The top of our rankings present interested scholars with the best shots at success and satisfaction in the workplace, complete with generous incomes and an abundance of job opportunities. Check out the best college majors for a lucrative career. (Spoiler alert: STEM majors—that is, fields in science, technology, engineering and math—dominate our rankings.)
Most nationally accredited colleges are for-profit and meet lower academic standards than their regional counterparts. Students considering a nationally accredited online college should research the school's reputation and understand how academic standards differ from regionally accredited schools. It's important to note that most nationally accredited schools will accept transfer credits from regionally accredited colleges and universities, but the opposite is not always true.
To ensure the best possible outcomes for your education program, the online degree program you choose should be accredited by either one of the six primary regional accrediting boards, the Distance Education Accrediting Commission, or an accrediting board that specializes in education programs. Examples of these programmatic accrediting agencies include the Commission on English Language Program Accreditation (CEA), Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Elementary and Secondary Schools (MSA-CESS), and the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP).
One of three campuses in the world-class University of Illinois, the University of Illinois Springfield is widely acclaimed for their leadership in online learning. UIS offers over 45 degree, certification, and graduate certificate programs for nontraditional students, many of which rank among the best in the country. Students encounter an intellectually rich environment with top-notch faculty and online resources.
Once you know what degree level you want to pursue, think carefully about what majors will have the biggest impact on your current career or future job prospects. Different majors teach different skills and have different points of emphasis. Multiple studies have shown that what you study has a bigger impact on future earning potential than where you go to school.
The school also offers bridge programs that enable students to earn a bachelor's and master's in the same field on an accelerated timeline. Ottawa University's generous transfer policy allows students to apply up to 80 previously earned credits toward their undergraduate degrees. Instructors deliver all courses fully online, asynchronously, and in timeframes that span eight weeks.
The University of Florida is one of many online colleges that offers a comprehensive selection of online degrees at the bachelor's level, master's level, and doctoral level. Opportunities for undergraduates include bachelor's degrees in popular fields such as business administration, computer science, nursing, and psychology. Students also enjoy online options in specialized fields such as fire and emergency services, microbiology and cell science, and sport management. Graduate students can choose from a total of 77 online master's degrees, most of which focus on STEM fields and specializations, and nine online doctorate programs.
Liberal arts studies, in general, get a bad rap when it comes to career utility. Classics is one major that proves that old trope wrong. Sure, the study of ancient Greek and Roman culture might not seem exactly applicable in the modern job market, but the level of critical thinking and research skills required to do it is highly marketable in a wide range of industries. For example, former classics majors from Georgetown University have gone on to careers in publishing, government, museums, finance and education, to name just a few fields, according to the school’s career education center. Many also continue their schooling and pursue graduate degrees in a variety of subjects, including ancient history and classical archaeology, as well as law and medicine, for which they tend to have high admissions rates.
The cost of a formal education is very high, and many people spend years paying off student loans. After entering the workforce in their degree field, some individuals find themselves dissatisfied with their job, and they want to change careers. The one problem is that career changes can sometimes require additional courses or another degree all together, which also means additional cost. Giving careful consideration to the choice of a major may eliminate the need for drastic career changes early on in post-college life.
Regis University is a private, Jesuit University with its main campus located in Denver, Colorado. The online college offers a catalogue of courses to suit students hoping to advance their career path, earn a bigger paycheck, or to fulfill their passions. A long list of flexible programs allows students to pick and choose which suits their needs best as they juggle work, family, and school. The school boasts some impressive statistics, such as 89% placement rate after graduation, and 50% higher than Colorado State average. Regis University is a excellent option for those seeking a reliable online program.
Associate degrees and bachelor's degrees that feature an instructional technology option are more likely to be degrees in education or teaching with an instructional technology specialization option. Students will study teaching techniques, curriculum development, evaluation techniques, and classroom management, all while learning about how they can use technology to enhance their teaching skills. Some schools require that students who are applying for master's in instructional technology already have official teaching experience. Doctoral programs may even require curriculum development or teacher leadership experience.
City University of Seattle (also known as CityU) is a private, nonprofit university that offers accredited degrees from the undergraduate through doctoral level. With a commitment to serving working adults and transfer students, CityU is ranked by U.S. News & World Report among the top schools for online bachelor’s degree programs, and among the top online programs for veterans in the U.S.
You may be able to fulfill some elective, interdisciplinary and/or general education courses by going through the Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) process. To be eligible for PLA credits, you must be an undergraduate student who has already been accepted into University of Phoenix. In addition, you must have submitted any transcripts to the University, and you must have remaining general education or elective credits required to earn your degree.
In the broadest of engineering fields, these majors study machines, including what they’re made of and how they work, with courses such as circuit analysis, fluid mechanics, materials science and thermodynamics. Sound like a lot to cover? You’re not wrong. Indeed, mechanical engineering students often take five years (or four years including a couple of summers) to complete their degrees because they take on internships for hands-on work experience that complements the theoretical studies. The good news is these cooperative programs do include paid gigs, so you can offset some of those extra educational costs.
OSU Ecampus students have access to a wide range of student supports—vital resources like success counseling, library services, free online tutoring, and career guidance. And OSU Ecampus is currently ranked among the top five best online bachelor’s programs for veterans— advisors collaborate with veterans to maximize their military education benefits and find programs that work well for military service members.
Traditional degree programs in instructional technology revolve around group discussion, helping students build ideas off of one another. This is not easily done through online programs, so instructional technology students will be asked to complete a lot of reading and writing assignments. Many online programs (as well as some traditional programs) require that all students be full-time, licensed teachers.
In some cases, individual programs may also be accredited by an independent board. One example is the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, which evaluates academic programs in applied science, computing, engineering, and technology. These agencies assess the competence of both on-campus and online degree programs giving students the peace of mind that their school's department offers a reputable program.
A lot of problems first-year students face can be traced back to an illness that kept them away from classes for an extended period of time that led to a downward spiraling effect. Get enough sleep, take your vitamins, and eat right. If you haven't heard the jokes about college food, you soon will. And without mom or dad there to serve you a balanced meal, you may be tempted to go for those extra fries or cookies. Stay healthy and avoid the dreaded extra "Freshman 15" pounds by sticking to a balanced diet.