Choosing your college major is one of the best decisions you’ll make in your lifetime. Not only will your choice determine your coursework it will determine your pathway to a more fulfilling and successful career and livelihood.

If you’re planning your college career for 2024, learning about some of the most in-demand majors can help you make a sound decision.

So keep reading to find out some of the best college majors for the coming year.

What Makes a Good Major?

When asked, “What should I be when I grow up?” many parents and teachers may respond, “Do whatever it is you love doing the most” or “Find your passion and do that.” It sounds like good advice.

I mean, who doesn’t want to spend their life doing something they love?

The problem with this advice is twofold:

  • Many people don’t know what their passion is.
  • Some people’s passion won’t pay the bills. I may love playing the saxophone, but there is an incredibly slim chance I’d ever make a decent enough living at it to support myself and my family.

So, when we talk about choosing a really good major, we need to focus on a few important specifics:

  1. It’s Economically Viable

Consider those majors who set you on a lucrative career path. There are those careers that do well no matter what the economy is doing. And there are those career paths that leave a lot of room for growth and advancement.

We’ll list some of these in just a minute.

  1. It Can Help You Get a Better Career

If you’re an adult who has already joined the workforce but is looking for a way to earn more, then you’ll definitely want to focus on a major that will help you make a career change.

Or, perhaps you are already in the industry of your dreams but never got your degree after high school. Choosing the right major will allow you to get your degree so you can start earning more.

  1. You Can Learn Online

If you’re currently a working adult looking to make a change, you’ll want to choose a major that can be easily completed online. As a busy adult, you most likely don’t have the time to complete traditional coursework that requires you to attend X number of classes on campus each week. Choosing an online program will allow you to study in the comfort of your own home when it’s most convenient for YOU.

7 Best College Majors to Consider for 2024 (revised)

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  1. Business

A business degree is awarded to those students who have completed a college program with a focus on business, business administration, or business management. While not everyone who works in “business” has earned an official degree, it is definitely easier to enter the workforce and climb the ranks if you have earned a business degree. And in some instances, a business degree may be absolutely required.

As an example, becoming a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) will require you to have obtained at least a bachelor’s degree in business. Many leadership positions within the industry will require a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree.

The great thing about a business major is that it allows you to consider many different positions in myriad industries.  Plus, now with the transition to work from home with COVID, business degrees can apply to infinite roles worldwide that may not have been possible previously based on the companies in your area.

A degree in business can lead to a career in marketing, finance, sales, management, public relations, and more! Given the broad appeal of business and online work-from-home adoption, the opportunities really are endless.

As a business major, you’ll have the opportunity to take a diverse set of exciting classes such as accounting, statistics, marketing, ethics, law, management, microeconomics, macroeconomics, and business communication. Also keep in mind that many business majors decide to specialize in a specific field of business such as real estate, logistics, product development, or finance.

  1. Criminal Justice / Homeland Security

If you’ve always loved the idea of a career where you can really make a difference in people’s lives, then you may strongly want to consider majoring in criminal justice with an eye toward working in homeland security.

Let’s start with an obvious fact: crime isn’t going away anytime soon, so a career in criminal justice will ALWAYS offer job stability. In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were approximately 3 million people employed in the criminal justice field in 2020 alone.

If you want that peace of mind that comes with knowing your job is safe, then this could be a great major to focus on.

Majoring in criminal justice can lead to a variety of exciting careers, such as:

  • Homicide Detective
  • Forensic Psychologist
  • FBI Agent
  • Criminal Investigator
  • Border Patrol Agent
  • Forensic Chemist
  • State Trooper
  • Court Reporter

This is by no means an exhaustive list. But one exciting criminal justice field that may be worth focusing your efforts on is working in Homeland Security.

Working within the Homeland Security Agency, you will have a front-row seat in the dynamic world of national and international security measures and work to safeguard this country against evolving cyber-related security threats.

The classes you take toward a criminal justice major will depend on your degree level as well as what specialized areas of the field you may want to concentrate on. Generally speaking, criminal justice majors will take exciting courses such as criminal investigation, the U.S. Court System, the U.S. Constitution, Behavior Sciences, Communication, and more.

