Members of Generation Z live in a world of possibility and uncertainty. They’re entering a workforce marked by rapid technological changes and a high likelihood of job hopping and career switching. Picking a college major can be tricky, especially with concerns about employment insecurity.
The best college majors for Generation Z lead to flexible career options and nurture powerful skills that can transfer between jobs. When picking a major, you can specialize within it and craft your own program of study, one that appeals to you personally while making you a competitive job candidate. Other factors, such as internships and research opportunities, will also affect the quality of your undergraduate program.
Presented in no particular order, the following 10 majors are top picks for Generation Z:
1. Computer Science
In a digital age, majoring in computer science can be a sensible choice. It’s the foundation for a variety of rewarding career paths.
A degree in computer science delves into the functioning of computing devices. You learn about software and data structures, and you work with algorithms and programming languages. You can specialize in various areas, such as digital security, machine learning, cloud computing, or game design. Certain kinds of math, such as calculus and linear algebra, are also a critical part of this degree.
When majoring in computer science, you get trained in powerful ways to think about problems and come up with effective solutions. From building secure applications to programming robotic arms, the topics range widely.
Another benefit of this degree is the flexibility it gives you. Some people who major in computer science go on to work in academia. Others land jobs in a range of industries, such as manufacturing, health care, entertainment, and big tech. They may work for a major corporation, such as Google or Intel, or get hired at a startup. Some start their own businesses or work as consultants. Data scientists, software developers, and researchers in artificial intelligence are among the professionals who benefit from a degree in computer science.
Even if computers don’t become the main focus of your career, the skills you develop while studying computer science can prove useful. For example, someone who works in marketing can use their knowledge of math, algorithms, and programming languages to launch marketing campaigns that are more successful.
Computer-centric areas with strong predicted job growth include software development and information security. In general, there’s a strong demand for people who know how to apply their skills to solve problems, think creatively, and manage projects.
Are you interested in how living creatures function? Do you wonder about the genetics of diseases or the way cells produce energy? Majoring in biology introduces you to the structures and processes of life.
A degree typically involves both classes and lab work, and you can find opportunities to conduct your own research as an undergraduate. The topics covered by this major include molecular biology, genetics, developmental biology, and evolution. Completing the major usually requires some additional coursework in chemistry, physics, and math.
Students often specialize within the major, focusing on particular areas they’re most interested in. After their introductory coursework, they may take classes or conduct research in neurobiology or biotechnology. Sometimes, their interests cause them to shift to a related major. For instance, they may switch to a biochemistry major, which overlaps in subject matter with biology but has a heavier focus on chemistry.
With a biology major, many people pursue a graduate degree. Sometimes, they become research scientists. Conducting research isn’t limited to academia. Pharmaceutical companies and government agencies are among the workplaces that need people who know how to manage research projects in the biological sciences.
Although a biology major isn’t required for a career in medicine, some people find it a useful foundation for medical school or for studying to become a physician assistant, which has an especially strong job outlook. Other people will use their undergraduate degree in biology as a launching point for work or further studies in environmental science, forensic science, botany, or veterinary medicine. If you love teaching, you can become a biology teacher for high school or middle school.
From cancer research to food science, many paths branch out of a biology major. The exposure you get to various topics can help you choose the career that’s best for you.
3. International Relations
Many problems across the globe require complex analyses and demand the joint efforts of multiple countries and organizations. Environmental degradation, poor access to health care, and various forms of exploitation, such as human trafficking, are among the most serious issues we face.
Generation Z is aware of living in an interconnected world, and many take an interest in global problems, making international relations a potentially fascinating degree. An undergraduate program in international relations covers a variety of areas, including political science, law, economics, sociology, and history. In many cases, students need to become proficient in at least one foreign language.
Ultimately, the goal of the degree is to deepen your understanding of global affairs. You develop a better grasp of how different cultures interact, and you study the relationships between governments, corporations, and other organizations. After taking introductory classes, you can focus your studies on a particular region of the world or a specific set of issues.
