The Most Popular Bachelor’s Degrees Among Online Students

They're popular, but do these majors pay well and are they in demand?

We’ve all heard horror stories about students who graduated from college and then couldn’t find a job, or they didn’t earn enough to move out of their parents’ basement. These examples highlight the dilemma between choosing what might seem like a fun or cool degree versus choosing a job with a rosy future.

So, which undergraduate degrees are most prevalent among online students? A report by Learning House and Aslanian, crunched the numbers to determine the most popular degrees.

Health professions account for the highest percentage of online degrees (31%). Dr. Christian Wright, Health Sciences Department Dean at Rasmussen College, tells ThoughtCo, “Healthcare is a popular field to go into because a degree in health sciences is versatile, with a variety of career options to fit different interests and strengths.”

Also, Wright notes that there’s been an emphasis on volunteer- and community-based projects, which could also be a determining factor for students who want a satisfying career that involves serving others. 

But just because a field is popular doesn’t mean it’s a good choice. Graduates must weigh other factors, such as long-term job prospects and the ability to make a living wage. “The health sciences field is a good choice for students to get into because as the world’s population continues to rise and people are living longer than ever, the demand for qualified and compassionate healthcare professionals to take care of people is increasing,” Wright explains.

As a result, he says there are plenty of job opportunities to find work that is meaningful and pays well. “Additionally, there are increasing opportunities to work in the healthcare field in indirect patient care roles such as medical coding and billing or health information management.”

And since health profession programs are typically offered online, Wright says it’s a lot easier for students to work while studying.

But just because a degree is popular doesn’t mean it’s a wise choice. So, to determine how these degrees stand up in the job market, ThoughtCo has analyzed job growth and salary data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

01
of 16

Business Administration

Business administration is also known as business management, and students pursuing a degree in this field study the various components of managing a business, which include marketing, human resources management, business policy and strategy, accounting, and business law. This major leads to a plethora of jobs, including the following:

Human resources specialists earn $59,180, with an average job growth rate.

Sales managers earn $117,960, with an average job growth rate.

Management analysts earn $81,330, with a faster than average job growth rate.

Medical/health services managers earn $96,540, with a much faster than average job growth rate.

02
of 16

Computer Science and Engineering

Students pursuing a computer science and engineering degree learn the engineering and mathematical components of computing. This major usually involves a specialization, such as software engineering, computer systems, artificial intelligence, or database systems and data analytics. This is another field with a variety of career choices:

Software developers earn $102,280 with a much faster than average job growth rate.

Computer programmers earn $79,840, but there is a declining job growth rate.

Computer network architects earn $101,210, with a faster than average job growth rate.

Computer systems analysts earn $87,220, with a much faster than average job growth rate.

Computer hardware engineers earn $115,080, but there is a declining job growth rate.

03
of 16

Nursing

Students who major in nursing study anatomy and physiology, pediatrics, pathophysiology, microbiology, critical care, epidemiology, and nutrition. These courses represent some of the dozens of specialty areas that nurses can choose to be certified in. Other areas include pulmonary nursing, dental nursing, cardiac nursing, rehabilitation nursing, orthopaedic nursing, and forensic nursing.

Registered nurses earn $68,450, with a much faster than average job growth rate.

04
of 16

Engineering

Learning how to design, build, and formulate solutions are the common denominators in the various engineering specialties. Designing artificial organs, creating plans for building bridges and roads, finding new uses for nanomaterials, and designing new computer hardware represent just some of the many ways engineering majors contribute to society.  

Some of the most popular engineering specialties include the following:

Civil engineers earn $83,540, with an average job growth rate.

Electrical and electronics engineers earn $96,270, with no change in the job growth rate.

Environmental engineers earn $84,890, with a faster than average job growth rate.

Mechanical engineers earn $84,190, with an average job growth rate.

Petroleum engineers earn $128,230, with a faster than average job growth rate.

05
of 16

Early Childhood Education

Students pursuing this degree learn how to teach age groups ranging from toddlers through the third or fourth grade. Instructional design, classroom management, early childhood development, and language and literary in early childhood education are just some of the topics explored.

Preschool teachers earn $28,790, with an average job growth rate.

Kindergarten and elementary school teachers earn $55,490, with an average job growth rate.

06
of 16

Graphic Web Design

Graphic web design majors learn about graphic design techniques, typography, production design, and Photoshop. In addition, they also learn programming languages, user interface design and web development.

Web designers earn $66,130, with a faster than average job growth rate.

Graphic designers earn $47,640, with no job growth rate change.

07
of 16

Information Technology

This major is designed for students who want to use information technology to help organizations be more efficient and effective. Managing networks, computer systems and architecture, research and data analysis, information security, user experience design, and ethical and legal issues in information technology are some of the topics covered.