  1. Computer Science / IT

Just as crime isn’t going anywhere, computer technology is also here to stay. Because of this, majoring in computer science sets you up for a lucrative career in the booming technology sector!

The BLS has projected that jobs in the technology industry are projected to grow by 13% from 2016 to 2026, which is faster than all job averages. This growth is in large part due to the continued growth of cloud computing, data collection, and an increased need for cyber security.

Not only will a computer science degree lead to job security but also financial security.

Here are just some of the jobs you can land with this degree and the median annual salary as of 2020 according to the BLS:

  • Computer Programmer: $89,190
  • Computer Systems Analyst: $93,730
  • Database Administrator: $98,860
  • Information Security Analyst: $103,590
  • Software Developer: $110,140

As you can see, majoring in computer science can lead to many different career paths. Not only will graduates be needed by tech startups but also by companies of all sizes and in all industries.

Talk about an IN-DEMAND career!

Some of the fun and exciting classes you can look forward to taking are programming, operating systems, software engineering, computer security, linear algebra, calculus, and more!

  1. Healthcare Administration

Are you looking to make a real difference in people’s lives? Do you want to work in the ever-growing healthcare field but don’t love the idea of handling blood? Then a career as a healthcare administrator may be the perfect fit.

While the doctors and nurses get all of the glory, the truth is, they could not do their jobs if it weren’t for the healthcare administrators working tirelessly in the background.

That’s because these professionals are responsible for making sure the facility stays organized, on budget, and runs as efficiently as possible. In this capacity, you can effect positive change and help countless people every single day.

Of course, we can’t talk about a career in healthcare without mentioning that the industry is the largest in the United States, supplying roughly 11 million jobs to workers all across the country.

It has also become one of the most important ones worldwide, with the pandemic as well as several other factors such as the aging population, increasing diseases, and sedentary lifestyles. An increase in the sedentary lifestyle has also accelerated due to increasing work-from-home in many industries and job types.

To be clear, healthcare administrators are not just needed in hospitals, but also in doctor’s offices, urgent care clinics, and nursing homes. These professionals are also often employed by the government, pharmaceutical companies, and with healthcare device manufacturers. The job opportunities are almost endless and seem to grow each year!

You can also expect a very fine salary, with the median annual income being roughly $104,280 a year for 2020, according to the BLS. Having said that, top earners in the field can make upwards of $200,000 a year. Something to strive for!

Some of the exciting classes you can look forward to talking with a healthcare administration major are accounting, finance, healthcare law and policy, human resources, ethics, information systems, operations management, and more.

  1. Human Services (Substance Abuse, Counseling, Child and Family Services, etc.)

It is often said that people who go into human services do so out of a real desire to help as many people as they can. Human service professionals are the ones who are there for many people during their darkest hours.

With their skills and insights, these pros can help direct people to make better choices so they can experience better outcomes. And, while the work can be very challenging, it is completely worthwhile.

According to the BLS, job growth for this occupation is expected to grow 16% over the next decade, which is much faster than average. Many have called this career “recession-proof” so if you’re looking to help people AND have job security, this is a great college major to focus on.

And, while this particular career path may not make you filthy rich, financially speaking anyway, you can earn a very good living. Social workers, for instance, earned a median annual salary of $51,760 in 2020 according to the BLS. That salary is above average.

Some of the core classes you will take toward your human services degree are English composition, communications, statistics, computer skills, psychology, humanities, and behavioral science classes.

  1. Communications

With a communications degree, graduates can enter exciting and varied fields within the world of media and media technologies. But beyond this, you will have obtained the skills and knowledge that employers in ALL industries look for in candidates; skills such as the ability to conduct complex quantitative social analysis or write clear and compelling prose.

From film to social media and public relations, graduates holding a communications degree can be sure they will find satisfying work that pays well.

