The National Association for Colleges and Employers recently released data providing a ranking of college majors by the number of graduates who had at least one job offer before they graduated in 2013. Computer science majors ranked highest on the list while education and visual and performing arts ranked at the bottom.
Out of 10,000 college seniors surveyed, NACE tallied up a ranking of 17 majors. All seniors were ready to complete a bachelor’s degree.
Computer science dominated the top of the list, with 68.7 percent of computer science majors seeing a job offer before graduation.
Economics ranked second on the list, with 61.5 percent, accounting 61.2 percent, engineering 59 percent, business administration 54.3 percent, sociology/social work 42.5 percent, mathematics/statistics 40.3 percent, psychology 39.2 percent, history/political science 38.9 percent, healthcare 37.8 percent, liberal arts/humanities 36.8 percent, biology 35.2 percent, communications/journalism 33.8 percent, English 33 percent, environmental science 30.5 percent, education 28.9 percent, and visual and performing arts bottom out the list at 27.8 percent.
“Fields that rely on computer science professionals are often ranked highly in terms of job prospects, salary, opportunities of creativity, and job satisfaction,” Oswego State computer science professor James Early said. “In addition to the ranking, we can point to labor statistics at the state and federal level showing that computer science opportunities are outstanding, and will continue to be so for years to come.”
Early also said that technology is a large part of today’s society and is present in entertainment, medicine and manufacturing and all of that software needs people to create it and current students are training for that.
“I am not surprised at all that computer science ranked so high, in fact I would have been surprised if it wasn’t first or second,” said senior computer science major Zachariah Schrecengost. “With the importance of computers and software becoming greater and greater, the need for programmers becomes greater and greater. Plus, a lot of older people in software-type jobs are retiring so there is additional need for people with computer science degrees.”
Oswego State computer science professor Christopher Harris said computer science student enrollments grew quickly in the 1990s but then decreased almost as rapidly. However, in the last five years, enrollments in computer science have once again been increasing, but the demand for students with the right skills still outstrips supply.
According to the Office of Institutional Research and Assessment, there were 71 declared computer science majors at Oswego State for the fall 2009 semester. For the fall 2013 semester, there were 114, up from 96 just one year before.
“Computer science is a relatively young discipline and is still expanding into new frontiers,” Harris said. “The department constantly examines what the market is seeking and adapts course offerings to meet those demands.”
While accounting ranks third on this list, business students usually rank high in other kinds of studies. Business ranked second as the highest starting salary job at $55,100 in 2013, according to NACE data.
“Through my years here I have learned that being an accounting major provides many opportunities to different types of jobs in business,” Oswego State senior Kris Van Deusen said. “You learn a little of every business major in the business school because it is required as general education. Also many of the accounting firms want freshly trained accountants because they are trained in the new technology and can help teach the other accountants.”
The School of Education at Oswego State has seen decreases in student enrollment over the last few years. The school as a whole had over 650 fewer students enrolled in the fall of 2013 than it did in the fall of 2009. There are 243 fewer students enrolled in childhood education and 307 less in adolescent education as of last fall than there were four years ago, according to the Office of Institutional Research and Assessment.
Barbara Garii, associate dean of the School of Education at Oswego State, said that teacher hiring is associated with local demographics and needs.
“This is cyclical and national economic trends indicate that within the next three to seven years there will be a great increase in teacher hiring across all areas as baby boomers continue to retire,” Garii said. “Currently in New York State, there is great need for mathematics, science and special education teachers all at the secondary level, technology teachers and teachers of English as a second or other language across all grades and trade and technical educators at the secondary level.”
Kate Cardone is a senior graphic arts major and views the low ranking of visual and performing arts students as subjective.
“There are many different variables you can take into consideration when you look at that statistic,” Cardone said. “Where is the population that you are referring to going to school? Where exactly do they live? I can tell you that visual arts jobs in this area are non-existent, but we are also very rural in an area that is not very artistically rich. I make a very big effort to be involved on campus while I am in school and have the resources I need. I have a double minor and have had three internships. I put in a lot of extra effort in order to make it into the 28 percent that do get offered a job.”
While arts score low ratings on the NACE list, research from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce along with the U.S. Census Bureau rank several art fields in the lowest spots of the top 25 college majors with the highest unemployment rates. Graphic design, studio art, fine arts, cosmetology and culinary arts all have lower unemployment rates than majors such as clinical psychology, architecture and linguistics, according to the report.
“I really think that you need to be diverse in order to be marketable in this economy,” Cardone said. “You should really become focused on fulfilling multiple niches in the art world, making you useful in a variety of companies, as well as being able to fill more than one position for a company.”