Depending on what you study within the framework of international relations, your degree can open up paths to working in government departments and agencies, corporations, or international nonprofits. Maybe you’ll become a lawyer, join a diplomatic corps, or get hired by a policy think tank or nongovernmental organization. Maybe you’ll prosper in international banking or become an analyst who attempts to predict the outcomes of global conflicts. It’s helpful to enrich your studies with classes that develop quantitative skills, such as the ability to gather data and run statistical analyses.
A major in international relations also strengthens your written and oral communication skills, which are vital for a wide range of jobs. People sometimes use their degree to land positions in public relations, journalism, or other fields that rely heavily on communication.
A bachelor’s degree in nursing prepares you for work as a registered nurse in hospitals, medical clinics, assisted living facilities, and other settings. It’s also a strong foundation for other careers in health care.
Along with classes in clinical care, a typical undergraduate program will offer some science courses, including microbiology and physiology. Courses in statistics, psychology, and nursing research are also standard for this degree.
Because of reported shortages in nurses, especially in hospitals, some employers are offering sign-on bonuses and other attractive perks. The degree increases your chances of finding stable work with benefits.
After gaining at least a few years of experience as a nurse, some people pursue graduate-level studies that help them land jobs in nursing administration, education, or clinical research. Another popular choice is to enroll in a graduate program that trains you to become a nurse practitioner, giving you greater autonomy in clinical practice. Nurse practitioners often work in primary care, though they also refine their training for other settings, such as psychiatric facilities and emergency rooms.
Other possibilities for careers include nursing informatics, which involves developing, analyzing, and testing certain technologies used for delivering health care. Nurses may also work for health insurance companies, and some start their own businesses. A degree in nursing is more versatile than many initially assume.
A finance major gives you an introduction to how companies and individuals make decisions about financial assets. You learn about investments, budgeting, financial structures, and long-term planning.
Typically, the coursework at an undergraduate level will cover topics in economics, business, and math, particularly statistics and calculus. The classes you take may include accounting, portfolio management, and banking. You’ll also learn how to use various tools for analyzing financial risk.
To advance in the corporate and banking world, many people who major in finance obtain a graduate degree, such as a Master of Business Administration. Other possibilities include earning a Certified Financial Planner certification. Depending on the coursework you take, you may also pass the exam for a Certified Public Accountant license; not everyone who becomes a CPA majors specifically in accounting.
Executives, bankers, accountants, auditors, financial advisors, and risk analysts are among the people who may start out as finance majors. The job outlook for financial managers is also strong. With this position, you help an organization determine and meet its financial goals.
If you want to steer clear of the corporate world, you can apply what you learn to positions in the public sector or nonprofit organizations. Working one-on-one with individuals on their personal financial goals is another possibility. This major equips you with tools and skills that are useful in multiple industries.
Whether they’re designing environmentally friendly buildings or creating communication systems, engineers work on a range of vital projects. A general engineering degree introduces you to a variety of topics. What are the principles that govern the construction of a strong bridge? In what ways can you design and produce computer chips that are more powerful?
Engineering coursework draws heavily on relevant topics in math, physics, and chemistry. You also learn how to use powerful computer programs, and you may even develop skills in programming.
Engineering teaches you effective ways to think about and solve problems within real-world constraints. Constraints include time and budget limits and the availability of certain materials. As part of your major, you work on projects that hone your ability to produce effective and efficient results.
Within the broad discipline of engineering, there are areas you may want to specialize in. These may have their own majors at your university. One example is civil engineering, which focuses on large-scale infrastructure projects, such as buildings, tunnels, and sewage systems. You may be interested in electrical engineering, which deals with the technology of electrical systems, or computer engineering, which overlaps with a computer science degree but focuses more on hardware. Other possibilities include aerospace engineering, which can launch you into a career working on aircraft, satellites, and space-going vessels.
The career paths in engineering are highly varied and can establish you in a range of industries. Even if you ultimately don’t work in engineering, employers value the abilities you develop with this major, such as quantitative skills, problem solving, and project management. You can also draw on what you learn to start your own business.
7. Information Science
We live in a world with a staggering amount of data. By 2025, the amount of data we create globally is predicted to reach roughly 180 zettabytes. To give you an idea of how much that is, one zettabyte is equal to a trillion gigabytes.