Here are just some of the job titles someone with a communications degree can go for:

  • Public Relations Specialist
  • Meeting Event Planner
  • Media Planner
  • Social Media Manager
  • Human Resources Specialist
  • Business Reporter
  • Health Educator
  • Brand Manager

Students who major in communications can look forward to taking some very fun and varied classes such as psychology, sociology, social research, communication theory, empirical methods of communication, mass communication, digital technology, and more!

  1. Graphic Design – Digital Arts

If you’re someone who is creative and visually oriented then a career as a graphic designer may be the perfect fit. Graphic designers use computer software to create visual concepts that inspire and captivate people’s imaginations.

These designs are typically used in advertisements, magazines, and brochures. You may also help clients with their logo design, website design, or create digital photography content.

According to the BLS, the median annual wage for graphic designers in 2019 was $53,380, with the top earners making upwards of $90,00 a year. And, with so many entrepreneurs starting up new businesses, there will always be a need for these professionals to help bring creative ideas to life!

Some of the exciting classes you can look forward to taking are printmaking, commercial graphics production, typography, computerized design, and more!

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Getting a Degree VS Becoming Certified

So far we’ve talked about different college degrees you can major in, and there is no denying that earning your degree can help you find more job opportunities and earn more.

In fact, it has been reported that those people holding a bachelor’s degree have 57% more job opportunities and earn 56% more than those who only have their high school diploma.  These kinds of numbers are definitely a driving force behind so many adults going back to college to continue their education.

But the real question for most adult students is not whether they want to continue their education but HOW they want to do it. So far I’ve discussed some of the most beneficial college degrees a student can focus on.

But there is another avenue of higher education, and that is certification.

Certification courses help you land a job in a specific industry for careers that can be in high demand.  Sometimes with degrees, students graduate with theory. But with a certification program, graduates leave with well-developed skills that will help them land a good job.

Did you know that many employers now actively seek candidates with certification training? In the past, it was almost always a requirement for candidates to have earned at least a bachelor’s degree to be hired, but things have changed.

In fact, according to a survey of 600 HR leaders conducted by The Learning House, an Online learning technology company, 66% said they were open to hiring candidates with certification in lieu of a bachelor’s degree.

This trend is likely to uptick in the coming years as the job market tightens. This means prospective students should give much more thought to whether certification might be the right step toward their chosen career.

Compared to obtaining a degree, you can earn certification in far less time. Let’s say the average degree will take you 4 years to complete; a certification may be obtained in as little as 6 months.

This allows the student to enter the workforce much sooner so they can start earning as quickly as possible.

Another benefit of certification courses is that they tend to cost far less than a traditional 4-year degree. You may need to spend tens of thousands of dollars to earn your bachelor’s degree but may only need to spend a few thousand dollars to earn your certification.

**Check out all of our favorite online certifications here, including salary information and more.

For these reasons, many adult students, who don’t have the luxury of time or a bottomless bank account, opt for taking certification training as opposed to traditional college or university courses.

What Next?

Whichever avenue you choose for continuing your education, degree, or certification, you will create more opportunities for career growth and earning potential. And wants to help you get there.

Here’s what we suggest you do next: try out our Smartplan to see what degrees and certification programs could be a good fit for you.

We’ve made it incredibly easy for you to use. Just tell us what you’re looking for (online classes, tuition discounts, books included) and we’ll find the colleges and universities that could meet your criteria.

Need a school that’s adult-friendly? We’ll return only those results. Want to know which schools offer certification programs? Which ones don’t require SAT or ACT scores? Which waives their application fees? We can find those schools for you.

Take a few minutes to register for free create your Smartplan right now and be on your way to a rewarding and exciting new career!

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About the Author
Grant founded with a purpose-driven mission: make college accessible and affordable for everyone. After graduating college with an overwhelming amount of debt, he was determined to change how students embark on their education. He's a frequent speaker and author in higher education, and has been featured in Forbes, Bloomberg Businessweek, Business Insider, American Express, AOL, MSN, Thrive Global, Reader's Digest, Inside Higher Ed, Evolllution, EducationDive, and nearly 100 radio shows and podcasts.