Top 20 of the Best Majors in College to Get a Job 2024

Degrees to get for the future

Reviewed by: Melissa Anderson, MS.Ed. / First covered: January 2021 / Updates: 2

Key Takeaways:

  • Artificial Intelligence and Big Data are top choices for future degrees based on job demand and favorable job outlook.
  • Both fields offer diverse career opportunities with high demand in sectors like finance, healthcare, and technology industries.
  • Programs in Artificial Intelligence and Big Data emphasize advanced skills in areas like machine learning, robotics, and data analysis.

Are you asking yourself, “What’s the best degree to get in college?” In this article, we profile the 20 best degrees and college majors for the future.

Featured Programs

Many college students want to study something they’re passionate about. While you may want to pursue your interests, there are certain college majors and degrees that offer a more stable guarantee for the future. Also, your interests may align with some of the top degrees to pursue for the future. Below are 20 top degrees for the future that offer a favorable job outlook, solid return-on-investment, and above-average employment rates, as listed by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

These degree offerings might help you decide which career path you want to take, as you think about the best majors in college to get a job.

1. Artificial Intelligence

Online artificial intelligence degrees

Artificial Intelligence is at the top of our list of best college degrees for the future. There are thousands of jobs available in the artificial intelligence field. That makes it a top college major right now. AI students learn basic skills in computer science. They will get an in-depth understanding of:

  • artificial intelligence
  • machine learning
  • robotics

For this college major, students take courses such as:

  • foundations of artificial intelligence
  • fundamentals of information retrieval and web searching
  • principles of robotic theory
  • machine learning

Students should have strong mathematical and technical skills. The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects artificial intelligence jobs to grow at an above-average rate, making it one of the best majors in college to get a job.

Top Programs:

2. Big Data

Online degrees in big data

Big data continues to be one of the best college degrees for the future because of its high demand. Many organizations, including those in the finance sector, seek professionals who can analyze and construct data that informs decisions. Students must gain graduate-level advanced skills and knowledge in data science and statistical analysis. They learn to design scalable systems to interpret data that needs to be processed. Core areas for this college major can include:

  • cloud computing
  • data mining
  • data visualization
  • machine learning

Students will take courses in information science and statistics. Most college majors in big data require a background in computer science or a related field.

Top programs:

3. Biotechnology

Online biotechnology degrees

Biotechnology combines the study of biology and technology to create a top college major. This in-demand field of study can improve individual lives and communities. It uses the power of the cellular process to make improvements in:

  • healthcare
  • sustainability
  • farming
  • manufacturing

Biotechnologists have the skills to face threats like viruses and climate change. This degree is offered at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Students often specialize in one industry that fits their personal and career interests. Courses may include subject matter such as:

  • bioinformatics
  • biotechnology applications
  • genome analysis
  • laboratory management and safety
  • vaccine development

Top programs:

4. Nursing

Online nursing degrees

Nurses are one of the most important employees in the healthcare system. The Covid outbreak made this clear to the public. They support patients with hands-on care in nearly every healthcare setting. The demand for nurses is growing as the population continues to age and new health threats arise. That makes it one of the top college majors right now for career opportunities, including top job positions in the field. Nursing majors can earn an online nursing credential at any level from a certificate to a doctor of nursing practice degree. Most people don’t realize how much the nursing field has developed. Nurse midwives, nurse practitioners, and nurse anesthetists take on many of the same responsibilities as doctors. If you’re interested in advancing your nursing career to fill one of these roles you might want to consider one of these affordable DNP degrees you can earn online. Courses for this college major include:

  • anatomy and physiology
  • biology
  • chemistry
  • nutrition

Graduates work in places like:

  • clinics
  • hospitals
  • doctor’s offices
  • rehabilitation facilities
  • educational institutions

Those with a bachelor’s degree or higher should have excellent job opportunities. Plus, many financial aid opportunities exist for prospective nurses. That makes nursing a top choice for one of the best degrees for the future.

Top programs:

5. Sustainability

Online degrees in sustainability

In terms of the future’s best college majors, jobs in sustainability continue to grow in importance. Industries are moving away from using fossil fuels as the threat of climate change grows. This major is most prevalent at the associate or bachelor’s levels. It can be completed entirely online. Graduates work in fields like:

  • renewable energy engineering
  • turbine technology
  • sustainability engineering

Graduates with this degree earn a median salary of $56,000 per year, according to PayScale. Students take coursework in:

  • economics of sustainability
  • sustainable ecosystems
  • sustainable farms and food systems
  • sustainable urban settings

If these topics interest you, rest assured this is one of the best degrees to go back to school for.