Career options include the following:

Computer and information systems managers (IT managers) earn $135,800, with a much faster than average job growth rate.

Computer network architects earn $101,210, with a faster than average job growth rate.

Computer systems analysts earn $87,220, with a much faster than average job growth rate.

Network and computer systems administrators earn $79,700, with an average job growth rate.

08
of 16

Social Work

Students working toward a degree in social work learn about modern social problems, sociology, psychology, at-risk populations, and social welfare policy. Some graduate are clinical social workers, while others may choose to be school social workers, child and family social workers, or they may work as healthcare social workers.

Social workers earn $46,890, with a faster than average job growth rate.

09
of 16

Liberal Arts

 Liberal arts majors study a variety of topics, including world religions, English literature, music history, psychology, cultural anthropology, and economics. Typically, they get to design their own degree. Some career choices in liberal arts typically depend on your specialty area, but below is a mix of choices for general and specific liberal arts grads:

Public relations specialists earn $58,020, with an average job growth rate.

Interpreters and translators earn $46,120, with a faster than average job growth rate.

Geographers earn $74,260, but there’s a declining job growth rate.

Human resources specialists earn $59,1580, with an average job growth rate.

10
of 16

Health Administration

Managing a healthcare facility requires students to study a variety of topics, including health care administration, healthcare finance, human resources management, health care policy, and health care law. Some healthcare managers oversee entire facilities, while other manage a specific area. The variety of careers under the umbrella of medical and health services managers include nursing home administrators, clinical managers, health information managers, and assistant administrators.

Medical and health services managers earn $96,540, with a faster than average job growth rate.

11
of 16

Biology

Students majoring in biology learn about genetics, marine biology, zoology, biochemistry, microbiology, and plant anatomy. Equipped with the knowledge needed to engage in the scientific process and analyze scientific information, they can pursue a variety of careers, including the following:

Agricultural and food scientists earn $69,920, with an average job growth rate.

Environmental scientists earn $$68,910, with a faster than average job growth rate.

Zoologists and wildlife biologists earn $60,520, with a slower than average job growth rate.

Biological technicians earn $42,520, with an average job growth rate.

12
of 16

Computer Security

Students pursuing this degree learn how to analyze threats, detect intrusions, and investigate breaches. They also study information technology architectures, programming logic, and systems design and integration.

Computer systems analysts earn $87,220, with a much faster than average job growth rate.

Information security analysts earn $92,500, with a much faster than average job growth rate.

13
of 16

Criminal Justice

Criminal justice majors learn about the law and the people who break it, as well as the criminal justice system. They study forensic science, police science, criminology, law enforcement administration, constitutional law, and sociology.

Some of the many career choices include:

Police and sheriff’s patrol officers earn $59,680, with a slower than average job growth rate.

Detectives and criminal investigators earn $78,120, with a slower than average job growth rate.

Fish and game wardens earn $51,730, with a slower than average job growth rate.

Transit and railroad police earn $66,610, with a slower than average job growth rate.

14
of 16

Accounting

Accounting majors learn how to assemble, interpret, and communicate financial information. These students study auditing, cost accounting, the differences between profit and not-for-profit accounting, business law, and tax accounting.  

Some of the career options for graduates include:

Accountants and auditors earn $58,150, with a faster than average job growth rate.

Budget analysts earn $73,840, but the job growth rate is declining.

Cost estimators earn $61,790, with a faster than average job growth rate.

Financial analysts earn $81,760, with a faster than average job growth rate.

Tax examiners and collectors, and revenue agents earn $52,060, with a declining job growth rate.

15
of 16

Communications

Students who major in communications study interpersonal communication, theories of persuasion, mass media, public speaking, audience analysis, popular culture, and political communication.

Typical jobs include the following;

Broadcast news analysts earn $56,680, with a declining job growth rate

Reporters and correspondents earn $37,820, with a declining job growth rate

Advertising/Promotions/Marketing Managers earn $127,560, with a faster than average job growth rate.

Public relations/fundraising managers earn $107,320, with an average job growth rate.

16
of 16

English

English majors learn to read and interpret literature, while also analyzing the historical and social contexts surrounding these works. They study poetry, English and American literature from various periods, literary theory, world literature, and, specifically, such authors as Shakespeare and Chaucer.  

Some of the career choices for graduates include the following:

Technical writers earn $59,850, with a faster than average job growth rate.

Editors earn $57,210, but there is a decline in the job growth rate.

Writers and authors earn $61,240, with a slower than average job growth rate.

Advertising/Promotions/Marketing Managers earn $127,560, with a faster than average job growth rate.

Public relations/fundraising managers earn $107,320, with an average job growth rate.