical engineering||0.07||0.02|
|Rhode Island||Electrical, mechanical, and precision technologies and production||0.13||0.03|
|South Carolina||Materials engineering and materials science||0.16||0.06|
|South Dakota||Soil science||0.12||0.01|
|Vermont||Geological and geophysical engineering||0.19||0.02|
|Washington||Naval architecture and marine engineering||0.10||0.04|
|West Virginia||Mining and mineral engineering||0.27||0.03|
|Wyoming||Mining and mineral engineering||0.41||0.03|