Top programs:

6. Health Information Technology

online health information technology degrees

If you’re still wondering, “Is college the best option?“, you should know that health info tech ranks #6 on our list of best degrees to get for the future. It is typically available at the associate and bachelor levels. Health information technologists organize and maintain healthcare records as they relate to:

  • billing
  • facility planning
  • marketing
  • quality control
  • research

Hospital data uses codes and various industry standards to track information. Most programs are offered at community colleges. This means admission is open-door and only requires a high school diploma or GED. Degrees should be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education.

Top programs:

7. Medical Technology

online degrees in medical technology

Med lab techs are some of the most important healthcare professionals. They are often overlooked because they work behind the scenes. Techs work with doctors and nurses to perform a wide variety of medical tests. The tests diagnose and track various illnesses and diseases. Make sure the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences accredits the program you choose. Graduates with this college major must prepare to take a certification exam.

Top programs:

8. Construction Management

online degrees in construction management

Construction management comes in at #8 on our list of best degrees to get for the future. The need for construction managers increases as the country’s roads and buildings age. Construction managers oversee the many parts of the process. They are responsible for areas like:

  • budget oversight
  • contractor management
  • client relations

The construction manager is the person that brings a construction project together. Courses cover a wide range of topics including:

  • project management
  • business acumen
  • architectural graphics
  • construction budgets
  • construction materials and methods
  • construction safety

Top programs:

9. Mechanical Engineering

Online mechanical engineering degrees

Mechanical engineering has always been one of the best college majors for the future. It teaches students to solve complex problems and create solutions using innovation across nearly every industry. If you’re wondering what degrees do for mechanical engineers, they teach them how to:

  • research
  • design
  • develop
  • implement devices and machines ranging from car engines to medical equipment

It is a very broad branch of engineering. This allows the graduate to follow several distinct career paths and work in a variety of industries. There are several different types of mechanical engineers, including:

  • automobile engineers
  • HVAC engineer
  • robotics engineers

Mechanical engineering degrees are typically offered at the bachelor’s degree level.

Top programs:

10. Computer Science

Online computer science degrees

A computer science degree has been a popular choice for a long time. It continues to be a great degree for the future. Technology continues to advance and become more a part of daily living. Those with high-level information technology skills combined with critical thinking skills will continue to be in demand. The computer science degree is diverse and allows graduates to work in a variety of careers such as:

  • database analysts
  • software developers
  • business application programmers
  • mobile app developers

There are plenty of online computer science degree programs at the bachelor’s degree and master’s degree levels. Courses cover concepts such as:

  • business information systems
  • database development
  • mobile platforms
  • web enterprise technology

Top programs:

11. Information Technology

Online degrees in information technology

In terms of college degree ideas, information technology is a great choice for current and future job opportunities. The increasing importance of IT affects every part of modern society. IT degrees offer many different sub-specialties such as:

  • cyber security
  • data analytics
  • project management
  • software development

Having industry certifications and internship options are an important part of any degree program. Most IT-related jobs are expected to grow at twice the rate of other occupations over the next decade. The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects security analyst jobs to grow by a staggering 32%. Computer science majors can also benefit from this boon.

Top programs:

12. Civil Engineering

Online civil engineering degrees

Civil engineering ranks 12th on our list of best degrees to get in college. Civil engineering professionals make a huge impact in their communities. They improve, design, and install current and new infrastructure such as:

  • roads
  • bridges
  • buildings
  • other physical structures

They maintain the things that impact human mobility and transportation. Students can choose to specialize in:

  • academics
  • construction
  • civil infrastructure
  • public utilities
  • water resource management

Civil engineering students learn other important parts of the job such as:

  • communication
  • environmental science
  • personnel management
  • project management

Degrees are available on-campus and online.

Top programs:

13. Communication

Online degrees in communication

The ability to communicate is a crucial skill. Look at any job description and you’ll see that one of the most sought-after skills is communication. The ability to convey ideas and also listen is an integral part of success, both on and off the job. Strong communication skills are more important than ever in a world with so many voices. For students considering this degree at the bachelor’s degree or master’s degree level, it is helpful to choose a concentration within the field. Specializations include:

  • conflict resolution
  • corporate communications
  • journalism
  • marketing
  • public relations

The degree offers a high level of utility and can be applied to virtually any occupation.