For people in Generation Z, some of the most useful skills involve data. Handling data means knowing how to store, organize, retrieve, safeguard, visualize, and interpret it. A major in information science introduces students to powerful methods for working with data. It also pushes them to think critically about problems concerning data creation and use.
One of the benefits of majoring in information science is its interdisciplinary nature. In some ways, the core classes overlap in content with computer science, but the emphasis rests more heavily on data-related topics.
Students can flexibly shape their studies to focus on particular areas. For example, some students may be interested in data science and will take more math and programming classes as part of fulfilling their major. Other students may want to investigate best practices in archiving, laws applying to data privacy and ownership, and the effects of data on behavior and emotion. A major in information science can easily combine with other programs of study and can draw on math, computers, psychology, culture, and ethics.
Some people with this degree will get hired by libraries, museums, government or university archives, and research groups that handle large amounts of data. Others may develop a career centered on data science, enabling them to land jobs in marketing or in software development. Additional possibilities include working as a computer systems analyst. If you enjoy writing, a degree in information science may help prepare you for work as a technical writer.
8. Business Administration
Generation Z has been referred to as an entrepreneurial generation, because many young people want to start businesses. Even if they don’t have specific plans to launch their own company, they value the ability to thrive in business and make their ideas profitable.
A major in business administration strengthens your understanding of how to run a business successfully and excel in management positions. You start developing your managerial skills, and you learn a variety of important functions, such as writing financial reports, creating marketing campaigns, and hiring the best job candidates. Among the topics covered in your coursework are economics, statistics, finance, and business regulations.
This major offers students opportunities to work on projects that reflect real-world situations, and it allows for specialization. For instance, you can choose courses that give you a deeper understanding of businesses in health care or manufacturing.
People with a degree in business administration may start their own businesses or land jobs in other companies. They may become sales representatives, project managers, company executives, or specialists in human resources.
This major also goes well with other degrees. For example, some people combine a major in business administration with a major or minor in computer science, visual art, psychology, or another discipline. Studying business administration can help you make your other skills, such as computing or creative writing, more profitable.
When history comes up as a suggestion for a major, some people scoff at it. They assume that you can’t do much with the degree. The reality is that a rigorous undergraduate program in history helps you build essential skills. Plus, it can be fascinating. You enjoy the opportunity to learn about complicated topics in greater depth.
A history major gives you a broader understanding of human affairs and different cultures. It strengthens your ability to analyze complex texts, synthesize content from different sources, and carry out research. You also learn how to write persuasively and use well-organized arguments based on strong evidence.
After college, some people use their history education in a straightforward way. They teach history, or they get hired for positions in libraries, museums, and other cultural institutions. They may work in publishing houses or for various journals or magazines. If they’ve focused their major on a particular area of the world, they may work in another country or for a government agency.
Other times, history majors take up careers in areas that don’t directly touch on history. They pursue work or additional studies in medicine, law, marketing, information technology, or finance. In these unrelated areas, they use the abilities they honed during their major. They can absorb a great deal of reading, think critically about texts, and rely on excellent research and communication skills.
You can combine the coursework required by your history major with classes in other areas, such as science and math. A blend of qualitative and quantitative skills is one strategy for broadening your career options after college.
We’re constantly exposed to media, especially through the hours we spend daily online. With a communications major, you become more skilled at using various media to achieve specific goals.
Typically, a communications major will take core classes that cover technology, cultural influences, and different kinds of messaging. From commercials to political speeches, you explore different formats of communication and effective strategies for each. You learn how to analyze evidence, critique arguments, and evaluate what you see and hear in the media. Through coursework and projects, you also apply the principles you’re learning and test new ideas.
People who major in communications get hired for various media jobs. For instance, you may work in news broadcasting, on movie sets, or as a social media manager for a corporation. Other possibilities include careers in advertising and in political consultancy. Because communications majors often learn public speaking, they can excel in careers that require persuasive speech, such as public relations, law, and salesmanship.
Because a communications major draws on multiple disciplines, you can pair it with other programs of undergraduate study. For instance, some students combine their communications major with coursework in data science and business. Many industries look for employees who can be consistently persuasive, craft compelling narratives, and work with different kinds of technology to convey powerful messages.