Top programs:

14. Economics

Online economics degrees

Economics majors come in at #14 on our list of best college majors to get for the future. Economics training provides students with excellent preparation for a career in:

  • economics
  • finance
  • public policy
  • law
  • government
  • business

It is also excellent preparation for graduate school. Students learn a variety of integral skills such as:

  • what drives consumer behavior
  • what factors dictate the growth and detraction of markets
  • how to forecast economic conditions

Courses may include:

  • calculus for the social sciences
  • introduction to macroeconomics
  • introduction to microeconomics
  • public policy analysis

Possible careers include:

  • business analyst
  • economist
  • financial advisor
  • loan officer
  • market research analyst
  • digital marketing
  • business management

Top programs:

15. Anthropology

Online anthropology degrees

Anthropology is the study of human behavior from biological and social scientific perspectives. Anthropology is one of the best college majors for the future and can be applied to several industries including:

  • academia
  • the arts
  • business
  • education
  • criminal justice

Students choosing this college major should consider a specialty track such as:

  • archaeology
  • biological anthropology and linguistics
  • cultural anthropology

Anthropology graduates have several career options including:

  • anthropologist
  • archaeologist
  • archivist
  • conservationist
  • curator
  • public policy analyst
  • urban planner

Courses may include:

  • archaeology of culture and resource management
  • anthropology and research
  • evolution of primate behavior
  • human ecology

The degree is available on-campus and online.

Top programs:

16. Healthcare Administration

Online degrees in healthcare administration

Healthcare needs continue to increase in this country. The system needs individuals with sound business administration and leadership skills. A degree in healthcare administration offers the skills necessary to lead healthcare organizations, including human resources, management information systems, and risk management. The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects healthcare administration jobs to increase 28% from 2022 – 2032. This rate of growth is more than six times the rate of growth for all other occupations tracked by the Bureau. The degree is available at both the bachelor’s degree and master’s degree levels. There are several excellent online options to choose from, all of which can lead to lucrative career paths.

Top programs:

17. Environmental Science

Online environmental science degrees

The climate change crisis continues to affect the earth. Trained scientists work to fight this global crisis. A degree in environmental science gives a foundation in natural and physical sciences. Students learn the skills needed to fight environmental dangers. Many programs allow students to choose a focus within the field such as:

  • applied ecology
  • environmental agriculture
  • environmental policy
  • water conservation

A concentration allows the student to study specific coursework. It increases the chance of finding a job after graduation.

Top programs:

18. Social Work

Online social work degrees

The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects job growth for social work positions to increase 7% from 2022 – 2032. The need for social workers rises as mental health and family service needs increase. Online social work programs are available at the bachelor and graduate degree levels. Strong programs generally offer specialty tracks. These may include:

  • child and family social work
  • health care social work
  • mental health and substance abuse social work
  • school social work

Top programs:

19. Sociology

Online sociology degrees

Like psychology majors, sociology majors study human behavior. Sociology, however, is the study of human behavior in the context of community. The discipline has come into focus in recent years as organizations try to understand what drives societal behavior. A degree in sociology has several career paths due to its broad utility and usefulness. Graduates go on to successful careers in:

  • education
  • social science research
  • law enforcement
  • marketing
  • graduate school

Some programs offer specialties such as:

  • community development
  • cultural anthropology
  • sociology of race
  • sociology of the aging
  • women’s and gender studies

Completely online degrees are available at both the bachelor’s degree and master’s degree levels.

Top programs:

20. Advertising

Online degrees in advertising

As consumer competition increases, the need for advertising professionals rises. It is also true for businesses that are not sales-related. Message creation and public relations are just as important there. Because of this, advertising comes in at #20 on our list of best college majors for the future. Programs are available online at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Advertising students learn to create messages designed to influence target audiences. It doesn’t matter if they are external customers or internal employees. An advertising degree will teach students to craft full campaigns. They learn to use different styles and strategies. They apply the latest in advertising technology and social media to reach as many people as possible.

Top programs:

Other Jobs and College Majors to Consider

  • Human Resource Management
  • Electrical Engineering
  • Computer Network Architects
  • Financial Managers
  • Computer Engineering
  • Project Managers
  • Computer Systems Analyst
  • Market Research Analysts
  • Operations Research Analyst
  • Accounting Majors
  • Supply Chain Management
  • Political Science
  • Finance Majors

Sources

  • Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook
  • PayScale.com

This concludes our list of top 20 best degrees to get for the future.